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We're half way there - Thank you!
Sorry for the slight hiatus. After our initial inundation of updates we took some time to assess where we were and started to build a full sized panel prototype. This resulted in us encountering a whole host of snags and hiccups. We’ve also all become keenly aware of the impending doom of our various premiers for Academy projects due after Christmas and so have been spending a little more time writing real music! Nevertheless, we’ve made some real progress: After realising our method for panel construction was unimaginably laborious and time consuming we’ve streamlined several systems and have begun designing the circuitry for the LED’s.
Thank you so much for all the support up to this point. We’ve been amazed both by how much you’ve all helped us raise and the amount of feedback and support we’ve got from people across the world. We’re nearly half way to our minimum funding goal and have raised a considerable amount of money however we’ve still got a fair way to go. If you’ve already given then thank you, please consider sharing this project with friends. Equally, as musicians and students we’re well aware sometimes it’s impossible to help financially, simply sharing and talking about the project will help us out hugely too. We believe that this installation could become something beautifully striking and instigate an important conversation around community and the sound of 21st century life. If you want to experience it consider donating and check out our various rewards! Thank you again for all your help.
The Project Well Underway.
Slight gap in updates but lots of news to catch everyone up on. First and foremost, Jared, Jon and I spent some time over the weekend hitting our heads against the wall in an attempt to put our collective decade of university pretension aside and present a description of the installation, frills and thrills aside. We managed after an embarrassing amount of work to come up with this, hopefully it’ll clarify what we’re working towards for those of you a little confused:
Every day we find ourselves surrounded by people who lead very similar lives, yet we fail to notice one another. In Other Side of the Wall, interactive panels constructed of string and discarded homeware textiles line the walls of the space, while speakers whisper sounds from our everyday lives. Using a custom app, participants walk around the room with phones in hand, just as they might do while walking down the street. However, in Other Side of the Wall, phones alter the installation’s environment and give visitors the power to change their surroundings. Participants explore the string panels – with their phones and hands – transfiguring the room into an extraordinary space where the everyday is miraculous.
To be (perhaps overly) clear, we’re designing and building panels that’ll cover the walls of a room. You’ll enter the room and be able to explore it at your leisure, with your hands or your phones. The sounds you here will be made up of a tapestry of everyday sounds that subpatch will compose together and as you touch the walls and move your phone around you’ll change the sounds you hear. If you have any questions go ahead and comment on this post and we can clear things up! (It’ll also be wonderful to know if anyone out there is reading any of this… although I feel sure they’re not.)
This brings me roundabout to the second bit of news: our submission website! Please follow this link: http://othersideofthewall.co.uk/ . Answer the 1 question on it, enjoy some music and marvel in Jared’s beautiful colour changing lines (scroll down a bit). Your suggestions will, in a very appreciable way, alter the sounds in the room and will hopefully be a bit of fun so get involved.
Finally, we met with Carol Paris, a brilliant artist based in East Sussex, at the very beginning of the week. Alongside helping us question a multitude of assumptions we’d been making for too long and opening my eyes to a host of artists I should really be more familiar with, she also expanded our use of phones in the space. The meeting was exceptionally helpful and pulled us out of the echo chamber we’d found ourselves in. Thank you very much for your help!
So What actually is the project?
Every day we find ourselves surrounded by people who lead very similar lives, yet we fail to notice one another.
In Other Side of the Wall, interactive panels constructed of string and discarded homeware textiles line the walls of a room, while speakers recreate the sounds from our everyday lives in hushed tones. Using a custom app, participants walk around the room with phones in hand, just as they might do while walking down the street. However, in Other Side of the Wall, phones alter the installation’s environment and give visitors the power to change their surroundings. Participants explore the string panels – with their phones and hands – transfiguring the room into an extraordinary space where the everyday is miraculous.
Where are we now?
There is now a passable amount of information on Subpatch’s social media and the Soundcrowd site about the formation of the collective and what we’re interested in. I therefore wanted to use this post to draw your attention to where new information might be posted as well as explaining in more detail how this crowd funding campaign will (hopefully) work.
