Reactor blog

Reactor Halls E12: Ugly Weekender

Jan 22, 2015

Reactor Halls E12: Ugly Weekender
Dirty Electronics
Saturday 14 February, 19:00

£3 on the door

The first in a new season of Reactor Halls events. A 24-hour retreat exploring DIY electronics, sound and design will produce the content for this performance. With: John Richards, Alexandra Moon-Age, Jennifer Lucy Allan, Natalie Kay-Thatcher, John Fass, Jim Frize, Phillip Henderson, et al.

“The most difficult challenges for designers of electronic objects now lie not in technical and semiotic functionality, where optimal levels of performance are already attainable, but in the realms of metaphysics, poetry, and aesthetics …” Anthony Dunne, Hertzian Tales

Microprocessors and electronic circuits have become part of the very fabric of everyday life, omnipresent. Yet our relationship and understanding of ‘what is often keeping us alive’ becomes more intangible. Thousands of components populate devices in the palm of our hands or machines we have become reliant upon, and to most, these esoteric components exist unseen beneath a surface, silent and anonymous. Circuits of great complexity carry electrons to enact seeming miracles. And in these designs there is beauty in both form and function.

Dirty Electronics’ Ugly Weekender will take a macroscopic approach towards electronic circuits, playing-out the forms and exploring shapes and patterns latent in their design, and investigating how these circuits could lend themselves to a performance. A simple circuit based on a voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA) combined with a microprocessor will be used as a starting point for the work. A devised new performance will emerge through a ‘sleepless’ night and be performed the following day. The 24-hour ‘performance’ will be used as a catalyst to create a dynamic approach to live electronic sound and musical composition that explores a fluid methodology for working across different disciplines. A limited number of participants will be invited to join the artists in the creation of the work, and a special menu and banquet based on the ugly weekender theme will be prepared for the participants. Central to the Ugly Weekender will be the publication of a booklet containing essays, illustrations, sketches, diagrams, and muses by participating artists and guest writer Jennifer Lucy Allan.

The title Ugly Weekender derives from a DIY radio transmitter project that appeared in an article by Roger Hayward and Wes Hayward published in QST, a magazine for amateur radio enthusiasts, August 1981. Wes Hayward also used the term ugly construction to describe a method for creating DIY circuit boards that also includes Manhattan style and dead bugging techniques.

Participating artists:
John Richards
Alexandra Moon-Age
Natalie Kay-Thatcher
Jennifer Lucy Allan
Jim Frize
John Fass
Phillip Henderson
Small Food Bakery