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Category Archives: audio visual arts

Retrospective post

Modulate performed at Supersonic Festival in the afternoon and, although we were very pleased to be there, we were surprised to discover when we arrived that the large skylights in the ceiling above the stage had not been blacked out – not an  ideal  situation for an audio visual group –  and it was too late to do anything about it. So, we did our set with bleached out visuals, &  feeling rather exposed by the light, as we like to not be seen and for audiences to focus on the sound and image, not on us.

However, the PA was magnificent, full use of the bass frequencies was made, & Bobby & the two Marks kept on having to rescue their laptops as they vibrated off the tables!

Perhaps Supersonic will have us back one day to play in the dark – that would be nice.


Modulate were invited to spend a week at SONM in Murcia, Spain – a new Centre for  Sound Art and Experimental Music curated by Francisco Lopez. Here we gave a presentation, performed a concert, and showcased a new  installation , the “Modulate Octophonic Loop System” ,  an 8.1 sound installation developed by Bobby Bird exploring new ways to present Modulate’s unique sound, which remained exhibited at SONM after we left.

Stereo excerpt from The Modulate Octophonic Loop System

More images from SONM 

Excerpt from our live AV concert 

New work was developed by Modulate with support from Arts Council England

see more images here: Modulate in the Woods
Hear excerpts from our live set on Modulate Soundcloud
For this years Shambala Festival, Modulate created a series of unique sound and visual experiences in the woods , partially inspired our setting, being situated in the center of the beautiful Wilderness area. Here we designed a magical light tree to sit beneath, an expanded UV Totem space, a three screen  projection installation, plus we brought our quality sound system, emanating a warm and resonating space amongst the trees. Through this we played our own selection of experimental electronic sounds and AV for three nights, plus, on the Saturday we premiered an entirely new Modulate audio visual live set at around 3 in the morning-
All in all, another creative and fun time was had by us all- thanks Shambala, Des, and to all of the extended Modulate team .

In March we gave a 45 minute Live Cinema performance at Flatpack Festival , an  improvised, slowly unfolding abstract sonic visual journey, which was very well received by the audience.

recording of our  performance below :

Prior to our performance we also curated a selection of screenings,  including an exclusive preview of EXP /Frank Bretschneider plus some clips of  a beautiful  video installation ‘Forever’ by Universal Everything

Modulate gave a live AV performance at Noisefloor Festival,  held at  Staffordshire University, Stafford. See clip here: vimeo.com/modulate

Conceived to help bring the fields of Electroacoustic music and IDM/Electronica closer together,the festival featured daytime multi-channel Electroacoustic fixed media compositions, played through a 14 loudspeaker diffusion array, plus live concerts in the evenings, at which modulate played alongside Soundhacker, Autistici , Michael Santos and  Simon Scott

Modulate member Mark Harris also gave a solo performance.

Modulate audio except ATM : cov1

In September 09 Modulate performed at A Thing About Machines festival in Coventry, in the historic setting of St John’s Church on Spoon Street. The three Modulate music makers ( Bobby, Mark and Mark) performed from the front of the church while Joseph and I  had the pleasure of projecting our visuals onto the architecture from the back of the church.

It was a great to have the opportunity to  perform in such a special setting, and a pleasure to be a part of this unique festival, now in its second year.

What a shame that the Arts Council did not support ATM this year, despite the success of last years festival and the great line up this year – but well  done to Cormac for continuing regardless. Lets hope they  give more support where its due in  future .

We also enjoyed the other performances in the church, which were given by Janek Schaefer , Ben Ramsay and Threep

Modulate Sonic Circle at Shambala 09

sonic circle

More images on flickr

For the woodland area at Shambala Festival 2009, Modulate continued to expandand and develop upon previous years multiple speaker sound installations, creating a larger version of the Sonic Circle , using a custom 10.2 rig flown in the trees comprising of 10 xNexo PS 8s,  plus a larger stereo system based on the ground,  with a smaller 10.2 monitoring system inside our Yurt control center.

