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‘Freudian Feedback’ (modified sitar + tabla) + ‘Turtlebox’ (hand-made instrument) at the Noise Colloquium – University of Greenwich 22 March 2015.
© Poulomi Desai and Dushume (aka Amit Patel)

The University of Greenwich hosted a two-day colloquium to explore noise as a concept that embraces the expressive, the idea of noise as a resistance and, through mutating repetition, a catalyst for creative production. Other speakers and performers included David Toop, Nicolas Collins (Art Institute of Chicago), Atau Tanaka (Goldsmiths University), Andrew Hill, Stephen Kennedy, Ian Thompson (University of Greenwich) Melanie Clifford, Sarah Sparkes, Rie Nakajima and Dirty Electronics.

Special thanks to John Richards (Dirty Electronics) and Andrew Hill (University of Greenwich).

‘Miss Havisham presents’ at The Cholmondely Boys Club, Dalston, London. Extracts from 20 minute freely improvised performance.

Poulomi Desai (prepared sitar and electronics), John Butcher (Saxophone), Tania Chen (Electronics, Piano), BJ Cole (pedal steel guitar), John Edwards (double bass), Lore Lixenberg (Mezzo-Soprano). Programmed by Steve Beresford and Tania Chen as part of an ongoing series of free improv nights at this iconic venue.

Presentation at The Equiano Centre, University College London.

5 February 2013.

A ‘tongue in cheek’ self-portrait video created in response to an invitation by The Equiano Centre to invoke questions of presence and identity at its Black LGBTT event. An alternative performative mechanism to explore a way of communicating individual experience – by no means a comprehensive representation “I have so much more to say but saying isn’t necessarily required…”

“The statue was now giving out an intermittent high-pitched whine, a sitar-like caterwauling that seemed to pull apart the sutures of my skull. Responding to the boos and protests, it suddenly began to whoop erratically, the horn-like sounds confusing the traffic on the far side of the square”. Venus Smiles by J.G. Ballard 1957. Part of the collection of stories in Vermillion Sands.

Extracts from video of prepared sitar performance rehearsals at Usurp Art Gallery. Conspirators of Pleasure are a new free improv duet of prepared sitar (Poulomi Desai) and prepared bass (Simon Underwood). See www.usurp.org.uk for forthcoming gigs and events. Recent performances include Cafe Oto, The Vortex and The Cholmondely Boys Club.

“The statue was now giving out an intermittent high-pitched whine, a sitar-like caterwauling that seemed to pull apart the sutures of my skull. Responding to the boos and protests, it suddenly began to whoop erratically, the horn-like sounds confusing the traffic on the far side of the square”. Venus Smiles by J.G. Ballard 1957. Part of the collection of stories in Vermillion Sands.

Extracts from video of prepared sitar performance rehearsals at Usurp Art Gallery. Conspirators of Pleasure are a loose free improv duet of prepared sitar (Poulomi Desai) and prepared bass (Simon Underwood). See www.usurp.org.uk for forthcoming gigs and events. Thanks to Adam Bohman for being and doing over the years.

Orford Ness “Over The Horizon” (2004)

Field Recordings by Poulomi Desai 

In the cold autumn of 2004, artist Poulomi Desai (Usurp Art) and Joe Banks (Disinformation) visited Orford Ness, a once top secret military testing base abandoned in the 1980s and now a protected nature reserve with a precious shingle eco-system. A series of large-scale photographs, field recordings and this video are among the artworks created by Poulomi Desai. The ghostly musical tones heard in this location recording are created by wind swirling across and through metal structures – no manipulation has been used.

A ferry crosses to this seemingly bleak spit of land that is both un-nerving and captivating. The contrast between feeling a sense of menace and yet delight at the tough wildness with spiky plants crawling over the remnants of dereliction was strange. The mood was eerie and the place was deserted. The architecture of the numerous buildings is steeped in secrecy and closure from the outside world. The conversation veered from details about the site’s past, reminiscence about Greenham Common and CND, and into sadness upon the impossible possibility of nuclear disarmament.

