Synthetica (Digital Audio)

Child of Tree – UKARIA24 2018 Photo Feature

UKARIA24 was held during the June long weekend (9 – 11 June) at the Ukaria Cultural Centre. The 2018 program was curated by German-French cellist Nicolas Altstaedt. John Cage‘s Child of Tree was the first work in the evening program on Saturday 10th June and it was performed by Adelaide-based musician Jamie Knight.

Cage’s work features plant materials as instruments. They are amplified using audio technology allowing one to listen closely to the flora that is often taken for granted.

This performance extended effortlessly into the picturesque surrounds of the venue. A large glass window allowed the audience to experience the natural environment within and beyond the venue.

This work reminds me of a quote from one of my favourite writers,

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

All images are copyright © 2018 Jennifer Trijo. All rights reserved.

UKARIA24 was inspired by Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival in Austria. Gidon Kremer was the founder of Lockenhaus and his appointed successor was cellist, Nicolas Altstaedt. Alstaedt was hand-picked by Ukaria’s founder Ulrike Klein and CEO Alison Beare to curate the 2018 program. Synthetica was entrusted with the task of mixing John Cage’s Child of Tree performed by musician Jamie Knight. Jakub spent many hours researching the most efficient way to amplify natural plant matter using a combination of standard membrane and contact microphones. He described his process as follows:

“Given a very specific brief that included contact microphones as the technology of choice to be used on the cacti, I set myself a task to build the microphones that would find their way to the final performance. Building any microphone is not necessarily a trivial task, and the high electrical impedance and a susceptibility to radio frequency (RF) noise of contact microphones, which rely on the piezoelectric effect, was something that I knew would play a large part in my preparation.

Ultimately, there were three designs that made it to the final post-prototype stage, one of which included a custom build of Alex Rice’s differential amplifier for high impedance piezoelectric transducers. A number of transducers were bought, but some were also salvaged, in true Synthetica style, from other machines including electric buzzers and old fire alarms. There was a lot of wire, a lot of insulation tape, a lot of soldering, and many, many failures.”

~ Jakub Gaudasinski

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