Shimmera

Lauren Sarah Hayes

Shimmera
(2016)

Hybrid analogue/digital live electronic improvisation

Shimmera was formed out of a playful exploration of my most recent hybrid analogue/digital performance system. An excessive number of components mutually affect each other through an ecological network of sound analysis and DSP. Engaging with different parts of the instrument through tangible and haptic controllers, I bring a sense of immediacy into my hands: the slightest movement may trigger a mechanical relay bank, which in turn may active digital processes. The idea of sound sculpting (Emmerson 2011) suggests an active process of deliberately shaping sonic material through tangible interactions. As a performer, not only do I want to be able to manipulate the material that I create, but I want to be able to feel this sense of the malleability of sound through my audio-tactile interactions, and to be able to sense that I am approaching the thresholds of my electronic processes both with my hands, as well as my ears.

The resistances in my performance environments lie within the extreme potential for activity through interconnections within the audio signal path. Yet, a joystick-centred controller is so easy to move, that musicality comes from resisting this: a movement of even one millimetre can drastically alter the sound.

Furthermore, in this piece I develop the notion of live performance as perceptually guided action. Digital audio has no real-world physical source, compared to, for example, the resonating body of a piano. As such the performer senses this loss of vibrational feedback. I employ vibrotactile feedback, sent directly to my skin through a custom wireless haptic device, in order to reintroduce this physical sensation and enhance my engagement in the shared participatory space between performer and instrument.