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A Portrait of the Moving Body

Tim Murray-Browne and Jan Lee - A hieroglyph from the audiovisual interactive dance performance This Floating World created through Jan Lee dancing while being tracked by a 3D camera and our interactive software. The image is an inspiration behind the participatory digital interactive installation Movement Alphabet.

A hieroglyph created from Jan’s movements using the software we developed for This Floating World.

Back in 2014 when I was creating This Floating World with dance artist Jan Lee, we created a central chapter where we used a 3D camera to let the dancer paint the wall behind with her body. As we played, we found various dance motifs created marks reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy. This turned into the Hieroglyphs chapter of the piece. It also left an interest in the physicality of writing: how the movements of the body are captured in the marks of a painter or the personality of someone’s handwriting.

With Movement Alphabet, we’re bringing these ideas into an interactive installation. The way we move our bodies, even as non-dancers, expresses a huge amount of our personality. Our characteristic movements are a tapestry of our past, blending conscious and unconscious influences with the unique mechanics of each individual’s body.

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A Frozen Fragment of Music Scattered Through Space

I’m excited to share a new interactive project, showing in London next week.

Anamorphic Composition No. 1 is a musical composition arranged through space rather than time. Originally commissioned by San Diego Art Institute for an exhibition about synaesthesia, this is the first of a series of works inspired by anamorphosis – 3D sculptures where an unexpected image emerges when you look from a certain angle.

In this piece, I’ve divided a moment of music into fragments of sound and arranged them as shards cutting through physical space. You can hear them as you move your head through the space, which is tracked by a 3D camera. Where the shards meet, sweet spots emerge where you can begin to hear some of the harmony of that original musical moment.

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Two tracks from 2010: The Piano Tuner, Sleepy Holborn

A couple of compositions I wrote in 2010 that began with environmental field recordings.

The Piano Tuner is based on a four hour recording of our piano being tuned by the piano tuner Ojo. I was living in a house in St Mary’s Gardens near Kennington in South London at the time. After many hours of efforts on the day we moved in, we realised the piano was too big to ever go further than the hallway behind the front door. It remained there for the year we lived in the house. To play, you sat in the living room doorframe. Every time anyone came in or out of the house they had to squeeze their legs through the 12cm or so gap that remained.

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Where things start from: Experimenting with sound from sustained movement

Here is a sample of what things look and sound like in their earliest incantation. It’s an initial prototype experimenting with using sustained movement to control sound. Part of an ongoing research into sound, movement, space and interaction in collaboration with Jan Lee.

Suits and Kids on The Cave of Sounds in Canada

The streets of Toronto en route to install The Cave of Sounds in Waterloo

In September, The Cave of Sounds was invited to Waterloo, Canada to exhibit as a part of the Waterloo Innovation Summit.

Car and building on the road to Waterloo to exhibit The Cave of Sounds

View from the car on the road to Waterloo

Inside the car on the road to Waterloo

Our venue was THEMUSEUM, a children’s museum in downtown Kitchener. Up on the third floor, passing through replica of dinosaurs, amber fossils and lizard brains, our space managed to evoke a cave before we arrived, with odd cracks of sunlight poking through blackout curtains and an awkwardly placed metal girder dominating the room. We gained access at 7am on the day of our big 4.30pm opening. With a solid tech runthrough in our hotel room the previous day and an excellent tech team from the venue, we completed our install in seven hours, down from two days at the last show.

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Drift Residency in Rio de Janeiro

This July I conducted an eight day residency in Brazil with the digital theatre group ZU-UK – part of a new research project with Jan Lee called Waiting for a Grain of Sand to Leap into the Air.

Drift residency researching digital performance and interactive sound: Blue skies in Vera Cruz

Drift residency researching digital performance and interactive sound: Light and shadow in the mountains of Vera Cruz

Our work began in the mountains of Vera Cruz outside Rio de Janeiro, living and working in a remote residence detached from phones and internet. July is Winter in Brazil which gives warm sunny days, cold nights and dewy mornings. The landscape is dense and green, sat above a network of porous rock that emerges from the soil in places. And teeming with life – spiders, insects, woodpeckers, tics, cows…

Drift residency researching digital performance and interactive sound: Orange fungus growing on a wooden trough.

We were on the Drift residency along with six other artists. Our time was divided between collective creative activities and our own research; Capoeira, Yoga, Qi Gong, drawing, writing with others then creating work each day to share in the evening. Individual work was often still focused around a constraint or structure, like working with a specific piece of tech, or developing something that realises another of the artist’s project. Each evening, everyone shares what they have made, followed by a delicately thought out session of giving each other feedback.

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