Nhoj Elocin 2017

Nhoj Elocin is a collaboration of John Ferguson and Nicole Carroll. This project explores improvisation with lively/semi-autonomous processes in surround-sound environments using custom software and self-made instruments. While human interaction with tactile interfaces is vital to the musical result, algorithmic complexity provides a catalyst for the articulation of musical events, manipulation of processing parameters, and the spatialisation of sound. The goal is to traverse a new vista of music making via noise aesthetics, contemporary computer music, and the repetitive rhythms of groove-based pop forms.

Exploring the role of improvisation in contemporary electronic music is the main agenda, this is achieved through the creation of new artistic work using self-made instruments in a collaborative and improvised scenario. This project investigates alternative controllers, embedded computing, mobile music making, multi-channel audio, and the blurring of musical boundaries.

John performs with Mobile Noise Rig (MNR), this is a handmade instrument built around a Teensy microcontroller and an iPad. MNR features arcade buttons for tactile responsiveness and visual feedback, as well as a bend-sensor equipped hole-punch that underlines the potential of everyday and often-overlooked mechanisms. Bespoke software written in Pure data combines granular sample-mangling with lively approaches to vernacular rhythm and groove. Pseudo-random and generative processes place notions of ‘imagined-agency’ at the foreground. All of the MNR software runs on an iPad via Mobile Music Platform (MobMuPlat). John’s pseudo-anthropomorphic practice raises issues of causality, agency and legibility. MNR foregrounds the question: are we performing the technology or is it performing us?

Nicole performs with the Byzantine controller, which utilizes capacitive touch sensors on a circular grid (modelled after a Byzantine chessboard) that visually mirrors a surround sound configuration. The goal in developing this controller is to help merge the performance aesthetics of acousmatic diffusion with that of hacked electronics. Audio from homemade analog circuits is sent to Max/MSP, where pitch and amplitude tracking in conjunction with chance procedures control processing parameters. Chance procedures are driven by tarot card relationships and numerology as the software “draws” cards during performance. Direct and ambient light actuates a master circuit, ensuring a degree of uncertainty. The agency of the system–the machines in combination with chance procedures–prompts a responsive approach from the performer.

In September 2017 Nhoj Elocin performed at Elder Hall, Elder Conservatorium of Music, University of Adelaide, as part of the Australasian Computer Music Conference (ACMC). The ACMC concert was in surround with both musicians diffusing sound direct from their instruments. In October 2017 Nhoj Elocin performed (in stereo) at Alchemix Brisbane as part of regular experimental music night OscilloScape. Movies recorded QCGU July 2017.

Links to online documentation