The title “Over The Horizon” refers to the 1968 top secret Anglo-American System 441A radar project, finally codenamed “Cobra Mist”. This cold war project was set up to carry out several missions, including detection and tracking of aircraft, detection of missile and satellite vehicle launchings, fulfilling intelligence requirements and providing a test bed for research and development. Orford Ness was used as a Ministry of Defence weapons and testing site from the beginning of the First World War to the mid 1980s, and was the site for testing Britain’s first atom bomb, the “Blue Danube”. The site was handed over to The National Trust in 1993 and is one of the largest naturally formed shingle spits in the world. © Poulomi Desai

http://www.usurp.org.uk  http://www.cnduk.org

“The war against death, dear Harry, is always a beautiful, noble, and wonderful, and glorious thing, and so, it follows, is the war against war. But it is always hopeless and quixotic too.” – Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Excerpt from an improvised performance by the Conspirators of Pleasure at the Optophonic Festival organised by Peak Signal 2 Noise at Montgomery Theatre, Tramlines Sheffield. 26th July 2014

The Optophonic Festival was a day of participatory workshops and exploratory performances combining film and sonic experiment and hands-on creative contagion for all. Also featuring workshops and performances by Adam Bohman, Sharon Gal, Heather Leigh, Rhodri-Davies, Murray-Royston-Ward, Blood-Stereo, Human-Heads, Mick-Beck, Luke-Poot, Blue Yodel and McWatt/Bettany. Thanks to Cathy Soreny and all the crew at Peak Signal 2 Noise.

Also see the performance workshop “PhonoPollock” here

More about the Conspirators of Pleasure: www.conspire.org.uk

Experiments with Noise No 5 is part of an ongoing project by Poulomi Desai exploring sound and colour frequencies. This piece is an allergorical interpretation of The Lombard Reflex (explained below). The ‘voices’ here are the competing pitches of literal noise, increasing in volume as the ambient noise changes. The corresponding colour frequencies intensify the experience through the persistence of vision, increasing to a frenetic conclusion of white noise and static. The series also alludes to early optical film experiments with sound and visuals, sometimes called ‘colour music’. To experience the transitions fully you need to stay with the video till the end, on full screen and loud – thanks for viewing!

©Poulomi Desai 2012. www.usurp.org.uk. You can view the other Experiments with Noise in the series in this playlist. For exhibition purposes, the series are multi-screened on loop simultaneously with adaptations to site specific conditions.

The Lombard Reflex, (aka The Lombard Effect) is the involuntary tendency of speakers to increase their vocal effort when speaking in ambient noisy conditions to enhance the audibility of their voice. This change includes not only loudness but also other acoustic features such as pitch and rate and duration of sound syllables.This compensation effect results in an increase in the auditory signal-to-noise ratio of the speaker’s spoken words. The effect was discovered in 1909 by Étienne Lombard, a French otolaryngologist.

“Turn it up! Bring the noise!” Public Enemy.

Transport for London: Art on the Underground commission and exhibition. 2006 – 2011.

Video of the exhibition of 72 digital poster self-portraits (long before the rise of the selfie!) by local people in Harrow Middlesex displayed at North Harrow Station, which became the longest running exhibition at a station. The portraits were produced in workshops devised by myself at the Fovea Gallery, Harrow Museum and Harrow Arts Centre. The works were inspired by imagery from my book and exhibition “Red Threads” which explores personal and visual identity.  Participants were encouraged to imagine what it would be like to change their identity. They experimented with costume, disguise, facial and bodily expression and recorded their transformations through photography. Using pastel and paint, they made patterns and decorative detail on some of the photographs to add a further layer to the new identities they were creating. The results are a range of self portraits that offer an intriguing, playful and visually dynamic representation of Harrow’s diverse community.

‘Miss Havisham presents’ at The Cholmondely Boys Club, Dalston, London. BJ Cole (pedal steel guitar), Poulomi Desai (prepared sitar and electronics) and John Butcher (Saxophone). Programmed by Steve Beresford and Tania Chen as part of an ongoing series of free improv nights at this iconic venue.

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