Live Art is a generic term that describes acts of individual or collaborative, innovative and explorative, performance practice. It can be undertaken in relation to one or more art forms. Dialogues is a series of experimental and experiential exchanges between the visual and audible arts. The discourse is through improvisation: a free-style creative act that exists in the moment, in the instincts and intuitions of the individual, and in the participants’ reciprocal response to each other’s activities. (It may, but need not have, an audience.) On this occasion, the conversation is through the mediums of drawing and sounding (that is, the act of perceiving and emitting, aurally). The exchange takes place within the ‘laboratory’ of the School of Art’s Project Room. It provides a controlled environment in which the collaborators can learn, invent, test concepts, devices, and methods, make trial of different models of practice, and record ideas. Two determinations govern the collaboration: action and consideration; (to make in order to understand and to understand what has been made).

The initial Dialogues workshop was conceived as an open-ended and explorative exchange between visual-art practice and sound-art practice in the presence of one another. The practitioners mimicked and mirrored each other’s actions upon their respective supports (white paper and white noise), creating marks and tone by obliterating the source of either reflected light or silence. Gradually, analogies and determinations were recognised and pursued. There were characteristics and activities common to both modes of instrumentality and their implementation. The noise made by the tapping of a pencil and sweep of an eraser or hand on or across the paper; the incremental accretion of marks upon marks, staccato gestures, smudges, scraping, and scratching found their correspondence in percussive noises, sound filtering and modulation, and sonic layering and looping, and vice versa. During the course of the workshop, properties and procedures such height and depth, pitch, tone, density, repetition, interval, layering, pattern, obscuration, form and space, quiet and loudness, smoothness and texture, positive and negative and active and passive form, and stillness and movement emerged as elements that comprised a common grammar for creative interplay.

Dialogues2 responds to several visual and aural observations arising from the first workshop. First, that the sound produced by the friction and movement of a pencil or stick of charcoal across the paper support is an overlooked (underheard) bi-product of the act of drawing: a sonic trace that is ordinarily ephemeral and undetermined. One of the aims of the second workshop is to concentrate on, and foreground, the sound of drawing and its permutations (sound as drawing, drawing with sound, and the drawing of sound), and to give it permanence through audio recording. The sound of drawings made by one practitioner will be captured by microphonic pencils (‘pencrophones’) and upon an ‘electro-acoustic drawing board’, passed through a series of analogue and digital sound filters (which will mutate, loop, and sustain the source) manipulated by another practitioner, and, thereafter, amplified. In so doing, visual drawing is conceived as, also, an aural and performative activity engaged by two participants (in this context, a PhD student and their supervisor). Secondly, the workshop examines the observation that the sound of drawing possesses an indeterminate pitch-melody which can be mapped onto a musical scale. The participants will deploy exercises that test the relationship between the pencil (here, conceived as a musical instrument), sound drawing, and free-form music, in cooperation with other types of musical instrumentation (in this context, a hybrid electric guitar).

Adam Blackburn: ‘Improvisation enjoys the curious distinction of being both the most widely practised of all musical activities and the least acknowledged and understood’, wrote the guitarist Derek Bailey. Ever since I recognised and embraced improvisation in my fine-art practice, my research has become increasingly focussed upon the process of spontaneous creation. In concentrating upon the discourse between image and sound, I have an opportunity to examine the act of drawing within a broader conceptual context.


Am-Tech multi grade steel wool: coarse, medium, and fine
Creatacolour Monolith HB, 2B
Cretacolour Graphite Stick 2B
Derwent Graphic Sketching Pencils H-B grades
Fabriano grade g/m2 120 & 200
Harris Taskmasters 5” masonry brush
Hilka Emery cloth sheets: coarse, medium, and fine
Maped putty rubber
Maxi Fit premium grade Brown Opp tape
Nastro Adesivo Scotch
Masking tape
Progresso woodless graphite sticks
Superbright all-purpose cloth

John Harvey: In the sciences, it’s common for PhD students, postdoctoral students, and their supervisors to work as a team on research projects, sometimes as co-equals. In the arts, we each tend to plough our own furrow. Dialogues provides a rare opportunity for the researcher and their supervisor to be yoked together and actively address the same questions, while teaching and learning from each other.


Apple Mac Book Pro Blackstar HT Dual overdrive pedal
Boomerang III Phrase Sampler and Side Car
Boss Chromatic Tuner TU-3
Boss FV-50H volume pedal
Bright Onion Pedals kill switch
Crimson RF Slim ‘Stealth’ electric guitar
D’addario strings
Digitech EX-7 Expression Factory
Digitech JamMan Solo Loop and Phrase Sampler
Digitech Whammy (Molton Midi modification)
Dugain, Dunlop, and V-Pick plectra
ElectroHarmonix Big Muff Pi distortion pedal
ElectroHarmonix Superego Synth Engine
Ernie Ball P06166 volume pedal
Focusrite Saffire Pro24 DSP
Gig-fx Mega Wah pedal
Gig-fx Pro Chop pedal
G-String Decimator pedal
Keeley Compressor pedal
Korg Kaos Pad 3 Dynamic Effects/Sampler
Korg Kaossilator Pro Dynamic Phrase Synthesizer
Korg Koas Pad Quad Dynamic Effects Processer
Lehle D-Loop switch
Moog EP-2 expression pedals
Moog MoogerFooger MF-101 Lowpass Filter pedal
Moog MoogerFooger MF-102 Ring Modulator pedal
Moog MoogerFooger MF-103 12-Stage Phaser pedal
Moog MoogerFooger MF-104Z Analog Delay pedal
Moog MoogerFooger MF-105M Midi MuRF pedal
Moog MoogerFooger MF-107 FreqBox pedal
Moog MoogerFooger MF-108M Cluster Flux pedal
MXR 10-Band graphic equalizer
Pedaltrain Pro board
PureTone cables
Roland CM-30 monitor amplifiers
SSSnake patches
Sundry additives
TC Electronics Corona Chorus pedal
TC Electronics Flashback Delay/Looper pedal
TC Electronics Nova Reverb pedal
Voodoo Lab Pedal Power Plus 2
Wampler Buffer pedals
Windsor & Newton brushes
WMD Geiger Counter bit crusher Zvex Fuzz factory

Sound recordings of Live Art: Dialogues2