The plan is to post updates on social media several times a week, however officially that’s my job and I’m famously unreliable at maintaining an online presence. To be kept up to date on announcements, pictures of prototypes, videos of us almost inevitably making fools of ourselves with power tools and then feasibly redeeming ourselves by making sensors make some pretty sounds then please like and follow our Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/subpatch.collective), Twitter and Instagram as we can keep these sites much more current than the Soundcrowd one. To find us, just search for Subpatch on your social media of choice. Equally, our Soundcrowd site (https://soundcrowd.hubbub.net/p/otherside/) has all of our fundraising information and is where you can go to donate money for us to build the installation.
We need £3000 to build the installation. Visit the Soundcrowd site for a detailed budget but here’s a more general overview on where that money will go: We need to buy wood for the frames and backboards (these will form the panels that’ll be placed around the entire room, replacing the walls), string of many different colours and types, a vast array of sensors (so that, with some programming on our part, the room will know where you are and the string will know if you’re touching it), lots and lots of tiny speakers, lights, and then computers to control everything.
The next obvious question is; what do you get in return for donating? First and foremost, the chance to see the installation being built and, crucially, to be able to explore and enjoy it once it is. We can’t find anything like this in London or further afield and without the funding it will, quite simply, never happen. Additionally, our Soundcrowd page details rewards you can claim if you’ve donated above certain thresholds. Visit the website (https://soundcrowd.hubbub.net/p/otherside/) for more details, but as a flavour, a £25 donation will buy 1 ticket to the opening night of the installation while £100 will buy 2 tickets for an exclusive concert and drinks reception at Millfield place. This will feature a piece of classical repertoire performed by The Brompton Quartet, winners of the prestigious St Martin’s in the Fields Chamber Competition, and performances of pieces by Jared and Jon. There are a load more rewards at different price points so go and take a look for yourselves. We entirely appreciate some people will not be able to donate but if you think the project an interesting one there’s still a lot you can do. Please share our social media posts and talk about the project to any colleagues, friends or family members who you think might be interested. This is as much help as donating. Finally, keep an eye out for the installation once it’s built and come and visit it in the summer.
Please leave us a comment or write us a message if you’ve got any questions or suggestions - we will make sure we reply to everyone! Thank you in advance for your help!
A Road Trip in America
Sorry this is a day late, we've all had separate premieres (Jared's was actually with the Brompton Quartet, this will become more exciting after more details of the project are published) this Thursday which has thrown the end of the week into disarray somewhat. Regardless I've got my Saturday off and am here and ready to catch up.
In July of this year Subpatch were invited to present Well-Played Game at the VU!3 Symposium in Park City, Utah. We were unsure about going as all had very busy summers already, however, we decided it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Nevertheless, we had extremely limited funds, so the trip relied on us finding unreasonably cheap flights. These, as any transatlantic traveller will concur, are exceedingly rare and, as it turns out, entirely non-existent between London airports and Salt Lake City (Park Cities closet neighbour). Therefore, after some 'creative' travel plans had been proposed and subsequently muted by our resident cynic and travel-wary Jon, we decided to take a 2-day road trip from Denver to Park City. As might hopefully be apparent, the reason I'm telling you all this is that was, for me, the time when Other Side Of The Wall really formed into the project it is today.
Initially we were hoping to work with a textile artist to build the installation. The plan was for her to weave electronic sensors, lights and speakers into a huge fabric that could then be hung up and interacted with. While this idea still fascinates all of us, ours and the artists schedules never sufficiently aligned and so we had to reconsider. The initial textile brief excited us all for a couple of reason: its scale, its tactile nature and its human, crafty aspect. To elucidate on the last point, the vast majority of installations we had visited as individuals were chic and smooth with glass or metal surfaces everywhere. This might have simply been the result of our undeniably limited experiences but we all agreed we wanted to build something less ultramodern and, hopefully, more human. (Writing it now I can see a million holes in this train of thought however at the time, high on American fast food and late nights coding a reworked Well-Played Game for the conference, and it all seemed perfectly legitimate.) It was this general logic that resulted in our ubiquitous use of string throughout Other Side Of The Wall, as a means to recreate an illusion of a tapestry. The hope is that it will be interactive, that some might glow slightly in the low light, change colour and be able to be plucked and touched to interact with the sounds around you. Further, it provides a neat (perhaps uncomfortably so) metaphor for the community aspect of the installation.
