A few weeks ago, Bido Lito sent me along to one of the Make Your Own Noise workshops that are currently being held at FACT as part of their Build Your Own exhibition. The workshop focused around approaching music in alternative ways, using found objects and abstract instruments. One of the first exercises involved the group staying silent for a few minutes before slowing trying to mimic what we could hear around us. One person moved their chair accidentally causing a squeak and someone else imitated that sound causing a ripple effect of evolving noises throughout the group. We later built our own 'instruments' using wood blocks, screws, tin foil, springs, contact microphones and whatever else was at hand. We used these instruments to perform in a similar way to the earlier exercise, reacting to each other.
The workshops are being run by OWL Project, a collaborative group based in Manchester that explore sound art using a mixture of tactile materials and experimental electronics. They brought along some of the wonderful sound objects they make. These included a myriad of circuits, filters, coil microphones, light to sound convertors, and flashing LEDS. It was the use of light which raised my eyebrows the most. As part of one circuit, where a speaker once lived, the OWLs had replaced it with an LED. You can record your voice into this device and when you press play, the LED flashes. Not massively impressive. But once you hold this up to one of the light to sound convertors, which look like mini solar panels, you can hear a pretty accurately transmitted version of the recorded sound. SCIENCE! All I want to do now is build an array of these LEDs and sequence them transmitting to different sensors. Or instead of LEDs, using lamps for something larger and more visual! I might not get around to doing that, but it's certainly given me ideas about approaching sound in a new way. And I need to get some contact microphones!
I recorded a big handful of sounds from the day and Faded Gold, who is another Liverpool electronic artist, and myself are going to attempt making some music using this audio.
You can read the article in the latest copy of Bido Lito here.