DECIMATION in A-flat and F-minor

Dan Shipsides (Artist), Beggs Neal (Artist)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition

38 Downloads (Pure)


Shipsides and Beggs’ (SBP) audio-based research exploring the overlay and merging between topographical and the psychological poetics within the historic and geographic context of mountain warfare in the Italian Dolomites, where the precipitous, sublime terrain was a precariously strategic and brutal war front throughout WW1. Linked to this, Decimation was a terrifying policy of the Italian Military in WW1, where one in ten soldiers were randomly executed if anyone in that section was thought guilty of cowardice. These factors set the haunting context that the research sought to engage with a methodological sensibility. Drawing from experiential research of mountaineering fieldwork, the research developed a new experimental methodology in taking the elevation data of the 1916 Italian/Austro-Hungarian mountain frontier, transcoding it into midi and then composing it into a musical partition/score. The research process then used and developed open-source software Pure-Data to construct a complex system to transform the data into a topographical sound-art piece. The process of constructing the complex Pure-Data patch system is a key part of the research process which then facilitates the audio to be transcribed into sheet music as a further outcome. Musical terms, with warfare relevance, such as ‘attack’, ‘velocity’ and ‘sustain’ were incorporated into the system to allow each data point to be minutely compositionally modulated to encode a human quality to the audio music. Configured for two pianos playing in keys A-flat and F-minor the work takes on a haunting musical form. An early research phase, Decimation in D, was presented live within the Venice Biennale collateral events at Microclima (The Iron Way, 2017). The final stage, a hand-cut vinyl record edition, was commissioned within a solo exhibition (La Cuisine, France, 2018) which also included: live-recital (developed with professional classical pianist Scotton-Goulard), artist performance/conference (The Anarchy Tree), online audio artwork and podcast/radio broadcast.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLa Cuisine Centre d'art et design, France
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 16 Jun 2018


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