Chromaticity is an installation and performance featuring photographic images, live clarinet improvisation and a generative soundscape incorporating instrumental samples and environmental field recordings from the You Yangs, Victoria, Australia. The images, live improvisation and recordings form a visual and aural installation to create an emotional and environmental response to the landscape and a sense of connection with the essence of the You Yangs.
Field recordings of the You Yang environment inform the “sonic postcard” nature of Chromaticity’s generative soundscape. Features such as the drone of a major highway, trains, a working quarry, children playing, bush-walking and mountain-bike riding area and other anthropogenic sounds are retained to reveal the current day sonic space.
The three images of the You Yangs, taken at dawn, meridian and dusk, reveal a dynamic and vivid spectrum of landscape colours. Each image informs a 5-minute movement of the work. A fourth image is projected directly onto the performer - in a sense, immersing them in the landscape.
For each image, parameters were assigned for sample and note duration, mode, tempo, sound density and pitch. The electromagnetic frequencies of the light spectrum were related to frequencies of sound waves and the saturation of colour determined the intensity of the sounds. Images were mapped and assigned notes with sounds of interest within the field recordings inspiring small motifs and cells to be sampled - performed on a range of instruments (Bass Clarinet, Taegum, Flute and small percussion instruments).
A Max/MSP patch controls playback of field recordings associated with the time of day of each movement and provides a mechanism by which the sampled motifs and cells are triggered to form a harmonic backdrop for the clarinet improvisation. The contours of the landscape, as captured by Millen, are mapped to derive data input for control of parameters within the Max patch, and to suggest target notes for the clarinetist's improvisation in a small window within the patch. Thus, the patch containing this window, along with the images and mapping of their contours becomes a supplementary score for the performer to follow during live performance (along with the composer’s notes describing tonality and motifs of each section).
The installation was premiered at the 4-hour Geelong After Dark pop-up arts festival held on Friday the 5th of May 2017 between 6 pm and 10 pm by the City of Greater Geelong. Approximately 250 people engaged with the installation during the 4-hour event. There were numerous comments from the public wishing to reconnect and visit a place they hadn't visited in many years or decades, even though they see it on their daily horizon.
The event was free, and participation and interaction with the artists was encouraged. The audience - young, elderly, dancing in the space, pretending to be trees, absorbed in conversation with artists and other participants, asking questions about music composition, the You Yangs, noise, “ear-cleaning”, noise pollution, generative computer programming, anthropogenic sounds and more - helped the implications of the Chromaticity installation crystallise on the night: increased public awareness of You Yangs, environment and the effects of noise pollution; public interaction with artists and their art, public conversations about the creative process be it visual art, photography, music or composition; sparking new interest in contemporary art music, computer programming, improvisation and live performance.
Vicki Hallett is a composer, musician and sound artist who graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts and the University of Melbourne. She has composed, produced and performed in live concerts, solo recordings ranging from chamber music to sound art and acoustic ecology. Through a unique approach combining acoustic ecology, scientific analysis and innovative performance practices, Hallett reshapes the role of interdisciplinary research. This exploration has led her to develop a collaborative concept with Cornell University's Elephant Listening Project. In 2017, Hallett attended the international residency, Sonic Mmabolela, where she performed on Mabolel Rock with a pod of Hippopotami.
Ferne Millen attended The Victorian College of Arts (Melbourne University) completing a Bachelor in Visual & Performing arts(major. photography & theatre). Millen was a finalist in the 2015 National Photographic Portrait Prize for her photograph of “Who’s that lady?”, has twice been a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize as well as a dual finalist in the 2014 Moran Prize in Sydney. Her clients including Deakin University, Porsche, Citi Power, City of Melbourne, Tennis Australia, Geelong Arts Centre, Universal Music and many individuals, musicians and artists.
Jem Savage is a musician and sound artist for improvised and new music. His performances effortlessly blend live processing, looping and interactive visuals with highly developed instrumental techniques-often leveraging proprietary software and hardware devises including iPSi, the Isomorphic Pitch-Shifting Interface. Savage has performed or collaborated with a unique cross-section of improvisers, experimental musicians and composers including the AAO, Gian Slater’s Invenio and Barney McAll. Savage is currently a PhD candidate within the Faculty of VCA and MCM at the University of Melbourne.