Mineral Machine Music

Mineral Machine Music has become a successful global touring artwork since its debut in Townsville in January 2014. Most significantly, it was shortlisted for the prestigious Lumen Digital Arts Prize in Cardiff in June 2014. The Lumen is recognised by the UK’s Guardian newspaper as the “The world’s pre-eminent digital art prize”. As a result of this shortlisting Mineral Machine Music was a part of the Lumen touring program that visited Cardiff, Amsterdam, Athens, the New York Institute of Technology on Broadway and will have a season at London’s famous Crypt Gallery beneath St Pancras’ church in May 2015. In December, the film was also shortlisted for the MADATAC06 video art award in Spain screening at the historic Palacio de Cibeles Auditorium in Madrid. Most recently Mineral Machine Music was selected from over 2500 works to feature in the 16th Media Art Biennale in Wroclaw, Poland in May.

After debuting  in its original installation configuration at the Synthesis Exhibition at Umbrella Studios in Townsville in January 2014. It has since been selected as a finalist for the Arcanum Film and Animation Festival in Estonia (May 2014), screened at the Color Arts Festival in Hungary (June 2014), installed in its gallery configuration at Prism 16 at Sheffield in the UK (July 2014) and screened at the ElectricShorts program as a part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival (October 2014).

Project Synopsis

An audio visual collaboration between geologist Clement Fay and media artist Mitch Goodwin. Mineral Machine Music is a collaborative exploration of the fabric of the earth as seen from the stage of a microscope and the lens of the industrialized city. The work juxtaposes the man made structural textures of the New York cityscape with the geological mineral formations from the South Australian outback. Blending cityscape with substrate Fay & Goodwin compliment the imagery with layers of sonic noise – musical representations of tectonic activity, echoes of the universe from deep space and the groans of the restless earth all juxtaposed against the industrial machine ambiance of a New York City subway.

Lumen Winners’ Events 2014 from Lumen Prize Exhibition on Vimeo.

Previously, Mineral Machine Music debuted in its original installation configuration at the Synthesis Exhibition at Umbrella Studios in Townsville in January 2014. It has since been selected as a finalist for the Arcanum Film and Animation Festival in Estonia (May 2014), screened at the Color Arts Festival in Hungary (June 2014), installed in its gallery configuration at Prism 16 at Sheffield in the UK (July 2014) and screened at the ElectricShorts program as a part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival (October 2014).

Production still from Mineral Machine Music (Goodwin & Fay, 2014)

Production still from Mineral Machine Music (Goodwin & Fay, 2014)

Installation Guidelines

Ideally the work is designed to be viewed as a large scale projection where sound can be amplified using standard stereo speakers complimented with a bass amplifier to accentuate the seismic recordings and other low frequency sounds embedded into the soundtrack. In a gallery configuration, as it was at Umbrella Studios, the work can be displayed on a large LCD screen with headphones. Again this should be complimented by a bass amplifier to support the experience of the soundtrack by emphasizing both the aural and physical sensations of the lower frequencies. In the gallery space, while obviously a strong presence, the bass tones are infrequent, separated by disquieting patches of silence, all of which add to a peculiar sense of foreboding in the space.

Synthesis Poster

A Work In Progress

Mineral Machine Music was initially designed to be an interactive work in which a viewer experienced the magnification of both the mineral samples and the urban subway textures at different magnifications and depths according to their proximity to the screen. The space in which this would occur would be a long corridor with the screen and bass amplifier at one end and a concealed entrance at the other. Pairs of stereo speakers would be placed at 1m intervals along the length of the corridor. The audio track consisting of the subway station and urban samples, musical notes, rock crushing samples, seismic activity and the hum from deep space would follow the viewer as they moved through the space gaining intensity as they approached the screen.

As this was the first collaboration between Goodwin & Fay and with most of the production roles shared between them what appears here is merely an example of the aesthetic relationship between the visual samples and an indication of the type of sound design techniques that might be possible. It is the ambition of the project team that it would be further explored as an interactive work. The project therefore requires an expanded collaboration with an experienced Sound Designer and a MAX/MSP or Processing programmer to manipulate both the images and audio tracks with respect to the movement of the audience in the exhibition/screening space.

Project Documentation

This above demonstration work was produced in a fever in far north Queensland at James Cook University’s School of Creative Arts and the School of Earth and Environment Sciences. Editing and mixing was conceived and completed at Hale Street and The Strand, Townsville between December 2013 and January 2014.

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