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Tim Shaw - Fields

Tim Shaw - Fields

A research project by Tim Shaw exploring new forms of sound art performance and spatialised sound, using personal mobile technology (smartphones, tablets and laptops) as a medium for sound diffusion.

FIELDS: Mobile Devices as a Medium for Sound Diffusion in Sound Art Performances

Fields was a research project exploring new forms of sound art performance and spatialised sound using personal mobile technology (principally smartphones, tablets and laptops) as a medium for sound diffusion. The project was developed by artist and performer Tim Shaw in collaboration with web developer and audio engineer Sébastian Piquemal. 

Fields provided an alternative method for sound diffusion and a new form of audience participation by using web-based software running on the mobile devices of audience members. In performance, Fields uses these mobile devices as a collective array of speakers which are controlled live by Shaw.

Fields is also the name of the open-source software system created to deliver these performances.

The software enables a range of sonic diffusions to occur within a new sound composition, unique to each performance.​ 

The project emerged from the artist’s motivation to explore how the prevalence of smartphones could be embraced as a practical system for sound diffusion, and the possibilities this might allow for new sonic environments and performer-audience dynamics.

Tim Shaw and Sébastien Piquemal - Fields in performance at the Mining Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 2016. Image by Ben Jeans Houghton.

As a system Fields is designed to be open to a variety of creative possibilities; this flexibility allowed the artist to continually expand and explore different applications of Fields with different commissions, audiences, and spaces.  

A key focus of the research process for Fields was to allow the technical development and sound art composition to be directly informed by each other – allowing Shaw to explore and exploit the technological potential of the system through the development of a specially-constructed composition. 

Fields continued to develop through performances and presentations; it has been disseminated in 29 performances around the world between 2014 and 2017. Fields has had a wide impact beyond its performances; its open-source software has been used by other performers, and its methodology cited in research in the field. 

Fields in performance at the Sight and Sound Festival, Eastern Bloc, Montreal, Canada on 28th September 2016. Image by Justin Desforges.
Tim Shaw - Fields