Joe Walker – BA (Hons) Architecture

“I intended on doing something for my research based on this unit, and I knew I wanted to try and do something involving music.

The music tracks that I made are linked to the lead up to the exhibition, and I feel that they are a key background to my work, how it relates to MAP 2014, and my units for the AUB Architecture degree. I have used a combination of methods, which include a focus on field recordings. I did a collaborative project with AUB and EESAB including funding by Interreg (ICR) called Extreme Territories, in July 2014, Brest, France, where we spent some time creating and working in abandoned buildings. I have written and recorded piano, guitar and electronic music as a result. These recordings have been made in a variety of places inclusive of within the 1500 seat concert hall playing the piano in the Lighthouse. I did this to build up a collection of textures and atmospheres (which are important in architecture); so some of the tracks are directly responding to materials, places and forms. Some of them have been recorded in the spaces, so there’s a relationship between analogue tracks and something digital I have made as an inspiration from something physical. It has been a challenge mixing the two!

I have also designed a unique musical instrument and it is based on a guitar, with the mechanics of a piano. So for a part of this time I have been studying instruments in an architectural manner and I try and do technical drawings of them. To understand how they work I pulled instruments apart and then made my own interpretations. It’s been an exciting challenge in how to materialise sound the whole way through.

We’re all visual people at the AUB, but in architecture even though a lot of people talk about music and architecture being quite closely linked, I think latterly people have also forgotten this connection. I’ve been trying to make a visual link towards the two the whole time, which has been a consistent challenge. Hopefully, something like this instrument can really reinforce it?

Post MAP 2014

The Haptic Music Machine, as the instrument has now been named, has been developed intellectually including a shared liking of the way the recording artist Nils Frahm creates music, and it was shortlisted in the first round in the prestigious Architecture section for the 2015 Royal Academy Summer Show, London.

Instrumentation and sound became an important informant for the design of a record production building, entitled Song as part of the final building project I designed for my degree. It allowed for further exploration of the interrelation between architecture and sound and the boundaries of how sound can physically apprise the arrangement of space is the prominent feature for its design. Song became an autobiographical representation of my work leading up to it.

I would like to continue working on the relationship between architecture and music: to explore it further, both academically and professionally. So far, the two have embellished and informed each other whereby one can make the other more coherent, meaningful and vibrant. There is also a certain amount of honesty when one creative form is based on another; they act as if a constant artistic cross-reference exists which I hope can be tested through new work in the future.”

…a room without echoes. I entered one at Harvard University several years ago and I heard two sounds, one high and one low…the high one was my nervous system in operation, the low one my blood in circulation.

Cage, J. (1968). Silence: Lectures and Writings. London: Marion Boyars. p.8.

>> Read an interview with Joe in experimental music magazine ATTN <<