Who or what is Owl Project?
Owl Project is a collaborative group of artists consisting of Simon Blackmore, Antony Hall and Steve Symons. We work with wood and electronics to fuse sculpture and sound art, creating music-making machines, interfaces and objects which intermix pre-steam and digital technologies. Drawing on influences such as 70’s synthesiser culture, DIY woodworking and current digital crafts, the resulting artwork is a quirky and intriguing critique of the allure and production of technology.
Why did you want to get involved with FACTLab?
We have been talking to FACT about a series of music improvisation and instrument making for almost two years now and when FACT secured some funding from the PRSF for Music Foundation, the Lab seemed a perfect place to run the workshops alongside the Build Your Own exhibition.
Make Your Own Noise sounds like an invitation to get creative - what can people expect at the workshops?
The workshop is equally about playing and performing (in a small group) more than technical exchange. We want to open up possibilities for expression and to explore what happens when you improvise with other people. For us, technology is just a tool and it’s exciting to explore it in a social context; improvisation is a great conduit for this as it’s rooted in communication. Each week there will be a number of improvisation activities intermixed with actually building and playing with ‘stuff’. We have found that this not only makes the afternoon, like, 100 times more enjoyable but it also means that a wider range of people come and they get more out of the experience!
What kinds of tech will people get to play with?
Great things can come from simple and easy to obtain items, like solar cells, bike lights and contact mics. There will also be things like electromagnetic pick up coils and small hacked sampler systems around. We don’t know who will come or how many times they will return, but depending on the group there may be opportunity to build simple circuits. We’ll get ideas in between the workshops so will make/assemble/buy new toys as we progress to keep things fresh.
You're also running a workshop on 27 June where people can make their own iLog - what is this, and how does it work?
Yes this session is different and will actually involve basic soldering and woodworking to make a piece of art rather than making music!
The technology we use in the Make Your Own Noise workshops is the same as we use in the wooden handheld instruments (iLog) that Owl Project have exhibited and performed with throughout Europe over the last 10 years. We are always being asked if its possible to buy one of our instruments and we say “No! But you can come and make one for yourself”.
So an iLog is a musical instrument that is housed within a small wooden log. We have a range of these, and for the Make Your Own Noise workshop we will be making versions of the first iLog, the Photosynthesisor which turns fluctuations in light into sound. By the end of the day everyone will have their own boxed and officially certified beautiful iLog ready to play or exhibit at will.
What do you love most about making your own instruments using found objects and tech?
Playing them!! Well learning to play them…
Or maybe more exploring the cycle of exploring ways to make a sound, then thinking about how to turn that into an instrument. We like making our own tech as it helps us think about the awkwardness of technology.
Do people need any experience to attend?
No specific previous experience is required - the workshops are for everyone!
If you had the tools to make any instrument, what would it be?
Hahaha ….that’s not necessarily a good question to ask someone who has been known to spend 30 minutes onstage sawing, drilling and caressing a 2 foot chunk of wood!
Owl Project's Make Your Own Noise workshops will be taking place every 2 weeks at FACT, on 20 June, 4 July, 18 July, 1 August. Once you've attended a session, why not book your place on the iLog workshop - find out more here.
FACTLab and its' events are supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union and Connecting Cities