Put On Your Tin Foil Hats

This is part three of a three part project produced by Nathan Harmer (sound artist, musician, programmer, producer, performance artist and composer), the previous two parts were static compositions one stereo and one 5.1 surround.

This part is a live performance collaboration with Fae Harmer (mixed media artist, currently working with the medium of live visual editing) using live source material manipulated with various Max/MSP modules. The performance will be wholly improvised by the two collaborators using four Electro-magnetic pickups and a load of EMF producing consumer electronics.

“Building upon my interest for unwanted/unheard or inconsequential sound and after a lot of experimentation with contact and photo microphones I was looking for a new method of recording the world around us. I was introduced to using electro-magnetic pickups for recording sounds other than guitar strings. Specifically electro-magnetic and radio interference. I found the timbre of the sound produced by electronic equipment, wireless signals and our general atmosphere was quite jarring, oppressive, synthetic and somewhat immersive.

I had also been researching Electro-sensitivity and people who feel that they are allergic to Electro-magnetic fields(EMF) and generally, the modern world, although commonly disregarded as a simple case of hypochondria, these people genuinely feel that they are allergic. I wanted the performance to be quite light hearted in contrast to the two static pieces, to reflect the outsider perception of people who feel they are electro-sensetive preferring to exhibit in a small room surrounded by the consumer electronics that would produce the source material”.

You can hear the previous two pieces and more by Nathan Harmer at: http://soundcloud.com/milk-teeth

The piece was first performed at Goldsmiths University of London’s Electronic Music Studios for a project for Nathan Harmer’s Masters in Studio Composition.


All sound processing of the EMF source material is done in Max/MSP, the patch uses four inputs from the electro-magnetic pickups. The patch is mainly incorporated to create rhythm in the source material and to create quasi-compositional events that usually last approximately 30 seconds to a minute, using granulators, distance simulating modules, samplers, sequencers, echo, reverb and comb filtering effects.
The patch also confines the performance to a 10 minute duration by literally switching off the [dac] when it hits that time limit.

Yuval Gerstein
May 29 2011 | 3:38 pm

Great project ! Thanks for sharing it here. You should tour the world with this creative project.

Jun 03 2011 | 6:03 am

Hi, Good stuff, I love the Tin Foil Hats. I think I will use this idea further (if that’s ok)

Rik , London.

Jun 03 2011 | 6:13 am

Performance Art at its finest.

Jun 03 2011 | 9:48 am

Thanks for the lovely messages. What do you mean by ‘use this idea further’ Assassin?


Jun 03 2011 | 12:02 pm

Hi Nathan have you got a contact address.

Jun 03 2011 | 4:26 pm

Hi mate, drop me a line on ‘mu701nh(at)gold(dot)ac(dot)uk’

Thanks for the interest.


Jun 03 2011 | 4:26 pm

Make that ‘mu001nh(at)gold(dot)ac(dot)uk’!

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