Torrents was an idea first formed in 2017 while working as an artist in residence in Sydney, Australia. The idea was to create an interactive performance presented through a quadrophonic speaker array. Torrents 1.5 is a development on this original foundation.
Originally, the work was presented as a live performance that then gave way to audience interaction. Torrents 1.5 takes this idea and presents a format for an interactive sound art installation. Torrents 1.5 is intended to be an installation that is interacted with through a midi controller. The installation is based around a PureData patch that allows an audience member to interact with the sounds that are coming out through each individual speaker. The audience member can interact with the music of the installation and create a soundscape that has the potential to be completely unique to that of the next person. Torrents 1.5 is a development of an idea but not it’s final intended state. This installation is planned for a multi-speaker array, four or above. 1.5 is limited to the stereo field for the purpose of this presentation.
The soundscape that makes up Torrents 1.5 is a combination of originally composed music and field recordings that were captured during a one-month residency in Itoshima, Japan. The piece you hear as part of Torrents 1.5 is a section for the work Dual Location, which paired field recordings from the rural area of Itoshima with recordings of Fukuoka city. These recordings inform the aesthetic direction of the work while building the foundations of the soundscape. Presenting Dual Locations through the medium of Torrents 1.5 allows me to explore the composition in a new light, further developing the existing material.
Conceptually, the work is based on a loose interpretation of the way digital files are shared through peer-to-peer sharing. When a torrent is downloaded through a peer-to-peer service the file is created by taking information from multiple sources and combining them to create a complete whole. Following this idea, Torrents 1.5 is using multiple sounds that are then being dispersed through a speaker array (however large it may be) that then creates the sum of the work. Each speaker acts as a ‘seed’ within the piece and as the user interacts with the interface, they are able to develop the sum of the work – in a sense mimicking the role of the downloader.
The purpose of Torrents 1.5 is to develop new and novel ways of approaching sound-art installation and exploring the possibilities that programs such as PureData allow within the medium. Another aim of the project is to present new possibilities for audience participation with an installation. This could lead to further develop of the project or spawn ideas for new projects that follow the same or similar template; for example, combining the work with live performance.
Ben Harb is a sound artist, composer and performer from Canberra, Australia. As a graduate of the Australian National University’s School of Music Ben has worked with many members of the local and international experimental music and art communities including the ANU New Music Ensemble, the Experimental Music Studio, Opus and bands such as Ecruteak and Lost Coast. Ben’s work focuses on the relationship between fixed media and live instrumentation with an emphasis on the performer’s agency when playing a piece.
Ben’s interests as a composer lie between contemporary Post-Rock and the experimental sounds of movements such as minimalism and free improvisation.