The Hawke EU Centre for Mobilities, Migrations and Cultural Transformations at the University of South Australia have commissioned me to create a musical gallery installation based on the concept of Identity.

Here’s their spiel.

This is my first ‘art’ commission. I’m excited and nervous.

In musical terms, as I see it (or hear it), the identity of a composition would be its unique harmonic structure, and I have worked from this assumption backwards to create a generative piece which has external noise (the chaos that is the world), and inbuilt volatility (from analogue white noise) at odds with this identity, hence Identity vs Noise.

I’ve chosen my preferred instrument of the last few years – a modular synthesizer – and I’ve assembled a unique custom synth for the installation. It looks like this (but not exactly – not all modules are final choices and there will be lots of patch cords connecting them).


Most of the directives for the sound and the harmonic content come from within the synth, but not all. Viewers, listeners, in Helsinki, Dublin and Tokyo can impact the piece. Each satellite webcast location has a single switch – any audience member can press it and reverse its polarity. When all 4 satellite’s polarities coincide, then radical changes in the piece may be implemented.

It may seem strange to read, but assembling the synthesizer, choosing the modules to create the synthesizer, took at least as much time and energy as composing the piece. Maybe because there are almost infinite possibilities within the Eurorack format, maybe because I seem to be becoming more and more OCD as I get older… The idea of the ‘perfect’ solution loomed over the project in a counterproductive manner for several weeks until I had to put my foot down. Which wasn’t easy as it was my own tendencies which were responsible for the stalemate.

Once the synth was settled then composition could begin and that took about a day. The rest of the time (5 weeks and counting) has been logistics.

I have (hopefully) 2 more days of these logistics, and they will be Feb 23 & 24. The piece will go live on Feb 25.

The Sound Installation will be presented by the Hawke EU Centre for Mobilities Migrations and Cultural Transformations in partnership with Keio University (Japan), TAV Gallery (Japan), Trinity Long Room Hub (Ireland) and the Museum of Finnish Architecture (Finland).