With the 10.2 system, the stereo signal can be filtered & panned around the 10 speakers in different directions or in a random panning mode, the stereo system on the ground can receive the full frequency spectrum or be used as the sub for the 10 surround speakers, also effects can be added & these can be filtered & panned independently to the stereo signal. the idea is to create a moving stereo sound stage in which the system can be constantly tweaked or tuned to work with different tracks or soundscapes …. but you would really need to hear it to get the full idea!

This year, instead of the circle being visually defined by small led’s
inside the speakers, we had 40 x 1000 liter IBC containers with DMX controlled luminares inside.   Recycled IBC containers have been used by other artists to create various lighting installations, one of the better known being Modularbeat‘s Kubik installation / portable outdoor club, which has appeared in major urban spaces across Europe. However after we were asked by  Shambala  if we could incorporate the use of similar containers into the Modulate space, we thought it would be fun to try a new take on the idea, translated from an urban space into a woodland glade.

Having previously designed a number of light and sound installations using Max/MSP, multi-speaker sound systems & DMX controlled lighting within fiberglass orbs & light sticks, programmer and sound designer Bobby Bird found it a relatively smooth process to translate similar software design to the cubes, while David Checkley,  technical support,  sourced materials and pulled together a great team of able & willing assistants to build the installation on site.

Aside from the Sonic Circle and the cubes, we projected live quartz
animations onto a circular screen, laser projections onto the tree canopy, UV canvases on trees, a chilled fog machine, plus electronic sounds flying in all directions, selected all over the three nights by Mark Bunegar & Bobby Bird (Modulate).

As well as original material, some of the artists / labels played included Raster Notion: Alva Noto, Senking, Pixel, Nibo, Ryoji Ikeda, Kangding Ray, Komet, Stephan Mathieu, BJ Nilsen, Fluxion, Robert Henke / Monolake, Gerhard Behles, Frank Bretschneider + Steinbruchel, Robert Hampson, Klovn, Atom TM, Deep Chord, Hem, Autechre, Shuttle 358, Tetsu Inoue, Helena Gough, Fennesz, Rhythm and Sound, Trente Moller, Pole, Vladislav Delay, Coh, Main, Weiland Samolak, Loscil, EU, Smyglyssna, Signal, Biosphere, Sutekh, Gramm, Masters of Psychedelic Ambience, EU, Bretschneider + Dupree , Atom TMBurnt Friedman.

The Modulate team this year :

Bobby Bird: sounds +  sound design, Max/MSP programming and concept for the Sonic
Circle,  programing for the light cubes.
Dave Checkley : production manager
+ his team of helpers,  Cloe, Ant, and Bob
Liam: all round help & sound tech install
Mark Bunegar : sound selection and graphics
Sean Clark Cuttlefish : laser projections
Joseph Potts: UV canvas
Scylla : live quartz projections
Mark Harris: quartz composer programing
Dowd: professional tree climber , & Denise
Martin Vernan & Kika: mission transportation

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More images on flickr

squares4

Modulate’s performance at the CoCArt Music Festival, at the Center of Contemporary Arts in Torun, Poland, was a big success. The  five members of Modulate performed a new  AV set,  created for CoCart,  to an audience of over 400 people.

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squares-modulate

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Two Youtube clips :

One Here

One Here

Review

“Last weekend, during the final of II CoCArt Music Festvial, the audience took a musical journey with Modulate – a British multimedia collective. The people, gathered in the CoCA’s underground car park were taken aboard a futuristic space frigate, speeding through the void of outer space. The accompaniment to this fascinating voyage was kept minimal, while also being rich in textures and musical figures. The whole spectacle was replenished with abstract and geometrical visualizations, digital  / laptop electronics appeared here as a fully developed rhythmical form … a space cruise of the highest degree”.
Excerpts from a review by Dariusz Brzostek ( translated from Polish)

Venue

cocart_venue

Other perfromances we particularly enjoyed included those by Vitor Joaquim + Hugo Olim:

joac

Sunao Inami:

sunao

And of course, Hatti, co curators of the festival:

hatti

Photos courtesy of Vitor Joaquim , Wojtek Szabelski /  freepress.pl, and Rednail

With thanks to: CoCart and Hatti for inviting us

Arts Council England for additional travel funding

…  and the lovely Polish audience

damian_stonehenge

 Birmingham and U.K creative culture as experienced by Modulate’s resident artist Damian Frey from New Zealand. Three videos below.

