Machine-assembled Dislocation (MAD)

In 2014 I performed Flingle_Flangle live at Wesleyan University as part of SEAMUS (Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) and at NYCEMF (New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival). A mediatized version was presented at ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) in Athens and I  also performed as one third of FHM at NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) in London.

Flingle Flangle @ NYCEMF 2014 from Flingle_Flangle on Vimeo.

MAD is a hybrid computer instrument that extends the electric guitar via two Nintendo ‘Wii Remotes’ and a Keith McMillan ‘SoftStep’,  in combination with STEIM’s ‘JunXion’ and Ableton’s ‘Live/Max4Live’ software. Because the presence of effort and struggle are important to my practice, I seek to imbue this system with a sense of agency, so it may appear to resist and query my actions, in a role similar to that of the coyote in Joseph Beuys’ ‘I Like America and America Likes Me’. Live Sampling, granulation, bit reduction, and ring modulation are an important part of the overall soundworld, as are ‘normal’ guitar effects such as reverb, delay, and spectral filtering – though these are rather more extreme than is traditional amongst guitarists. MAD is partially operated by pressure-sensitive foot-pedals, it also tracks velocity on three axes via accelerometer data from the Nintendo ‘Wii Remotes’, effectively sensing orientation, vibration and shock. Although the ‘Wii Remotes’ sometimes affect parameters that have no direct relationship with the guitar, being able to interface with the computer by adjusting the angle at which the guitar hangs from my body is intuitive, and the fact that the controllers are attached to the guitar make this performance ecology feel like a unified instrument.


Currently I am  performing  solo and in various collaborations: FHM, Porous Torsion, and Whistle Pig Saloon. Further discussion can be found in Ferguson, J. (2013) Imagined Agency: Technology, Unpredictability, and Ambiguity. Contemporary Music Review, Vol. 32, Issue 02, p. 135-149.

Solo performance of ‘Sunday @ STEIM’ at The Sage, Gateshead, March 2009.

The first version of MAD was developed during an artistic residency at STEIM in Amsterdam in November 2008, see the STEIM blog here and hear the first ever piece made with the system below: