Kevan Atkins is a composer, sound artist, and engineer. His practice has grown out of an interest in the intersections between technology, stories, ideas, materials, and process, realised through diverse collaborations, new works and supporting work within the community.
Drawing on his theatrical background, his concert works are often centred around physicality and space, often leveraging the deformation of bodies and instruments, such as in Legionnaire (2014) for solo contrabass. His fixed-media works have been presented in across a variety of mediums including radio broadcast, digital distribution and installations, including the two-hour work, Band-Pass Love Poem presented at the artist-run festival, Love/City III: The PLANETARY in 2016. These works frequently draw on his software development and electronics background involving bespoke software and hardware.
Kevan carries this practice into his collaborations with a diverse range of performers and composers, drawing on his background to help them realise often unusual ideas that might be difficult or impossible with conventional, off-the-shelf means. His work within the music community also includes live concert recording, web development, building installations, teaching, curation, and organising events, including his work as production manager for the festival and academy Tilde New Music and Sound Art, in which he has been able to engage with many of his interests.
Composer website: kevanatkins.com
Earthquakes Behind Closed Doors, Piano and Live Electronics.
This work is among my earlier explorations with piano and electronics in a solo context with the performer in both roles. I believe that electronics, as a performance instrument, can be virtuosic, precise and expressive as much as any other instrument, rather than just being simple a go-button type interface. In this work, I have tried to limit the material for the live instrument and focus on the real-time expressive possibilities of the electronic processing. I’m looking to further extend these explorations in future into a series of fully-notated works for solo performers.
Featured in Keyboard Waves November 2016.
Gaze, for flute and guitar.
The piece draws on the psychoanalytical concept of the gaze, a state of anxiety that a subject develops upon the realisation that one can be seen by others and with that too, the loss of autonomy, particularly with women in contemporary Western culture. Its distillation into media and literature has become its apparatus through to castrate women by presenting them, as Mulvey puts it “(passive) raw material for the (active) male gaze”.
The Tuscan ballads from the 14th century from Landini’s Ballata particularly strike me immediately as an early example of the male gaze passivating its female subject in this body of work, in this case quite aggressively. This piece is my tongue-in-cheek response, consisting of two sections. The first using material generated from a cipher of an English translation of Landini’s Non dò la colp’ a te, the second as a response, from a poem by Reddit user Poem for your Sprog. The ciphers were then divided at each word boundary and each word treated as its own pitch set.
Although the processes are similar in both sections, I tried to distort the materials to contrast the two sections and also match them better to the character of the underlying text. The first section, a distorted, lyrical send up of the ballad prolonging moments diatonicism and sparse phrasing; the second section, a loud, percussive, and callous.
Featured in BIFEM Waves – August 2017.
Int Rf.renCe, for Fixed media electronics.
This piece is part protest piece and part ode to the unique aesthetics and idiosyncrasies of the virtualised, digital hyperreality that we inhabit as contemporary subjects. The work is largely based on a recording of John Perry Barlow reading “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”. The speech exists almost in its entirety in this piece and yet none of it is decipherable. The speech recording underwent a number of different processes to fragment the material and reorganise it, in effect censoring the speech through fragmentation, distortion and layering.
Featured in Fragile Waves, June 2018