X for Y Hours. Reimagining Open Duration After the Internet
The American poet Craig Dworkin (2013), referring to media as physical objects (for example the compact disc), asserts that ‘(…) one can never locate a medium in isolation’ but always in relation to a network of other materials. The material carrier of music (CD, vinyl), needs to be played to actually hear the music, requiring not just a player but speakers (Dworkin, 2013). I propose that the location of music’s medium is no longer isolated to sonic materiality and perceiving the materiality of current music as being created with and for non-sonic mediums (concepts, physical objects, digital technologies), brings to focus the multitude of forms in which music exists after the Internet. However, questioning the fixed medium of musical works has only recently gained attention within contemporary music discourse. The ‘post-medium condition’ described by Krauss (1999), and discussed widely in the visual arts, is relatively absent within musicology. One could certainly see a correlation in this theorisation of art from the late 1960s to current attitudes and genres such as New Conceptualism and multimedia composition. Whilst writers such as Barrett (2016) and Kim-Cohen (2009) have analysed the development of sound art against the deformalisation of the artwork after conceptualism, the turning point for music’s break from medium specificity has seen less attention.
My practice-based research offers critical perspective on the changing medium of music to locate an expanded understanding of the form in which music exists, the means by which it is created, and how it is perceived, in the digital age. The practice output is built on thinking about, and conceptualising responses to, particular internet-born phenomena such as; the ever-presence of music in 24/7 live radio and ’10 hours of X’ videos on YouTube, the proliferation of mood and ambient-based playlists (Rekret, 2019, Hesmondhalgh, 2021), and the endlessness, excess and digital waste of the aesthetic and electronic music genre vaporwave. This has led to the creation of projects which centre on the following question: How does thinking in terms of ‘post-media’ impact experimental electronic and conceptual music? What does a post-medium condition mean for music’s ontological status and its separation from other art forms?
7Balcony (zach dawson and Richard Stenton) debut album (2021) [45 mins], supported by AHRC and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, distributed and managed by NMC Recordings
Dawson, Z., Stenton, R. (2017), ‘Forever Grey’ [a score with no beginning or end for any four musicians to perform in any space.] Avaliable at:
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – 12th Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, June 2022 – 20 minute paper, round table discussion
MTI2 Institute for Sonic Creativity Spring Research Seminar (De Montfort University, Leicester), 20 min. paper, May 2022
AHRC Executive Chair Institutional Visit at University of Birmingham – Poster Presentation Session, September 2021 – A1 Research Poster
Midlands Music Research Network (Midlands4Cities funded), October 2021 – 20 minute paper
Midlands4Cities Research Festival 2021 – Held online, June 2021 – 10 minute paper
MTI2 Institute for Sonic Creativity Spring Research Seminar (De Montfort University, Leicester), 20 min. paper, May 2021
Univeristy of Birmingham, School of Language, Cultures, Art, History, and Music – Lightening Talk, Jan 2021 – 10 minute paper
Other Research Interests
Experimental Music, Post-Internet, Form, Ontology
‘Piece X’ (2022), outdoor installation for 4 horn speakers (open duration, speakers mounted onto existing structure).
BEAST FEaST 2022, University of Birmingham (UK), June 2022
'Vertical Cities' (2021), notated electronic work for MIDI keyboard, analogue synthesizer, written for and performed by 7balcony.
