A five-day residential workshop in the epic French Pyrenees, led by Visible Cloaks and Yoshio Ojima
Workshop dates: 25/10/2023 – 2023-10-30
Over a decade of working within many modes of listening, Visible Cloaks have developed a practice that makes use of an ever-evolving set of creative strategies for working outside of the standard confines of composing, improvising or “generating” music. Through both collaboration and curation, a number of projects have drawn them into the orbit of a constellation of musicians from Japan who arose in the fertile “bubble” era of the 1980s, striking up a friendship and correspondence with Yoshio Ojima (who they recorded the album “Serenitatem”, along with Satsuki Shibano).
With Spencer and Ryan on-site, and Yoshio Ojima joining us from Japan via video call, this workshop will feature a number of these creative strategies for composing “beyond the self” and approaching the creation of sound as emergence, with a presentation of both their historical underpinnings and possibilities as vectors toward the future. This will include a discussion of the history of these conceptual ideas as well as specific technical work for “non-deterministic” audio systems within the workspaces like TidalCycles, Wotja and Ableton Live (although prior experience with these systems is by no means a prerequisite).
There will be a specific focus on kankyo ongaku (environmental music), not just a deep historical overview (based on long-running research and direct collaboration with some of the genre’s key practitioners), but also an exploration into its contemporary resonance as a tool for working around the entrapments of overworn “ambient” background listening modes and standard dynamics of artist-to-audience engagement, seen from both the composer and listener perspective. The Pyrenees landscape of CAMP’s locale will be used as a jumping-off point for discussion of “environmental” listening and how soundscape research in Western academia echoed eastward and helped to form kankyo ongaku as a framework for both sound art and corporate acoustic design in bubble-era Tokyo.
The manipulation of recordings made within this landscape will also be used as a jumping-off point to work with a long-running theme in their practice – the imaginary boundary between the real and virtual, through an investigation into post-production techniques using binaural and spatial audio for the construction of hyper-real space in a multitude of listening environments.
Visible Cloaks are two musicians working in the space between composition and sound design, arrangement and environment, and place and non-place. Their music has taken many forms: site-specific multi-channel pieces, live A/V performances, compositions for aleatoric chamber ensembles, albums, EPs, film scores, VGM composing, corporate sound design, collaborations with musicians like Miyako Koda, Motion Graphics, Seungmin Cha, Yoshio Ojima and Satsuki Shibano, and music for installations by artists like Brenna Murphy, Mike Tyka and Nile Koetting. Both live and in the studio, their work focuses on the artifice of digital representation, utopian flashes seen in cultural exchange, the cartography of virtual worlds and the extension of abandoned vectors of futurism into the present.
Spencer Doran is a composer, sound designer and researcher working across the disparate-but-adjacent fields of abstract electronic music, game audio design and environmental music studies. As half of Visible Cloaks, the “humanely futuristic” duo with Ryan Carlile, Doran co-helmed albums such as Reassemblage (2017), Lex (2017) and, in collaboration with Yoshio Ojima and Satsuki Shibano, Serenitatem (2019), developing a form of amorphous, omnidirectional digital composition intended to be appreciated in both active and passive listening space. As a researcher, he co-runs the Empire of Signs imprint with Maxwell August Croy (known for reigniting global interest in environmental music pioneers like Hiroshi Yoshimura) and compiled/annotated the compilation Kankyo Ongaku for Light in the Attic Records. 2023 saw the arrival of his audio direction and interactive score for the Playstation 5 title SEASON: A Letter to the Future. His work as both composer and researcher deals with concepts like human/digital hybridity, environmental sound design, east/west feedback loops of artistic influence and the glistening sheen of the hyperreal.
Composer and sound designer Yoshio Ojima has been in pursuit of creating his own distinctive style of ambient music and environmental sounds since the 1980s. As a composer, he is responsible for some of the most celebrated works of the kankyo ongaku movement – his albums Une Collection Des Chainons I & II remain classics of that era, and his collaborations with Satsuki Shibano (“Belle de nuit”, “Caresse” and “Music for Element”) continue to develop the form. He is also a sound designer who has participated in the development of sound systems for many renowned public facilities in Japan such as Spiral (Wacoal Art Center), Living Design Center Ozone, Tokyo Opera City Galleria, etc.