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Practice & Research

January 5th, 2024

Cybernetic Feedback Loops 

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This small project will seek to explore creating music that 'constructs itself' and has a sense of 'liveness' and autonomy, revealing the spectral nature of electronics.

Exploring 'liveness' in the space of electronic music and specially electronic equipment via circuitry will draw into practice concepts of cybernetics, feedback loops, self regulating properties and autopoiesis. 

In such early stages and born in an attempt to take aspects of my theoretical research out of words and into sonic form, I'm not sure how this project will be concluded, or if it even needs a completion. 

 

 

As a composer, I've always been inspired and felt most comfortable amongt nature. Being located in a valley in South Wales means I have no shortage of these types of locations. Although more biological and organismic, environmental ecologies function in the same way as cybernetic loops and systems - so perhaps a conclusion to this project could be taking these highly electronic, ghostly sonics into these habitats and environmental ecologies as not just a performance, but a triptych of conversion between the human, the technological and the environmental. 

January 8th, 2024

Music For Future Ecologies 

Music For A Future Ecology Track 1
00:00 / 02:20
AI Ghost
00:00 / 02:07

Created using Artificial Intelligence generative music software /// themes & music further embellished with additional composition, post production and synthesizers

January 10th, 2024

Cybernetic Feedback Loops 

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Continuing on with the the process of creating feedback loops that self oscillate and 'recreate' themselves, I decided to feed the cybernetic loop with more data (longer sequences) that create a slightly more 'musical' result and more diversity in its self generation. Moving the sporadic and out of time sequence into to the box of Logic and 'colouring' in the phrasing with additional instrumentation was an interesting challenged as I had to rid my approach of any grid-based rhythmic tempo and work to the unregulated tempo of the feedback loop leaving me at mercy of the machine.

January 12th, 2024

'Symphony For A Lost Utopia'

At it's core, the spinal structure of Symphony of a Lost Utopia belongs in it's tempo, or rather  - it's freeness from time. 

Composed without a trace of tempo or definitive pulse, each compositional element be it the vocals or the synthesisers was composed and recorded in conversation and responding to what was had come before, the previous track or element that had just been laid down in the piece.

The desire to create something like Symphony For A Lost Utopia came whilst watching the closing sequence of Denis Villeneuve's Arrival (2016). In particular, the use of music contrasted with the emotional gut punches of the montage edit that highlights the true intended purpose of the Heptapods, as organisms with the ability to unlock times fixed linear temporality. 

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What this closing sequence of the film offers through the edit, narrative, music composition and colour grade is movement. 

As an audience, you are quite literally guided through time, through a synthesis of the legato strings of On The Nature Of Daylight and the brutal quick cuts that showcase the spectres to come of Dr Banks's future. The music continues to allude the question, the editorial narrative answers. 

The feeling that roused in me from this, then related back to my own work and practice within sonic hauntology, led to me to creating the first draft of Symphony of a Lost Utopia.

As a composer, after some time you develop an internal calculous of your process, an instinct that lets you know if you are on the right track, or if what you are writing is uninspired, and for the sake of it.

For me, the best measurement of this is 'how quickly did I finish and was 'happy'. Typically, the quicker the writing session to completion, the most likeliness that what I've created is inspired and able to stand up against my intention.

Additional aspects of the composition such as the vocals were recorded as 'in' the process as possible, drawing from quickly producing technology such as voice memos which were airdropped to my mac for the vocals, and the russelling of stones from my dad on the patio while i was recorded. In the particular conceptual environment and 'site' I was in, it just worked.  

January 13th, 2024

site / field exploration

January 14th, 2024

cybernetic feedback loops

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This piece is the latest development of my work using cybernetic feedback loops as an tool for generative composition exploring 'liveness' amongst electronics. In addition to these cybernetic loops, this composition was deeply influenced by my walk yesterday morning in the Resolven mountain forests (images in above post)

To get to these woods, there is a long path that takes you down the mountain side, walking alongside a cliff drop of a few hundred feet. On this trail you feel completely exposed to the elements. There is no confinement, just you on a trail in what feels like an impossibly open aired space. A few hundred meters down the trail, revealed the opening into these forests. The first thing that struck me despite how bright it was on the trail, the woods in this opening seemed uncharacteristically dark for the time of day, the sunlight mostly absorbed by the large trees contained within, and at that moment it felt like I was peering into a completely different world.

