Dedicated to the art of sound

A Victoria University of Wellington PhD student is creating waves around the world with a win in the 2015 Sonic Arts Award.

Rasping Music :: [installation] :: LUX 2014 from mHz on Vimeo.

Mo Zareei won first place in the Sound Art category of the international competition for his piece Rasping Music, based on a video entry of the work exhibited in the 2014 Wellington Lux festival.

Sonic Arts Award

The Sonic Arts Award is dedicated to the art of sound. It has four categories—Sound Art, Sonic Research, Soundscapes and Digital Art—which are judged by a panel of internationally-renowned artists.

Showcasing on an international stage

Mo is pursuing his PhD in Music, has won €1,000 and the possibility of travelling to Rome to showcase his work.

“It’s very exciting. It’s a big award for sound art, which is a relatively new field. It’s especially nice to be recognised by the judges as they’re quite well-known artists,” says Mo.

Inspired by Clapping Music

The piece was inspired by musician Steve Reich whose work Clapping Music has performers clap a simple rhythmic pattern which shifts out of sync to create complex rhythms. Instead of clapping, Mo uses his own invention called Rasper, a noise-generating instrument involving mechatronics and micro-controller programming.

Transforming—installation to performance

Rasping Music was originally composed as an installation piece, but it was also realised as a live performance at last year’s composers competition at the Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music (NZSM), which resulted in a shared third prize. I have written a paper on the piece which I’m presenting at a conference later this year,” he says.

Mo’s achievement extends on the success of the NZSM in Sonic Arts, with Dr Ted Apel having been awarded the 2013 Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts Prize in Sound Art.

Working with supervisors across the University

As part of his PhD, Mo is developing an ensemble of mechatronic sound sculptures, among which Rasper is the first instrument. He works in both Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science and the NZSM to carry out his research, supervised by Ajay Kapur, Professor Dale Carnegie and Dr Dugal McKinnon.

“I have three supervisors from three different fields helping me. It’s great to have the flexibility to work with them all,” says Mo.

Opportunities for collaboration

Mo is currently working on a new piece for this year’s Lux festival alongside Jim Murphy, a recent PhD graduate and teaching fellow at Victoria.