During the hours and hours of driving we spent a lot of time talking about community. Jared suggested people could submit stories or brief anecdotes that we curate and then compose to. These would be curated and act as the schematic for the composed material for the soundworld in the space. We also discussed the practicalities of visiting schools with a self-designed app which could then prompt children to submitting material for us to work with. These ideas morphed into the use of found sounds from mundane everyday activities for the soundscape of the work which brings me neatly (and somewhat by coincidence) to our new website (coming soon). When it's ready we'll post it on all social media and our SoundCrowd page. It will be a space where you can submit ideas of sounds you'd like to hear composed into the space. We want sounds that occur during trivial activities and might often go unnoticed. We're especially interested in activities which might offer a little solace after a hard day. Walking the dog or taking the tube have been thoughts we've often discussed as a group (we also keep returning to washing the dishes for reasons I cannot fathom). Genuinely however, anything goes, turning on the TV, having a shower, driving your car. Please submit anything and everything and be as specific or vague as you'd like. Keep your eyes out for the new website!
A vague introduction
Good morning, this is the first of what will hopefully be several short blogs that will follow our new project; other side of the wall.
First, an introduction to Subpatch is probably necessary: We’re a composition collective based in London comprising of Jared Bennett, Jon Mayse and myself (Lazar Liebenberg). We met in the cafeteria at the Royal Academy of Music while studying for our Masters in composition. Jon crashed a meeting Jared and I were having regarding a call for scores from AMOK, a York based concert initiative. To the best of my recollection (which is generally quite poor), they asked for pieces that used technology in music to explore the human condition, inspiration and—I think—games. This brief was what eventually manifested into A Well-Played Game that has since gone on to be performed at VU, a symposium in Park City, Utah. That, however, is a story for another time. On the long drive back from York, after A Well-Played Game’s premier, we began discussing general aesthetic and technological interests and realised all three of us had a lot in common. We were all intrigued by how technology could augment and interfere with interactive New Music, how the line between performer and audience could be blurred and that interesting nether region between concert music and art instillations. These ideas featured a lot of New Music buzz words and couldn’t escape the type of pretension that permeates composition student’s bar-chat however, beneath the rhetoric, was a genuine intrigue in a world of music none of us had ever been properly immersed in. And so, as ridiculously official as it sounds, Subpatch was founded. In the coming weeks I’ll discuss A Well-Played Game and the York trip in more detail, as well as exploring other large scale works Subpatch has composed but in the interests of brevity (and to facilitate me making it to my first class) I’ll finish this blog with a short description of our current project and then sign off.
This academic year Subpatch intends to build a room sized installation tentatively called other side of the wall that’ll be premiered in the summer of 2020. The space will be encased in floor to ceiling panels that will be covered in dense string, LEDs (little lights), tiny speakers and various sensors. Sonically the room will be inhabited by a composed soundscape, drawing from found sounds in our everyday lives. We want to focus on mundane tasks the majority of us regularly overlook, even things that might be seen as tedious, and try to re-contextualise them as instigators in a vast, multifaceted, flexible community. Often it is these tasks that offer some slight solace at the end of a hard day—walking the dog, washing the dishes, turning on the TV—and their universality is accepted but regularly ignored. These things silently link us and this installation, in some small way, was an attempt by us to highlight that. Finally, before entering the space your phone will be temporarily disabled (we promise you’ll be able to get back in). Despite being locked out, your phone will still function as a tool with which you will be able to manipulate and alter the soundscape around you. This will take one of the most ubiquitous technologies available and reorienting your interaction with it. Transforming it from a device engineered to remove you from the world around you into something that directly manipulates it.
There are many more ideas and designs already being prototyped or in the pipeline so if you found any of this at all interesting please follow us, search for Subpatch on facebook, instagram or twitter or visit our soundcrowd page https://soundcrowd.hubbub.net/p/otherside/. I’ll be posting blogs on Mondays and Fridays that will be more detailed than the videos we can release. We’re really excited about this project and hope that you will enjoy following us as we design and build it. Until Friday.