IKTA – my involvement with this pioneering, creative, collaborative, experimental sound group

The coming weeks are hard work for artist and educator Victoria Trinder who is officially launching IKTA (which stands for I Keep Thinking About) the creative, collaborative experimental sound network she founded in 2012. Victoria has been busy all year while on her MA Fine Art course at Chelsea College of Art & Design where she has been exploring her sound art practice through collaborating with other creatives including designers, musicians, curators and technicians. Victoria will launch IKTA at a VIP party during the private view for the Chelsea College of Art & Design end of course show on 6th September. Below is an introductory film documentary, during which IKTA members including myself talk about the organisation.

Victoria has been building interactive sound objects, sound sculptures, listening posts and instruments to use in recording and manipulating sound ranging from an underwater microphone to a percussive mechanism housed inside an emptied food jar! Victoria uses traditional modes of composition together with experimental improvisation and she also hosts IKTA as an Internet Radio station that acts as a platform for emerging creative voices regardless of age, gender and cultural backgrounds.

IKTA manifesto

IKTA manifesto

IKTA frequently broadcasts experimental sound sessions online and IKTA is active across all the online social media platforms as well as Sound Cloud where tracks are posted for listeners around the world to comment on.

For the IKTA launch, Victoria has been working on creating a special VIP area on the Cookhouse building balcony which will only be accessible to people that IKTA has collaborated with over the past year. It is a celebration of the work of the organisation but the event will also become a performance piece itself, as the VIP party is watched by onlookers in the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground below at Chelsea College of Art & Design during the MA show private view.

IKTA launch for MA show private view at Chelsea College of Art & Design, on the Cookhouse building balcony

IKTA launch for MA show private view at Chelsea College of Art & Design, on the Cookhouse building balcony

There will be special sound performances and recordings being played on the night by IKTA members and throughout the show run and the lead up to it, the space will operate as an open creative, collaborative sound lab for sound experiments, recordings and rehearsals. Victoria has been preparing the area by doing everything from sewing together sails for a canopy in case of rain, putting together hanging baskets of flowers and even a red carpet!

I was lucky enough yesterday to host a live IKTA broadcast and live sound lab in my home where Victoria and I created a sound scape of the IKTA manifesto using saxophone, clarinet and our voices to interpret the text of the manifesto and you can listen to the results below.

I have found being involved in IKTA to be an extremely rewarding experience as IKTA has an open to all policy, meaning that anyone wherever they are based can be involved online or in person and there is no need for any traditional musical training or previous experience of working with experimental sound. IKTA members range from age 17 to those whose practice is based in spatial and technology design or musical education, but all these skills and different backgrounds are united to experiment with sounds together.

Victoria Trinder & Kate Ross during their IKTA live sound lab session

Victoria Trinder & Kate Ross during their IKTA live sound lab session

For me, in my own curatorial practice, I have always been fascinated by the alternative side of music, leading to sound art. So when I met Victoria and months later, when I became curator at Notting Hill Arts Club, I was thrilled to be able to invite IKTA to perform a live sound lab session at the launch of my multi arts series at the venue, which you can read about here.

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Although I am a classically trained singer, IKTA has allowed me to explore a different side to music making which is less rigid and prescribed. I was even convinced to play clarinet which I haven’t done for years and I have also tried experimenting with spoken word! Click here to see a Vine Video of me rediscovering my clarinet and its thanks to IKTA that I’ve started to use Vine too, which is a mobile app owned by Twitter that enables its users to create and post short video clips.

Here’s to the official launch of IKTA and its future!

Olympic Sounds – London 2012

Unsurprisingly, I am more interested in the Cultural Olympiad surrounding the London 2012 Olympic Games, although I have found myself being caught up in a bit of Olympic Games fever as London are hosting them! I’m pleased that sound art has played its part and here are a few examples that I’ve enjoyed.

All The Bells – Martin Creed

Artist Martin Creed (who won the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: the lights going on and off) created a nationwide sound piece for the morning of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Work No. 1197 involved ‘all the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes’ according to the website for All The Bells. I took part myself at the designated moment of 8.12am, ringing not a real bell as I couldn’t find one, but instead shaking my mobile phone as I had downloaded a mobile phone bell application which turned my phone into a ringing bell. I really liked the inclusive, celebratory nature of this mass performance piece so that All The Bells really did mean any bell, anyone, anywhere.

Hopefully not too many people were as extra enthusiastic as UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt whose bell fell apart as he was ringing it!


Tales From The Bridge – Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir

Eric Whitacre has become an extremely popular composer of contemporary classical music, particularly choral. Whitacre uses social media to build his huge and growing fanbase (which I include myself as part of) and his work became even more well known after a TED talk allowed him to discuss his Virtual Choir project. Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir brings together singers from across the world, virtually. Singers sign up on line and can rehearse the chosen score and join forums online to get tips for working on the piece for the virtual choir. Then when they are ready, singers sing along to Whitacre’s conductor video, recording their voice. The piece is then edited and visuals are also inserted to create a sound art piece. Virtual Choir 3 (below) which I sung in too, included 3746 videos from 73 countries. Again,what draws me to Whitacre’s Virtual Choir project is the way in which music and singing (thanks to the power of technology) is used to unite people as a common language across the world.

Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3 sound piece, Water Night, was seen and heard in Titanic Belfast: Following the celebrations around the opening of the new building and marking 100 years since the loss of Titanic, the projection of Virtual Choir 3 in the atrium of Titanic Belfast provided a moment of contemplation for the lost souls.

Currently, Water Night by Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3 can be experienced as part of the world’s largest 3D soundscape in an Olympics installation on Millennium Bridge, called Tales From The Bridge.

Here is an amateur video of the Water Night experience on Millennium Bridge, London from a Virtual Choir 3 participant.

Anthem – Scanner

I have been interested in the work that electronic musician Scanner (real name Robin Rimbaud) creates, for some time. He is called Scanner because of his use of cell phone and police scanners in live performance. I really enjoy the variety of types of music that Scanner makes and the range of opportunities he takes up.

The UK’s top designers and artists were invited to contribute to delivering a world class creative showcase that will play host to some of the most globally influential business leaders during the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games at the British Business Embassy. Scanner was commissioned for the only sound work in Lancaster House, on the Mall in central London which is used extensively for government hospitality.

Lancaster House, London where Scanner’s Anthem will be played

He presented Anthem, a sonic work that expands upon the British National Anthem, now a choral work of ten minutes duration and situated in the lavatories of the building, the only guaranteed room that every delegate and visitor will visit!

Anthem takes the UK National Anthem, God Save The Queen, into a slow moving choral work, filled with empty spaces.

You can hear Anthem by Scanner here

There was also plenty of sound and music featured in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games including favourite patriotic numbers by Elgar and a musical race through the decades of the best of British music. I thought the Isles of Wonder theme used by Danny Boyle made a fantastic opening ceremony spectacle. Here is a reminder of those beautifully musical lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

Finally, here’s a picture of my Olympic rings fairy cakes that I made!