An interview with me by VTC10, broadcast February 2013.
The British Council in Hanoi supports the arts. This is what they have to say about their support for music
From classical concerts to contemporary electronic music, we organise a wide range of musical events in collaboration with Vietnamese partner to showcase the best of British music to Vietnam.
This is what they have to say about visual arts
As well as introducing examples of the UK contemporary visual arts, we have been engaging with a number of Vietnamese young visual artists from different fields to support to them in developing their individuality and creativity
So, I decided to compare their stirring words with their actions, at least in April and May, and pit them against what Goethe Institut have done in the same period.
In April – May 2013, Goethe Institut supported:
- Screening of two films ‘Helsink, Forever’ and ‘Goodnight, Sofia’
- 3 concerts – Munich Chamber Choir
- Simon Starling (British artist, Turner Prize winner) coming to speak at DocLab/Goethe Institut
- An exhibition about comics – “Comics, Manga & Co. – The new German comic culture” with attendance by comic artist Line Hoven
- 3rd European Literature Days at Goethe Institut and L’Espace
- Solo for a Choir – Nguyen Trinh Thi’s installation at Goethe Institut + live performance
- Students of Städeschule visiting Goethe Institut – workshops + film screenings
- Clarifying the Record – film screenings at Goethe Institut
- Meet the Artists – Hanoi Soundstuff event in the Goethe Institut Courtyard
- Screening of two films ‘The Prize’ and ‘Silent Light’
- Book launch ‘Vietnamese Contemporary Art 1990–2010’ – Goethe Institut
In April – May 2013 the British Council supported:
- Leafcutter John and Horacio Pollard coming to Hanoi Soundstuff
- Indie rock band Guillemots performing at the Youth Theatre
I realise that it’s difficult to compare what Goethe Institut do with the British Council, especially since Goethe have their own space (like L’Espace), but I can’t help feeling that the British Council are letting the side down. Goethe even helped a prominent UK contemporary artist (Simon Starling) to come and talk about his work and collaborate with a Vietnamese artist. I’ll keep my personal feelings out of this, but you can’t help but notice that the British Council is doing the absolute minimum required to still say it’s doing something in the arts. I’ll leave with a quote from the (current) British Council website.
The British Council in Vietnam is pleased to announce the 2011 British Council Arts Fund.
Last night at Hanoi Rock City was a subdued affair. A small crowd mingled in the increasing humidity and heat of Hanoi’s early summer evenings. A small crowd anticipating something special happening upstairs in HRC’s black box. This venue is one of the only real black-box spaces in Hanoi, one where you’d feel a little bit wrong in being in during the day, unless you were setting up.
So there were three acts on the bill, Dee.F, Horacio Pollard, and Dan Henneberry + Brett Zweiman + Đào Anh Khánh.
Dee.F’s performance came with a disclaimer “sorry if it’s too subby”, which turned out to be wholly unnecessary. Although Dee.F’s set was primarily bass-driven, neither his nor any of the other sets were ear-shatteringly loud. He started with non-repetitive and very interesting bass loops, but somehow slowly seemed to slip into conforming to the same four-four rules after a while. There were some really interesting layerings of sounds, but all seemed to have the same sense of trajectory, a slow and intense development. That said, I’m really looking forward to developments of his music in the future, the sound world he’s exploring is really rich and varied.
Horacio Pollard was missing his mouth-mic, which adds a huge dimension to his set. Perhaps the noise wall which he subsequently produced was too much for the average HRC experimental music listener, but it was rich, varied, and powerful. It was surprising, and certainly not the average ‘noise artist’s set of white-brown-pink granular speckles. This was a huge mix of overdriven, schizophrenic, and constantly changing hardcore techno records played through a cement mixer, backwards and with intent. Sometimes it really felt like it was going to drop, but it was so intensely varied that it never needed to.
Dan Henneberry + Brett Zweiman + Đào Anh Khánh, a seemingly impromptu collaboration, but this is one that turned out very nicely indeed. Brett’s non conformist laptop ‘beats’ put through heavy delay, combined with quite a few other tricks, combined nicely with Dan’s guitar noodlings, loopings and fx-ing. Somehow they created this constantly shifting, strangely harmonic soundscape (I think it’s Dan’s chord progressions subtly hidden underneath) with which ĐAK’s movements and vocals then seemed to fit perfectly. It was, I hope, more than a happy coincidence, and I really hope they continue to do more together.
Plus Lizo’s visuals were stunning, beautifully complementing the sets. Somehow strangely surreal, and occasionally distractingmy attention from ĐAK’s contortions.
The Hanoi Soundwalk is coming very soon!
I’m organising an interactive audio tour of Hanoi, a sonic treat to whet your appetite for the hidden noises of a bustling city. This is the first of its kind (as far as I know) in Asia, and I’m proud to be hosting it in Hanoi. It’s part of the larger Locative Audio project, which this year runs in 11 cities worldwide.
The idea is simple, you don your headphones, connect to your smartphone, fire up the app and start walking. The sounds are activated by your position, so to hear more you have to travel further! We’re starting at the Nhà Thờ Lớn and finishing at Chờ Đông Xuân, so there’s plenty of history to discover, this part of town having been a bustling trade centre for at least a thousand years.
If you’re in Hanoi and want to participate, just head on over to the event registration page and fill in your details. I can’t stress enough how much you need a decent pair of headphones to get the full experience. If you don’t have any, head over to Ido to get some – some that cover your ears are best. Then you’ll need a smartphone that runs either Android or Apple iOS.
We’re holding a workshop on the 9th April, and the actual event will be on the 13th April, in collaboration with Hanoi Soundstuff Festival. Last but not least by any means, we’ve got a facebook page, where you can keep updated on our movements to your heart’s content.
I’m doing this in collaboration with Mathias Rossignol, Đinh Lê Vân and Trí Minh (organiser of the Hanoi Soundstuff Festival), thanks to them for their support of this project.
I’ve been doing some work on dissonance/roughness theory recently. I’m not yet ready to share the results, but it’s having some interesting, and surprising outcomes. I think it may have some knock-on effects for music theory in general as well as analysis, but of course I don’t want to overstep the mark until I have some concrete results.
Oh, and don’t draw any conclusions from the image, it’s mainly to make the post look prettier.
Who the Hell is Hank? by ESF
Winner of BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC – 48 Hour Film Project – Hanoi 2012
BEST DIRECTOR winner
BEST SCREENPLAY winner
BEST EDITING winner
BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC winner
BEST FILM RUNNER-UP winner
AUDIENCE AWARD winner
BEST TRAILER winner
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY nomination
BEST ART DESIGN nomination
So, I’ve shelved the Raspberry Pi project for the moment. Basically I have got to the point of finding that USB MIDI takes up too many CPU cycles for effective real-time synthesis. Continue reading
I saw an advert today for a new Synaptics touchpad/trackpad – the ForcePad. It combines a traditional trackpad with force-sensitivity. This isn’t new, in fact the Synaptics touchpads have come with force/pressure sensitivity for a long time. David Wessel from CNMAT has built an instrument around this capability, but it remains a one-off, custom-built instrument that is performed by its inventor (look under ‘Blogs’). Continue reading
For those who have been asking, I sourced my Raspberry Pi in Vietnam from Element 14. Their base in SE Asia is Singapore, but they have offices in HCMC and now in Hanoi. They stock everything you’ll need, and were only happy enough to respond to any requests. Drop them an email and they’ll put you in contact with the Hanoi/HCMC branch.
So I’ve been working on my Raspberry Pi-powered synth for a while now. It’s been quite hard going, but I can share some developments. Continue reading