Noise Orchestra are Manchester sound artists Vicky Clarke and David Birchall, we build Noise Machines that translate light into sound. Working with light, DIY electronics, turntables and graphical scores, our practice operates at the intersection of art, experimental music and technology, manifesting in performance, DIY instrument making, sound walks, workshops and installations; all inspired by the photo-phonic principles of synthesizing sound from light.
We’re passionate about DIY electronics and cultures of music technology and making; delivering workshops for beginners where participants ‘solder a noise machine’ and learn about circuit building, electronic components, signal flow and schematics followed by light and noise improvisation.
Noise Orchestra began as artists in residence at the National Media Museum, with our project ‘Play the Collections’ (part of Light Fantastic UNESCO Year of Light 2015) where we built Theremin circuits and graphical scores inspired by the archive collections of the nations’ photographic and cinematographic objects and images and performed these in a live light and sound show.
We are inspired by the radical spirit of the 1920s Russian avante garde artists including Arseny Avraamov the inventor of graphical sound and ultrachromatism and the noise machines of Evgeny Sholpo and Leon Theremin. In 2015 we undertook a research trip to Moscow to meet author of ‘Sound in Z’ Professor Andrey Smirnov, Director of the Theremin Centre and learn about these artists working at the dawn of synthesised/electronic music and imagining a future utopia after the Revolution.
We have since undertaken international art and tech residencies at STEIM Amsterdam, Q-02 Brussels and CTM Festival Berlin and have now taken our installation work into the public realm through soundwalks and interventions. ‘SWARM: Play the light of the city’ was commissioned by ENLIGHT: European Light Expression Network to develop our machines as portable light drone samplers. Citizens are given portable noise machines to navigate their city at night responding to architecture, urban acoustics and light infrastructure; reframing their relationship to their city in a moving drone orchestra. The piece premiered at Rome Media Art Festival 2018. Concept work was developed as artists in residence at Pervasive Media Studios and Fondazione Mondo Digitale, Rome. Our educational clients include BBC, V&A, The Whitworth, MIF and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.