Sep 092013


Traces in/of/with sound is an audio-visual performance series playing with the notion of opposites, for example the relationship between drawings and music, visual and sonic space, human expression and technology, fixed media and improvisation, combining live improvised and digitally processed voice with a film of line drawings and digital tracings. Each performance is different as it responds to spaces and audiences.

This current version,* instigated as part of a residency at SoundFjord, London, in autumn of 2012, draws parallels with early 20th century art, which responded to the dehumanizing effect of industrialization and urban expansion. However, where Expressionism, for example, sought to convey an artist’s subjective experiences, here an inter-active, if equally subjective, relationship is established between performer, audience, and material. Where Surrealists championed unexpected juxtapositions, here more established poles are questioned with the aim to open up experiential and imaginary spaces between sound and vision, hearing and seeing, drawing and voice, fixed media and improvisation, human expression and technology, cohesion and fragmentation.


The initial idea for Traces in/of/with sound lives somewhat in the land of visual music and my interest in the influence that the relationship between sound and image has on the music that is produced. In the liner notes to Folio and 4 Systems Earle Brown (2006) talks about the connection of still images made active and temporal through movement of the eye along them and earlier in the 20th century Paul Klee transferred this principle into much of his paintings. In this vein I have been looking towards motion as one connecting device, a principle also outlined by Niall Moody (2009), creating a sometimes convergent, sometimes divergent sonic and visual spatiality, which, however, are interdependent in perceptual experience.

The National Film Board of Canada documentary The animator as musician: documentary, part of Norman McLaren, The Master’s Edition (Barbeau, 2005), talks about the work of one of the early exponents of visual music, in which I found the above stills. They reminded me of some of my drawings, and I found the connection with music established by Norman McLaren intriguing. Like Browne, McLaren used graphic materials to explain musical forms.

Furthermore, in his book Lines: A Brief History, Tim Ingold (2007) draws attention to archetypal origins of such engagements with lines. This very much chimed with my interest in questioning notions of raw humanity if you will and prevailing uses and attitudes towards technology, down to how they are disseminated in accepted expressions and genres. The result is a unique immersive audio-visual piece that blends different spheres of interest. These diverge at times, overlap at others and sometimes resolve into unity.

Norman McLaren images and two of m earlier drawings

Technical Details:

The performance is 30min in length. The ideal technical format for a performance includes 2 projections and 4 channel of audio, although performing with one projection and a stereo system is also possible.


1.The full video, including audio (stereo) from a recent performance at Aural Detritus Festival, Brighton, UK:


2.Performance excerpt, filmed on mobile phones, from a recent performance at Aural Detritus Festival, Brighton, UK:



supported by:

* Documentation of these previous versions can be found at

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