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Keynote Talk: Cathy van Eck

Published onApr 28, 2022
Keynote Talk: Cathy van Eck

Silverstone 121, 10am, Friday 13th May, University of Sussex, Falmer

Why feedback? Some thoughts on why and when I use acoustic feedback in performances

When do I use acoustic feedback in my work and what is the compositional urgency of using it? This is the main question for this lecture, during which I explore my use of acoustic feedback in my piece Music Stands. Scored for two contact microphones, two small loudspeakers, and two music stands, this piece combines some of the basic elements necessary for a musical performance. Sonically, my use of acoustic feedback is often close to what could be achieved with synthesised sounds. But using acoustic feedback to create these sounds, rather than any kind of waveform generator, prompts me to compose and perform differently. I discuss how I use feedback as a sound-generating element in the piece, what role acoustic feedback plays in the formal decisions for this composition, and how feedback alters the character of the set-up for this piece. The construction and deconstruction of the instrumental aspects of the set-up instrument are essential for this. 

Cathy van Eck (1979 Belgium/Netherlands) is a composer, sound artist, and researcher in the arts. She focuses on composing relationships between everyday objects, human performers, and sound. Her artistic work includes performances with live-electronics and installations with sound objects which she often designs herself. She is interested in setting her gestures into relationships with sounds, mainly by electronic means. The result could be called “performative sound art”, since it combines elements from performance art, electronic music, and visual arts. Her work transcends genres and is presented at occasions as diverse as experimental or electronic music concerts, open air festivals, sound art gallery venues, digital art events, or performance art festivals. She is a member of iii (instrument inventors initiative), an artist run, community platform supporting new interdisciplinary practices linking performance, technology and the human senses.

Cathy has a permanent teaching position at the Department for Sound Arts of the University of the Arts in Bern, Switzerland. She is a regular guest lecturer at other art and music universities. In her PhD-research Between Air and Electricity (supervisors Richard Barrett, Marcel Cobussen and Frans de Ruiter; accepted in 2013 by the University of Leiden, The Netherlands), she investigated the use of microphones and loudspeakers as musical instruments. Her book Between Air and Electricity – Microphones and Loudspeakers as Musical Instruments has been published in 2017 and she writes regularly on 

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