Spin Systems in Spatial Audio - Kate Milligan, Matthew Woodham

Presented during the IRCAM Forum Workshops 2023 in Paris

This project aims to integrate spatial audio and live performance, conceiving of ambisonic sound as an electronic extension of women’s voices in a chamber setting. An interdisciplinary team of designers and musicians—led by Kate Milligan and Matthew Woodham—explore how naturally occurring spin systems, such as vortices and eddies, might be considered a compositional tool. Generative spin simulations are translated in real-time, and provide the framework within which the human voice is transformed.

This project considers how traditional compositional parameters (including texture, polyphony, and rhythm, amongst others) manifest in the generative, self-organising environment. The performer’s voices are transported away from the body and mingle fluidly in space. Experimental, iterative methodology is employed by the team to recast the role of ‘composer’ in a more-than-human environment.

Expanding on the theory of hydrofeminist scholar Astrida Neimanis, this project employs the “logics” of spin systems with implications for identity in performance. “We experience ourselves less as isolated entities and more as oceanic eddies: I am a singular, dynamic whorl dissolving in a complex, fluid circulation. The space between ourselves and our others is at once as distant as the primeval sea, yet also closer than our own skin” (Neimanis, Body of Water).

(JunoCam image taken during the 1st, 3rd, & 4th orbits of NASA's Juno spacecraft. Redistributed and unchanged under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License).