Singing Light 2

Julie Watkins, University of Greenwich

In a dark spacious room a projector throws colourful animations onto the black walls and translucent screens. Shapes playfully animate. An acousmetre’s voice wells up. According to Michel Chion an acousmetre is an: 

[A]cousmatic character whose relationship to the screen involves a specific kind of ambiguity and oscillation… We may define it as neither inside nor outside the image. It is not inside, because the image of the voice’s source – the body, the mouth – is not included. Nor is it outside, since it is not clearly positioned offscreen.

(Chion, et al, 1994, 129)

Walk into a space that treats the entire space as a painter’s canvas, like Hans Richter’s movie-canvas but with depth in real space.

Three frames showing the progression of the movie-canvas down and out of screen, revealing a small black rectangle.

The voice and the animation go beyond the frame; background changes with foreground, negative shapes change to positive shapes and evanescent illusions are created. Walk into the film, find your own path around the screens and see the animations from all sides. Create your own shadows. Come and be immersed in your own way. 


Julie Watkins is a senior lecturer in Film and Television at the University of Greenwich. She worked as lead creative in prestigious Post-Production facilities in Soho and Manhattan. She designed concepts, led Technical Direction, Animation, Motion Graphic and Visual Effects Teams, for Commercials, Broadcast Graphics and Films. She taught at New York University. She joined the University of Greenwich in 2006, initiated a Film and Television degree and partnership with the BBC. She has MA (distinction) in Graphic Design from University of the Arts London. Supporting her visual music practice she has presented papers and shown work at DRHA 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and Sound / Image 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, Seeing Sound 2018, EVA 2018, published papers in Body Space & Technology Journal in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and is now completing a PhD.

Ethnic Diversity in Sites of Cultural Activity

Ryo Ikeshiro, Bath Spa University

Stand in front of the webcam to be racially profiled by the computer! Are you more likely to be waving a flag at the Last Night of the Proms or to the unofficial ISIS anthem, or is the gay anthem Go West more your soundtrack?

Ethnic Diversity in Sites of Cultural Activity poses the question of whether computers can be racist by highlighting the potential for discrimination of face recognition technology. The work locates faces, detects skin colour and alters the sound and image produced depending on the ethnic diversity of the visitors to the exhibition. Different music is selected depending on where the work is exhibited. The project has been presented in the UK, Austria, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Korea and Japan.

Through a crude racial profiling of visitors, it draws attention to an increasingly common technology which is an example of how a seemingly neutral entity such as a computer can reinforce existing power structures. The context of a playful interactive installation is also a reflection of how we rarely focus on the ways in which software functions, instead becoming preoccupied with the interface; most software are prepackaged “black boxes” inaccessible due to their proprietary and closed nature. In addition, it is not completely infallible as with most software and it may be possible to trick the algorithm e.g. by visitors covering parts of their face, using make-up or changing lighting conditions which they are encouraged to do.


Ryo Ikeshiro is an artist, musician and researcher working with audio and time-based media to explore possibilities of thinking through sound. He is interested in the artistic potential of computation and code as well as their cultural and political dimension i.e. both the aesthetic possibilities brought about by the technology and its wider context. Techniques of sonification – the communication of information and data in non-speech audio – are harnessed in an artistic context, with algorithms and processes presented as sound to investigate computational creativity and the relationship between the audio and the visual. In addition, the manifestation through sound and technology of issues of identity and Otherness is explored. Comparable processes to sonification are also used, such as ideophones in East Asian languages – words which evoke silent phenomena through sound. Ryo’s output includes installations and live performances in a variety of formats including immersive environments using multi-channel projections and audio, 360-video and Ambisonics (spatial audio), field recordings, interactive works, Teletext art and generative works. Recent themes explored include echolocation, computer vision, artificial intelligence, algorithmic bias, sonic branding, urban regeneration, singing voice synthesis, 3D-printing and engraving, mental health, noise, emergence and non-standard synthesis. Ryo has presented his works internationally in a wide range of contexts including exhibitions, festivals, concerts and screenings as well as academic conferences. He was part of the Asia Culture Center’s inaugural exhibition in Gwangju, South Korea, and his TeleText art pages have been broadcast on German, Austrian and Swiss national TV. He is a contributor to Sound Art: Sound as a medium of art, a forthcoming publication from ZKM Karlsruhe and he is featured in the Electronic Music volume of the Cambridge Introductions to Music series. He has a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London. The topic explored was real-time data sonification and visualisation – or live “audiovisualisation” – of emergent generative systems within the framework of audiovisual and computational art. He also works as a lecturer.


Hye Young Sin, Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany

Time-piece is based on a six-meter-long structure of honeycomb paperboard. Dried plants, a stone, needles, erasers, wine corks, a metallic brush and cable-ties are combined with electronic devices. Those small motorized objects make subtle sounds by touching the cardboard in their different ways. Each sonic movement slowly changes by time due to a gradual decline of batteries and gains a new rhythm after the power supply changes. This sounding dynamics are contrasted by the visual linearity. 

To arrange and combine the mundane with the electronic, especially using the batteries, is inspired by the film Le Bonheur(1965) which questions individual role and social function in terms of family dynamics, as Agnes Varda, a director of the film, mentioned, “Each of us is unique but replaceable. If a woman fulfils her functions as a wife, mother, cook, and gardener, the family does well. Every woman may discover her identity, her talent and her place but she is replaceable insofar as she fulfils her social function.”   


Hye Young Sin Born 1988 in Seoul, South Korea lives and studies in Cologne, Germany 2016 – Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany (Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln) 2007 – 2014 Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea / Bachelor of Arts in Information and Culture Technology / Bachelor of Arts in Consumer Science.

Communicating Vessel: Portal of Emotion

Christian Groothuizen, University of East London

The object is 3D printed from data sourced from a series of field recordings made by the artist. The recordings explore sound’s complex relationship with architecture and the built environment. The work describes both the exploration through making of real objects and a nascent enquiry into ‘Sound Objects’ as phenomenological events, drawing from Pierre Schaeffer’s view that the Sound Object, ‘is a kind of phenomenological quest for the essence of sound’. These investigations form the basis of an investigation into architectural space, sound and memory.

In his Ten Books of Architecture, Vitruvius (80 BCE to 15 BCE) describes how bronze ’acoustic urns’ were placed amongst theatre audiences to enhance the vocal performance of actors on stage.

There are no known extant examples of this Greco/Roman technology. With the rediscovery of Vitruvius’ writings in the middle ages, many stone chapels, throughout France and England, were constructed with stoneware urns placed within the walls to obtain a similar effect. Modern scientific analysis shows that the effect is negligible. A recent theory suggests that the vessels were employed as portals to communicate with angels.


Christian Groothuizen is a New Zealand born artist, working and living in London. He has been described by Creation Records founder Alan McGee as ‘a bit of a space cadet’. He was a founder member of the 80’s Indie rock band The House of Love, after the band’s demise in the mid-nineties he studied architecture and became a full-time educator. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Fine Art at the University of East London. His interests are in sound practice, listening, field recording and exploring the phenomenological and emotional role of sound and acoustics within the built environment.