- Two versions at Experimental Music Series 2021, Centrala Art Gallery, Birmingham, June 2021
'Virtual Concert' (2020), online mixed media performance-installation. Site-specific: Zoom Video Communications. https://youtu.be/1mOS4pr-ihM
- NIME Festival 2021 (Shanghai CN/Online), June 2021
- BEAST FEaST 2021: Recalibration (Online), April 2021- 'Further_In' (music streaming channel), January 2021 - Post-Paradise(23)//Zoom Edition, December 2020 'Forever Returning', (2020), instrumental and electroacoustic work for MIDI keyboard, electronics, soprano. Album release. https://youtu.be/97Qj_1hHcWgPerformances:- Post-Paradise Series at Eastside Projects, Birmingham, July 2019- Braided Sound (UK Tour), Centrala Art Gallery, Birmingham, April 2019, 'exclusive', (2019), instrumental composition for violin, synthesizer. EP release.http://zachdawsonmusic.bandcamp.com/album/exclusive
'Forever Grave' (2019), electronic work for solo synthesizer. Single release. Written for 7balcony.https://youtu.be/HHaqQ4olGgQPerformances: - Thinking/Not Thinking Festival, Centrala Art Gallery, Birmingham, March 2019- Portents Festival, Space Arts Centre, London, March 2019 - Birmingham Frontiers Festival, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, September 2018'St. Vitus' (2019), notated electronic work for field recordings, samples. Single release.https://zachdawsonmusic.bandcamp.com/track/st-vitusPerformances: - Ten Acres of Sound, Artefact, Stirchley, September 2020 - Thinking/Not Thinking Festival, Centrala Art Gallery, Birmingham, March 2019- Portents Festival, Space Arts Centre, London, March 2019 'higher plane^' (2018), notated electronic work for MIDI keyboard, analogue synthesizer. Written for 7balcony.https://youtu.be/9wyx_FhEuGoPerformances: - Ten Acres of Sound, Artefact, Stirchley, September 2020 - Post-Paradise Series at Eastside Projects, Birmingham, July 2019- Supersonic Festival, Custard Factory, Birmingham, June 2018- Ideas of Noise Festival, The Edge Gallery, Birmingham, August 2018- Birmingham Frontiers Festival, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, September 2018 'fadin' / dyin'' (2018), notated electronic work for MIDI keyboard, analogue synthesizer. Written for 7balcony. Debut EP release. https://youtu.be/PCe_XOXNil8Performances: - Ten Acres of Sound, Artefact, Stirchley, September 2020 - Post-Paradise Series at Eastside Projects, Birmingham, July 2019- Thinking/Not Thinking Festival, Centrala Art Gallery, Birmingham, March 2019- Portents Festival, Space Arts Centre, London, March 2019 - Supersonic Festival, Custard Factory, Birmingham, June 2018- Ideas of Noise Festival, The Edge Gallery, Birmingham, August 2018- Birmingham Frontiers Festival, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, September 2018'Forever Expansions' (2017), for livestream, samples, chamber ensemble. Commissioned by Ensemble Klang.https://youtu.be/BjKpaBmJLyERealisations and performances:- Gaudeamus Muziekweek (World premiere), TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht (NL), September 2017- Radio Punctum, Prague (CZ), version for four synthesisers. 'Forever Grey' (2017), score publication with no beginning or end for any four instruments in any space. Conceived with stenton.press (publishing house). https://youtu.be/nPNt6pHVglMRealisations and performances:- Book launch at Post-Paradise, Centrala Art Gallery, Birmingham, November 2017 - Birmingham Record Company and NMC Recordings partnership Launch, presented as performance-installation, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, May 2019
Masters in Composition
Thesis: FLUXUS: NON-AUTHORSHIP AND THE DESTRUCTION OF TRADITION
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (2012–2015)
BA (Hons) Music - Classical Music Performance
Leeds College of Music (2009–2012)
Hinrichsen Foundation – Post-Paradise Series Projects - 2017 – 2020
Arts Council England: National Lottery Project Grant – Post-Paradise Series: ‘Music in the Margin’ - 2018
RVW Trust – Post-Paradise Series Projects - 2017 – 2018
Arts Council England: Grants for the Arts – Post-Paradise Series: 'Season #2' - 2017
Orkest de Ereprijs – Commission Prize - 2016
Academic Writing Tutor in AWAS (Academic Writing Advisory Service) in the College of Arts and Law, Univeristy of Birmingham. Writing support for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.