This Is Not Art: Australia, 2011

this fall, i was privileged with the opportunity to participate in two arts festivals in newcastle, australia. these festivals were "electrofringe," whose focus was on the practice of electronic arts, and "critical animals," whose focus was the critical theory underlying creative endeavors. both of these festivals are components to a larger meta-festival called "this is not art." i was invited to engage in a variety of artistic and pedagogical events, some of which were newly realized just for the festivals (viz. songbirds).

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DIY Mbira

The Universal Language Orchestra is continuing into this fall with a new grant from UCIRA! As part of our proposal, we have been coming up with musical ideas and instruments to stimulate our young (8 - 12 year old) students' imaginations. This summer, my role has evolved into research and development of these instruments, with the intention of breaking down the expectations and implicit hierarchy concomitant with traditional instruments.

To this end, Adam Tinkle and I have come out with designs for a very inexpensive mbira, or "thumb piano", which can be easily amplified and otherwise extended to include all sorts of other sound-making possibilities. While the prototype demonstrates something very similar to a traditional (albeit non-Western) instrument, we see this as a platform on which to extend into further sonic zaniness and fun.

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OZ

I recently had the privilege and good fortune to travel to Australia again! This time, I got to play some music and even do some teaching, thanks to Estee and the other kind folks at Electrofringe and UNSW. In the process, I really enjoyed making field recordings of trains & birds (thanks, Sam!), taking pictures of some beautiful street art, and hanging out with friends both old and new. I was again reminded of how incredible the coffee is down there. That alone would be reason to go back! I also got to visit Melbourne this time, which is a truly lovely city, with some lovely people in it.

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the universal language orchestra

in a project spearheaded by charles curtis, several ucsd grad students, including me, have embarked on an outreach project at the spring valley community center. we are working with children ages 8 - 12 years old, building instruments, making sounds and listening. the project will eventually culminate in a performance of some kind, which the entire group will plan and execute, with my fellow students and i acting as facilitators.

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kids' music workshops at unsound festival!

from last sunday, february 7th, to tuesday, february 9th, a small but amazing group of kids, aged 6-12, built electro-mechanical instruments and talked about sound / music in ways even some educated adults might have problems comprehending. we didn't talk about scales, notes, or staves. we explored the sounds you hear every day, like dishwashers, telephones, and traffic. we discussed the multiplicity of sounds-- how each and every sound is different and how some are similar to others. we thought about where sounds come from and why they sound the way they do. most of all, we listened and played.

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