For our concert #BowDown in October 2017, recent Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama graduate Daniel Soley and current postgraduate student Diogo Gomes joined us as Trainee Creative Producers. Daniel and Diogo created digital installations for #BowDown, and in this post they reflect on their experiences.
Making #BowDownloaded; a Daniel Soley Digital Installation:
Diogo and I decided to take on one interval slot each for the short performances that would take place in Tramshed Tech’s Engine Room at the first of our Curate series concerts. Since starting the partnership with Sinfonia Cymru I’d been building an idea of what I’d like to see feature at a forward thinking, accessible contemporary classical concert. I liked the functional value of DJ sets, which naturally carry transitions of mood and material, and I wanted to combine this with a desire to make something unique and tailored to #BowDown that could draw from the programmed repertoire. The popular vibes of electronica and dance music I believe also play to the favour of an interval atmosphere and could offer a tasteful contrast for our wide target audience. I also knew the use of moving image was going to provide an interesting addition to the string ensemble performances, so I decided I wanted to push that theme and incorporate my exploration into digital art into my set by making use of the projector we had access to.
A lot of hours went into creating #BowDownloaded’s content; finding a variety of beats I wanted to mix to, and crafting the samples of strings. These were inspired by the pulsating John Adams, which the audience would’ve just witnessed in the first part of the night’s programme. The sounds of my performance would then morph into the evocative world of Pärt, whose works the audience would hear after the interval, giving them an appetising taster. For this I was able to present the suitable and vibrant existing reimagining of Fratres made by Oakland electronic outfit, Beats Antique. I made sure to exploit the use of dynamics and frequency in the mix of music to produce eye catching results in the digital visualiser I was creating, which altered various colours, dimensions and values of abstract moving circles on screen. It was presented in a way that also displayed the code and its active inner workings, to intrigue even more from its audience. Another level of live performance was added to the process regarding the use of my MicroKorg synthesiser and live manipulation skills to supply further sonic effects and spectacle.
We used Sinfonia Cymru’s good relationship with an events production company to hire a beautiful HK Audio PA system for the space, and explored lighting and design aspects to suit the occasion using Tramshed Tech’s furniture and some personal accessories.
For me, the night was a great success – whilst managed just by the two of us, the setup, transition and pack down for our installations was quick and smooth. As I focused on jockeying in my set, the room quickly filled with wondering ears and eyes, simultaneously enjoying their BowDown beers. The big glass wall and windows of the space had plenty of people peering through them also, wanting to soak up the action.
I really enjoyed what I was doing for this event which meant I could really connect with my performance and create something special for our short time in the limelight. It also meant a good deal to me that I was able to demonstrate what classically trained artists are getting up to these days, and demonstrate innovation achievable from exploring art across platforms. I’m excited to get working on my next material for Curate #WineGlass, coming December 9th.
I’m honest: when I was first asked to come up with something for one of the intervals of Curate, I had no idea of what I would come up with. It took me days to finally be able to imagine something in my head, and, even though I ended up with a wide range of different ideas, it just felt like that one was THE ONE. For me, art needs to have a purpose. I find it amazing that, as an artist, I can connect with a wide variety of people in a heartbeat. Music just for the sake of music, or playing just for the sake of it, feels almost like a waste. It was under this ideas, and considering the current situation that we live in, with white supremacist rallies in the US, the rise of hate crimes and xenophobia, that I felt like it was almost my “duty” as an artist to shed some light about the subject. Charlie Chaplin’s iconic speech, even though it is 70 years old already, depicts perfectly the current state of the world, and is able to put such profound words in such a battle cry that I can’t even start to describe. The music, “Time”, by Hans Zimmer just had the perfect title and feel that I was looking for.
Having decided what I wanted to do, it was time to put myself to work. Let my beard grow, get a nice tie, shave my beard down to a Hitler mustache and voilá. The transformation was done. Then it was just a matter of getting a nice venue, the RWCMD’s Dora Stoutzker Hall, and start recording. It took me a couple of weeks to be able to memorize the speech, as well as practicing it in front of a mirror, to make sure I’d get the facial and body expressions just about right. It is one of the most powerful speeches ever, so I wanted to make sure I could pass on that feeling. Fortunately, I could say that hard work pays off, as I am honest to say that I was quite pleased with the result – even though it took me about 15 attempts to film it!
And then: the performance. I must admit: it went better than I expected! The performance space was quite small, which has its ups and downs – especially when playing drums. One of the most important sounds of the whole kit was the resonance of the bass drum, which can be too much sound in a small space. Fortunately, I was able to dampen it enough so that this wouldn’t happen, achieving a nice volume between the live instruments. However, this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Dan, who, sitting at the mixing desk, was able to make everything actually sound like an ensemble, instead of me just bashing around on the drums, whilst there was a projection of me attempting a speech going on on the wall!
The next Curate concert #WineGlass is on 9th December – to book tickets click here.