Fictive Music//Reality Regret is a virtual gallery exhibition and online residency by students of the Electronic and Produced Music department at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with IKLECTIK ArtLab. The residency took place over the course of several remote workshops focused on the themes of world building, unreality, and escapism, especially as discussed in Nick Scavo’s essay Against Worldbuilding and Wallace Stevens’ poem To The One Of Fictive Music, but also spent time on discussions of modern magical thinking, the CIA’s insidious appreciation of jazz, and how artists can critically engage with post-modern systems of power. The gallery exhibition collects some of the refined output from these workshops and presents it as a simulation of space exploration, wherein audience members are invited to spend time in the orbit of various planets in a system of “built worlds.”
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Considering the creation of a fictive world begs the examination of the world we really inhabit. Dynamic and highly personal, "real" worlds are entirely dependent on the physical, social, emotional, and cultural spaces we inhabit. “Sounds that Gave Me a Migraine” is a compilation of sounds that exist in many people's respective worlds without demanding attention or eliciting any conscious reaction. Chosen for their innocuous utility, they may be at most a momentary nuisance or grating point of focus. Through the lens of a world with chronic migraine, these sounds become antagonists. Their sibilant sonority and persistence demand physical and emotional responses – the physical sensations of a migraine prodrome and the anticipatory trepidation that accompanies. "Sounds that Gave Me a Migraine" couples the projected experience of a migraineur with the implied resignation that these sounds are both the consequences and results of living in this fictive world. Much like many lived worlds, "Sounds that Gave Me a Migraine" still has laundry to start, presents to wrap, and dishes to clean. These sounds, and experiences by extension, come at a fictive cost.
‘On the one hand, players actualize a narrative and its meaning; on the other hand, they actualize their own identities.’ Nicolle Lamerichs: Stranger Than Fiction
This short piece is an exploration of how fan ‘art,’ such as cosplay and cover music, situate themselves within the real world, reacting to and evolving with a fictional world in a cycle of mutually influential simulacra. Fan art focuses not on building a world from scratch but on rebuilding an existing world as a way of constructing one’s identity, using the fandom’s shared understanding of the source as a point of departure.
The 8-channel piece was created using MIDI transcriptions of ‘Cornelia Castle’, a theme by Nobuo Uematsu from the original Final Fantasy game. I worked with the harmonic and melodic material as intuitively as possible, leaning into my personal aesthetic preferences and emotional experiences of the game series to produce what is hopefully an honest and reflective example of how materials from any given fictional world are deconstructed and reassembled into unique, personalised accessories that make up a fandom.
1. a world constructed of many smaller and larger worlds; a world with a single spatial and temporal location but consisting of many (or possible or alternate) locations and times
2. a viewer, a camera; a venn diagram mapping infinite axes
3. you are not a coherent linear story, but a series of disconnected ones
Our world, on a metanalytical level, can appear to exist of a series of fractal worlds existing beneath it. In this view of reality, at which level (if any) was the world actually built? Is worldbuilding only present at the conscious stage, and then imposed upon lower stages, or is it a product of naturally organised reality?
Reality: Background reality. The fact that ‘there is’. Dimensions of our perceived universe. Smallest possible object.
Spacetime: Dimensions of our perceived universe.
Atom: Smallest possible object.
Chemical: Lowest form of complex function.
Biological: Living network of function.
Human: Single unit of aware complex function.
Societal: Aware network of complex function.
Conscious: Observant, truly aware of function, but outside of it.
In some of our earlier discussions on world-building, we asked ‘What are you listening to in the world?’ which led us to question what constitutes as real or fake in any given world, and how can we tell what is real? This got me interested in AI generated music; in most cases it is obvious you’re listening to something that was not created by a human, so how could I obfuscate the difference between real and fake even further? After listening to various examples from OpenAI’s generative neural network JukeBox, I downloaded the original instrumental and vocal acapella audio from John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and made several versions of the song in which I attempt to make it sound as if it’s been generated by an AI such as JukeBox.
To make use of the 8 channel speaker system, I have created 4 separate versions of the vocal acapella and 4 versions of the instrumental, all of which have been processed differently to imitate the neural network. As the satellites spin around the world, the audience hears different combinations of vocals and instrumentals fading into each other, creating a constantly shifting and unpredictable version of the song. The visual accompaniment is a series of images and videos that run with the theme of real and fake, including a series of AI generated faces from the website thispersondoesnotexist.com and works from hyperreal sculpture artist Patricia Piccinini.
You check your bottle but it looks like you were right, you ran out of water a few hours ago and you’re starting to feel pretty strange but you carry on walking because you’re pretty sure you saw some kind of village or maybe a pool of water up ahead and as you keep walking you start to forget which direction you were heading in was the sun always on that side? Has it really been almost a day since you ran out of water? You’ve got a headache but it’s not bothering you too much, it’s kind of nice to look up at the sun, it makes a change from all these endless mounds of sand and anyway why is it that they always tell you not to look up at the sun it feels so nice on your eyes and warm too and it’s almost like having a bath and you’re pretty sure it was a few hours ago that you drank your last bit of water even so you check your bottle but it looks like you were right, you ran out of water a few hours ago and you’re starting to feel pretty strange but you carry on walking because you’re pretty sure you saw some kind of village or a pool of water up ahead and as you keep walking you start to forget which direction you were heading in was the sun always on that side? Has it really been almost a day since you ran out of water?
This piece blends two different soundworlds that both fit around the same repeated bell like pattern. At first, the soundworld is a sort of hellscape with distorted and crushed sounds. Throughout this first section the bells stay consistent and underpin the piece. As the soundscape gets busier and busier with unearthly sounds the sound world begins to evolve. Slowly it transforms into a nostalgic and melancholic computer orchestra. This section still is accompanied by the unchanging bells which now feel far less ominous and more comforting. The orchestra is not necessarily a conventional sounding orchestra, the sounds are still crumbled, broken and imperfect.
The video shows footage of a fire burning in a video game home. It is an extract from a ten hour video of a Skyrim fireplace. It was important to have fake fire, from a fake fireplace as this world is very much based in technology and is wholly unnatural, given there are no sounds from the real world anywhere within the music. Fire can be both linked with chaos and anarchy, dystopian worlds and general destruction, but also with comfort, warmth and security, and therefore it felt like a right choice as that is the strong themes of both sections.
This piece was largely inspired by a session we had on creating collage-based work. In which I displayed a collection of 1997 runway looks, accompanied by Tubthumping by Chumbawamba. What interested me here was, limiting the ‘world building’ to a very focused referential pallet, and within that, accepting the rules that have been set and not trying to actively break them (something that is a constant in a lot of my other procedures). Although in the grand scheme of choice, fashion and popular music from a specific annual frame, may seem restricted. the possibility of new relationships within this are still seemingly exponential, however now they are inward from the frame rather than constantly looking outward towards new horizons. Presenting opportunities for new ‘worlds’ to exist that would have not been apparent if it wasn’t for the initial restrictions.
This piece follows similar rules to the work produced in this session but is explored further, similarly here there are a collection of 1997 runway looks also accompanied by sounds from the same year. The sound piece itself is a culmination of a few ‘HITS’ from the same year warped and curated into a hit itself.
It's time we finally get to the bottom of one of the world's most urgent quandaries: Who's the hottest billionaire in town, Musk or Bezos? Who will take us onboard their beautiful ship and show us the world as they'd like to see it? Who is the best at having money and building rockets? And most importantly of all, who has the biggest...you know ;)
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