From the Exquisite Dark

Co-composed with Josh Spear, Caitlin’s colleague from Bastard Assignments, From the Exquisite Dark was commissioned by Ensemble Garage, and the development of the electronics was supported by Cyborg Soloists.

From the Exquisite Dark is about transitioning from the real to the fake, it is about the aural deception that the technology here is practicing on the audience. At the start of the piece, the percussionist is playing objects made from an assortment of materials – chain, bottles, small nails and screws in a metal bucket, sandpaper. She improvises her way through these sounds, punctuating them with the sound of wood – an orchestral clapper, somewhat out of place among these mundane objects. Gradually, while the sounds do not change, she begins to interact with an assortment of toys which are part of the percussion setup – a plastic watering can takes on the sound of the glass bottle, pressing a switch lights up a doll suspended in its box triggering the static-like sound of sandpaper, swirling her hand on a plastic frisbee suspended like a cymbal generates the same sound as swirling her beater in the bucket of nails.

The following in-progress performance is by Yuka Ohta, during rehearsals for the Ensemble Garage and Bastard Assignments performance in Cologne, 19 August 2022.

The technology enabling these illusions is a Bela Mini nanocomputer with multichannel expansion, running a PureData patch written by Caitlin – the ‘Exquisite Engine’ – and connected to four contact microphones.

With thanks to Ensemble Garage, Goethe Institut, Cyborg Soloists, UKRI and Royal Holloway, University of London for their support to create this piece.