Doug Van Nort

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Doug Van Nort is Canada Research Chair in Digital Performance at York University, and an Assistant Professor cross-appointed between the departments of Computational Arts and Music. Van Nort is an artist, researcher, composer and performer.His work is concerned with distributed agency and sensorial immersion in technologically-mediated musical performance contexts. His research-creation activities engage with affective and visceral experiences of the sonic and haptic senses, with the complex and embodied nature of listening, and with improvisation as a social model for collective emergence. He creates works that integrate improvisation and collective performance with machine agents, interactive systems and experiences of telepresence. Van Nort regularly presents this work internationally, and recent projects have spanned telematic music compositions, a solar-powered and evolving environmental sound art piece for a remote pond (Fieldwork), interactive conducting/processing of his Electro-Acoustic Orchestra, autonomous machine composition/improvisation systems, interactive music composition for large-scale dance pieces (National Ballet School, EMPAC, York Dance Ensemble), soundscape composition for 2,500 year old Chinese bells (Smithsonian’s Freer-Sackler Gallery), and performative sonification of data streams (NASA’s Kepler mission). This work is informed by his background in mathematics, media arts, Deep Listening practice, music composition and performance, and draws upon disparate areas ranging from perceptual and cognitive science, electroacoustic music, systems theory, sound studies, AI/machine learning, signal processing and various forms of ritual.

As a performer specializing in truly improvised electroacoustic music, over the past decade Van Nort has developed his own digital systems for performance that assume a turntable-like, sculptural approach to shaping sound using his hands and voice. He often performs solo as well as with a wide array of artists across musical styles and artistic media. Ongoing collaborations include the trio Triple Point with Pauline Oliveros and Jonas Braasch as well as a duo with underground noise legend If, Bwana; he also participates as a member of the Composers Inside Electronics, founded by the late David Tudor. In recent years he has performed and recorded with dozens of artists including Francisco López, Stuart Dempster, Chris Chafe, Kathy Kennedy, Ben Miller, Alessandra Eramo, David Arner, Anne Bourne, Eric Leonardson, Judy Dunaway, Katherine Liberovskaya, Carver Audain, Paul Hession, Jefferson Pitcher, Jonathan Chen, and in Sarah Weaver-conducted ensembles alongside the likes of Gerry Hemingway, Min Xiao-Fen, Ray Anderson, Miya Masaoka, Franz Hackl, Mark Helias and Dave Taylor among many others. He has performed his work at a range of venues including the [SAT] and Casa del Popolo in Montreal, on WNUR in Chicago, Casa da Musica in Porto, Betong in Oslo, Cafe OTO in London, Skolska28 in Prague, Liebig12 and QuietCue in Berlin, The Red Room in Baltimore, Studio Soto in Boston, The Guelph Jazz Festival, Roulette, Harvestworks, the Flea Theatre, Socrates Sculpture Park, the New Museum, the Miller Theatre, Issue Project Room and the Stone in NYC, at Town Hall (NYC) on an ‘intonarumori’ as part of the Performa futurist biennial, at EMPAC in Troy, NY, at the International Conference on Auditory Display (ICAD), New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), as part of the legendary Phil Niblock-curated ‘festival with no fancy name’ at Experimental Intermedia, at the NYC electroacoustic music festival and many other festivals and events across the U.S. and Europe.

His creative/research work has been supported and recognized by disparate sources including the NY Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), the NY State Council for the Arts (NYSCA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the International Computer Music Association (ICMA).

Recordings of Van Nort’s music can be found on Deep Listening, Pogus, Zeromoon, MIT Press and Attenuation Circuit among other experimental music labels. In late 2014 a Triple Point 3-CD set, released on Pogus Productions, was produced (edited, mastered, graphic design) by Van Nort. It has drawn praise such as: “Electroacoustic improvisation has the potential to be a music of timbral complexity, of rapid shifts of sound colors within a multi-layered environment…Triple Point lives up to that potential, as would be expected from such a fine assembly of improvisers….Each has a distinctive voice, but the group’s sound is a genuinely collective, emergent object in its own right.” (Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News). In a scholarly vein, Van Nort’s writing has recently appeared in Organised Sound, the Computer Music Journal, the Leonardo Music Journal, Kybernetes and the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. He has also published in a variety of international conference proceedings, and was given the Best Paper Award at the 2010 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC). As a teacher, in recent years Van Nort has led workshops, seminars and courses that are designed towards enhancement of listening and creativity through a mixture of bodywork, breathing/sounding/listening exercises, and the use of analog/digital electronics as a shared medium for these collective experiences. These events leverage Van Nort’s experience of Deep Listening (certificate holder) and his life as a practitioner of electroacoustic composition/improvisation and sound-focused art/research.