Monthly Archives: May 2013

Day 29: Drawing on the Wallpaper: Sonic live-drawing workshop


Hear the results of a live-drawing improvisation by possible area and Frontroom curator Lisa Wilkens:

Sonic live-drawing uses sensitive contact mics to amplify the sounds of drawing and writing implements such as pens, pencils and sticks of charcoal as they move across the surface of the paper.  This technique was used to create the sound piece ‘Tick Every Box (In A Long and Repetitive Tradition)’ which forms part of ‘sole possession’.

This drop-in session set up a large piece of wallpaper and implements, introduced the technique and allowed people to play with it as they wanted, singly or collaboratively.

Everyone very quickly grasped how their drawing actions produced particular sounds and how to use time, speed, distance across the paper and rhythmic gestures as a very direct way to create sound or music.

In performing using this technique myself, audiences have often assumed that the visual end-product is the goal, rather than the artifact or residue of a sonic performance.  I was pleased that participants used drawing as a medium for creating sound without aiming for a particular visual outcome, even though no directions were given either way.

Visual artists attending also had some interesting reflections on the physical act of painting and drawing in their own practice, one confessing that they were often aware of their brush making sounds which might be overheard.  Another artist wondered whether a sound recording of their brushstrokes might act as a reminder of transient ideas during the painting process.

None of the participants had tried the technique before, and the majority had never made sound, noise or improv pieces.  It was interesting how the familiarity of the ‘instrumentation’ and the control they felt in using it to make different sounds evidently gave people the confidence to perform in a new medium as in the collaboration above.