AURA MACHINE: Machine Learning and Musique Concrete

A sound object has an aura, can a machine produce an aura?

This is the research site for Vicky Clarke’s artistic residency with NOVARS, Centre for Innovation in Sound at the University of Manchester exploring the relationship between the disciplines of machine learning and musique concrete with the question “How can concrete materials and neural networks project future sonic realities?” The residency is in collaboration with PRiSM (Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music) at the Royal Northern College of Music. This site will share process, experiments, research and reflections of working with neural networks (specifically PRiSMSamplerRNN) and musique concrete techniques, insights into listening and composition and the artwork and live shows produced from this research.

Is neural synthesis a new tool for musique concrete, and what does it mean for materiality and sampling traditions?

An aim of the project is to go someway to ‘demystify sonic AI’ for non-specialists, as such along the way Vicky will be seeking accessible ML tools in order to widen the field for those new to working with AI and music. Currently sonic machine learning requires specialist knowledge of coding in the command line, powerful computing resources and access to collaborators such as technologists or academic partners. In looking for new interfaces and approaches that are inclusive, we can open access to broader perspectives within this field, hopefully so more people can make music with these tools.

Vicky is part of UNSUPERVISED, the new Manchester based machine learning for music working group, a collaboration between NOVARS and PRiSM.

The residency is kindly supported by EASTN-DC (European Art Science Technology Network for Digital Creativity) and Arts Council England, and is part of a wider programme of work including the development of a series of sound sculptures, an AI music education project for young women in partnership with Brighter Sound and ‘Sleepstates’ a net art piece exploring machine addiction and algorithmic control (mentored by Studio Treble) featuring sounds from this research.

Why machine learning and musique concrete? Read about the critical framework for this research residency here…

A special thank you to NOVARS and PRiSM, Professor Ricardo ClimentDr Sam Salem and Dr Christopher Melen , Jodie Ratcliffe from Manchester Independents and my creative collaborators Sean Clarke live visuals and Ben Williams for photography.

“But the miracle of concrete music is that… things begin to speak by themselves, as if they were bringing a message from a world unknown to us and outside us”

Pierre Schaeffer, Notes on a Concrete Music

About me

Vicky Clarke is a sound and electronic media artist from Manchester, UK. Working with sound sculpture, DIY electronics and human-machine systems, she explores our relationship to technology through sonic materiality. Winner of the Oram Award 2020, she is currently artist in residence at NOVARS, University of Manchester exploring musique concrete and machine learning in collaboration with PRiSM, RNCM. The residency builds on her AI research trip to St Petersburg as selected artist for UK-RUSSIA Year of Music and her project ‘MATERIALITY’ exploring sound sculpture to interface the physical and digital, collaborating with the National Graphene Institute to create a conductive performance interface.

Her work has featured on ‘SONIC FUTURES: How technology is guiding electronic music’ documentary, British Council and FACT magazine and she has performed/exhibited with National Science & Media Museum, MUTEK and CTM. Vicky is part of AmplifyDAI, an international programme supporting the work of women artists in sound and digital arts in UK, Canada and Argentina with MUTEK, Somerset House Studios and British Council.

She is co-director of Noise Orchestra and promotes DIY music culture, demystifying tech and women in sound. Vicky is also the Associate Artist at FutureEverything. VISIT ARTIST WEBSITE

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