Surface Bursary 2011: James Bulley – Research Overview

During my Leverhulme Surface Bursary at LPT, I’m researching into the relationships between textiles, touch and sound. As my research progresses I’ll be writing a series of more detailed blog posts here, detailing my progress, but I thought that first, by way of an introduction, I’d give a brief overview of some of the areas I’ve been looking into.

I’ve been making, editing and will soon be collating a series of sound recordings in the local area, exploring the varied cultures of Brixton through Oral Histories and Soundscape, focusing around the fabric industries and the heritage of LPT. I hope to make available a series of sound walks through Brixton and an archive of soundings at the end of the process.

I’ve also been researching the history of those working with touch and sound this is framed within the recent work of Berit Greinke (2010 recipient of the LPT Surface Bursary Scheme), my previous work on Synaesthesia with OOXXOO, and my current parallel research into the drawn sound techniques of Daphne Oram.

Following on from this research and alongside it, I have been exploring ways to develop touch sensitive Braille materials that can generate complex musical patterns in real time.

I plan for the Braille to generate a real-time changing musical and field recording based soundtrack from the centimetre by centimetre movement of the fingers over the markings. The soundtrack will be composed and tied specifically to the meaning or sentiment of the text using algorithmic and generative compositional techniques weaving together studio recorded music and sound design.

It is my hope that this installation might accord braille-literate blind and visually impaired people an experience that is unique, whilst also serving to provide a platform for people who can’t read braille to learn and experience the medium.

Please feel free to comment with any thoughts on any of my posts – I’m particularly interested to hear of sound artists who utilise fabric and textiles as an intrinsic part of their practice and the exploration of haptic sensor technologies.

Links / Ongoing Research

A Study of Braille Reading: http://www.braille.org/papers/analys/analys.html

Braille Music: http://bit.ly/bYTHC4

Hapticity: http://hapticity.net/

Hyperbraille: http://www.hyperbraille.de/project/

Thimble: http://bit.ly/dPtwR0

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