In 2007 Modulate successfully applied to host a three month International Artist Fellowship , a unique Arts Council programme established to award time and space fellowships to enable artists to explore ideas outside of the constraints of a production schedule, and to engage with their peers in different cultural settings, 

From a wide range of applicants, from 24 countries, New ZealanderDamian Frey was the person who resonated most with Modulate’s callout for a ‘Sonic Beatnik’, and the person whom we felt would gain the most opportunity from being selected. 

In May 2008 Damian re visited us in Birmingham and we took the opportunity to talk to him about his experience of being here, and how the residency had impacted on his creative path since then. We also collaborated on a piece of work, something we hadn’t done much during his residency.

Since the Modulate residency brought him to the northern hemisphere, Damian has remained in Europe, finding his skills – which include code programming and software development, musical composition, interactive sound and light installations – much in demand. As well as developing his individual work, he has successfully collaborated with high level media artists and organisations including Ars Electronica – OfLab (Austria), Chris Sugrue (US), Medialab Prado (Madrid), New Interfaces For Performance (Bristol),  the Netherlands Media Art Institute (Amsterdam), Yolande Harris Dorkbot Valencia (SP) Steim Foundation (NL) RjDj and Andre Goncalves (PT).

One of the best outcome of the I.A.F residency has, for us,  been in making a strong connection with Damian, so that we  now consider him an international ‘floating ‘ member  of  our extended Modulate collective.

Below : short video related to Damians residency and revisit

Below : two conversations with Modulate. Taking part: Damian Frey, Bobby Bird, Mark Bunegar, Mark Harris, Scylla Magda, Joseph Potts, Sean Clark. Mediated by artist Geoff Broadway, One : more about the residency

Two : “Isolation” geographical and artistic: Damian in New Zealand / Modulate in Birmingham.

Excerpt: ” Maybe being isolated from the rest of the artistic crowd says a lot more about the rest of the artistic crowd than it says about Modulate. Maybe there’s a good reason to be isolated – to isolate yourself from the rest of the art world. -maybe the rest of the arts world is disappearing up its own rear end, for want of a better term, in lots of important ways ” Damian Frey (NZ)

 

 

 

 

 



In music,  the digital revolution happened well over a decade before the much vaunted ‘digital film revolution’, with bedroom studio musicians everywhere finally getting their hands on affordable digital technology to create experimental music. Any  clubber who was around in the 90’s in Birmingham will be well aware of this, as the city was home to some of the most respected clubs in the country, including Oscillate, hosted by  Higher Intelligence Agency, which brought acts includung Orbital, Autechre, Plaidµ-ziq, Biophere, Locust, UltramarineSpacetine Continuum, Chantal PassamoteSun Electric  to perform here, and House of God  whose resident  DJ / Musicians included  Surgeon and Sir Real

Now Birmingham City Council brings us “Hello Digital”, billed as the Midlands first digital festival, which proposes to introduce the citizens of Birmingham to the wonders of everything digital, and invites them to discover the future, at millennium point next w/e.

Modulates name won’t precisely be up in lights here (well, they could be…) but some of our members  have been working away in the background on one of the interactive installations, “Field of LIght “, a project dreamed up by the PLUS team, who also devised ‘Illuminate‘, another installation which we were involved in.

Modulate’s Bobby Bird has been programmer and technical consultant for the piece, devising a way to control the lights & transfer data gathered via a website into the real-world installation, Modulate member Mark Harris has created a generative sound piece to accompany it, which will gently evolve over the 4 days of the exhibit,  while our trusty ‘ in house’  electrician, Dave Checkly, has been busy wiring everything up in such a way as to ensure the general public won’t be electrocuted.