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Oxford University’s EMPRES Collective and Modern Art Oxford present another evening exploring the boundaries between music, art and technology in the shape of the Art of Noises series. Taking over the galleries, the evening holds a series of innovative performances and installations.

Oxford-based producer and drummer Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani aka Despicable Zee will perform tracks from her 2019 E.P. Atigheh– عتیقه.  Tehrani describes her writing style as ‘stream of consciousness’, and it’s apparent that this release has been collaged together from many different notes, secrets, scraps and moments in time. Not only through the variety of samples, but also in the content, which poetically relates her father leaving Iran to her own feelings of loss in the present day.

Professor of e-Research at University of Oxford and Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute, David de Roure will present a talk and demonstration on pioneering 19th century computer programmer Ada Lovelace, entitled “numbers into note.” Her intriguing story reveals a brilliant mathematician who recognised even early on that computers might reach into our creative lives and one day generate music.

Members of the The Owl Project will be present to lead a public workshop and performance featuring a specially commissioned loom that is set up to interact and respond to the current MAO exhibition with Kiki Smith: I am a Wanderer.

The evening will see multiple works from the Oxford music and Ruskin school of art graduate and undergraduate community, including DPhil composer Jonathan Packham’s work on the score as space, to be explored by performers. Jon has been commissioned to produce a site specific piece by MAO using VR, that musical performers will respond to in a live performance.

View the schedule and official programme for the night here.

Modern Art Oxford is a charity. Please consider making a donation when booking this free event.

EMPRES (Electronic Music Practice RESearch group)

The University of Oxford’s Electronic Music Practice RESearch group (EMPRES) aims to promote and advance research and public dissemination in Electronic Music Practice at a national and international level. It does so by working with musicians, composers, producers, researchers and academics from a wide range of disciplines interested in electronic music, as well as other members of the music industry. It aims to function primarily as a framework to provide support for practice-based activities.

The group's approach to electronic music practice is broad and inclusive, incorporating areas such as electroacoustic music, sonic art, record production and popular music, performance with electronics, field recording, music for film and numerous other genres and styles. The definition of electronic music is a complex, much-discussed topic, and EMPRES defines the field broadly.

EMPRES exists to foster and support activity in this field within the University, and to encourage collaborations between partners from different parts of the institution, local external partners, other institutions, and the music industry.

Professor David De Roure

David De Roure is a computational musicologist who has turned from music analysis to creation, developing AI code and algorithmically enhanced instruments for composition and performance. He is a founding member of the RNCM Centre for Practice and Research in Science and Music. Since 2010 his research team in the Oxford e-Research Centre has worked on the 'transforming musicology' and 'fusing audio and semantic technologies' projects. David is also a Turing Fellow, conducting further research on music and AI at the Alan Turing Institute in London.

Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani

As a solo artist Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani works under the pseudonym Despicable Zee, creating wonky yet meditative lo-fi tunes, punctuated by biting rhythms. Now working with her own vocal and lyrical content, she layers melancholy, lazy melodies to shape a sound that sits somewhere between poetry and quiet rap. The songs are steeped in issues relating to identity, heritage, relationships and change – they sound like echoes of something, partially forgotten.  Zahra has been writing and performing for more than 15 years. As well as her own music Zahra works day-to-day as the director of Oxford’s Young Women’s Music Project which is an educational charity that provides free workshops for women aged 14-21.

At the end of 2017 she took part in a 50-Hour Livestream celebrating female, transgender, and non-binary artists, presented in partnership with Tom Tom Magazine and Moogfest, the livestream featured hour-long performances from artists around the world.

At the end of April 2018, Zahra was delighted to be selected by Brighter Sound as part of their Both Sides Now residency to join Stealing Sheep & 13 other drummers to create ‘Stealing Sheep’s Suffragette Tribute, a performance for Liverpool Sound City.  This toured Festival No. 6, End of the Road, and Head for the Hills and more.

Her E.P. Atigheh - عتیقه was released in February 2019 accompanied by a limited edition vignette documenting her Iranian fathers first year in Oxford back in 1979 along with stories, creative writing and a recipe. This collection of songs captures streams of Zahra’s consciousness.

Owl Project

Owl Project is an art collective formed by Simon Blackmore, Antony Hall and Steve Symons. They 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 70s synthesiser culture, DIY woodworking and current digital crafts, the resulting artwork is a quirky and intriguing critique of the allure and production of technology. Owl Project make a distinctive range of musical and sculptural instruments that question human interaction with computer interfaces and our increasing appetite for new and often disposable technologies.

Notable works include 2012 Cultural Olympiad commission ~Flow, a large-scale floating installation which sonified the flow and salinity of the River Tyne using a range of hand-crafted machines, and the iLog, commissioned by Crafts Council UK. They are based in Rogue studios, Manchester UK.

"Post Pansonic uppercase electronica" The Wire magazine, Nov, 2008

“The Owl Project are a wonderful combination of inventiveness, precision, lateral thinking and single-minded quirkiness” Tim Marlow, White Cube Gallery 2009

Jonathan Packham

Jonathan Packham is a composer, researcher and performer of contemporary music based in Oxford, UK. Currently studying for an AHRC-funded DPhil at the University of Oxford, his thesis focuses on “open” experimental works, space and the social. He also performs as DJ SALINGER, whose grime-tinged electronic productions have been featured on NTS Radio and Rinse FM, as well as a number of other stations across the UK and beyond. He is the co-curator (with Nicholas Moroz) of the EXPO Series for contemporary art and sound (