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Entering this darker habitat, I soon found I had to change how i was interacting with the environment before me. 

Not only did I have to adjust the shutter speeds, the light let in through the lens's aperture, and increased ISO sensitivity on my camera, but also the ground was a completely different texture. 

My hard footsteps that led me down the trail felt out of place and almost 'too loud' in this space. I also found my camera wouldn't capture images the same as it had in the 'outside' world. Although these changes to approach may seem arbitrary or even obvious when thinking logically, what it really means is that upon entering this new space, it's ecologies changed the way I interacted not only with myself and my movements, but also how I had been interacting with technology and my own thought systems.

carried this sentiment into this improvisation session this morning that is the composition above, how a duality of two worlds can be synthesised to create something impactful. In the compositional case, the electronic with the organic. 

January 19th, 2024

'all art is hauntological':

inhabiting the subconscious 'site' through memory and practice

As Timothy Morton argues in his 2021 work 'all art is ecological',  it could be posed the same that all art is hauntological. In his text Morton alludes to the spectre of mass extinction as both a conscious and subconscious framework held within the approach of creative practitioners in the 21st century.

As the spectre is the prominent figure of hauntology, global warming and planetary annihilation is the type of spectre categorised as the 'reverent' - that which has happened before, and the anxiety that stems from its return in the future.

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The artwork and musical compositions I have been composing since my visiting of the Resolven forest and been informed by both ecological and hauntological matters - the ecological being the fieldwork of entering and inhabiting this place and documenting my experience through photography, the hauntolocical being the trace of forest and its impact that subconsciously worked its way into my compositional approaches - 

In the title I refer to this project as inhabiting the subconscious site,  and what I refer to as inhabiting the 'site' can mean residing in an environment, without explicit been present there at the time. 

Although having left the physical space of the mountain, I believe subconsciously I couldn't shake the impression that the darker space left, and this bled out into a series of compositions that when reconxtexualing them, would not have been created and approached in the same way without exploring these woods and documenting them through photography.

residing within the site, on a particular spring morning with the frost and low sun shining through the windows, I felt compelled to begin to document and take images - this was my kitchen that morning. 

Solstalgia Kieran Jenkins
00:00 / 02:48
You Won't Find ThemKieran Jenkins
00:00 / 03:02
Arriving In The End (Demo)Kieran Jenkins
00:00 / 02:56

February 6th, 2024

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When first deciding to pursue my PhD, one of the big things I really wanted to explore was field recordings as a method for creating compositions.

I think experiencing a place in person vs hearing back a recording of a place is a wholly other experience, and capturing these sonic snapshots of environment and location within a composition is something I've always been drawn to. 

In the first year of my PhD which was so heavily focused on theory, philosophy and the mind-melting (in a good way) work of the CCRU, this notion of field recordings began to fall by the way side as I wasn't sure how it would fit in anymore in this new model of cybernetics, dystopian futures and melancholia under late capitalism.

However, after chatting to some fellow creators and watching an incredible online lecture on field recordings by Yiorgis Sakellariou, I think I've found a way to bringing field recording and culturally investigative sound works that draw from the contemporary together. 

 

A paradigm shift for South Wales economy soon to happen is the closure of the blast furnaces of Tata Steel in Port Talbot, where nearly 3000 jobs will be lost in a town where the steel works were designed to develop a leading metal industry on local Welsh soil.

To commemorate this change in epoch not only for the steel industry now moving to automated facilities via electric arc furnaces, I have reached out to Tata Steel in Port Talbot to see if I could go in and record the sounds of the steelworks to document the sonic habitat of the steelworks.

March 1st, 2024

Tata Steel Field Recording

sympony write up
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