For KA5, we were very kindly given a temporary home at Apiary Studios in Hackney. A few important updates were added at Apiary. First of all we decided that to keep costs down, and improve the construction/ deconstruction times, we would experiment with a reduced speaker count of 24 (instead of 32). This meant we could make do with a single soundcard (uTrack 24), which reduced the speaker rigging time significantly. Initial tests appeared to confirm that our new 24 (23 + sub) speaker configuration was more than adequate at this scale. As had become apparent when showcasing KA3, at our current scale, the structure was somewhat awkward to get in and out of, so we decided to cut a new set of ‘longs’ and use the previous ‘longs’ as our new ‘shorts’ to scale up the KA. Even though the diameter increase was fractional, its volume increased significantly. But, before we could build a larger KA, we needed to find a way to build an entrance to the KA. With the invaluable help of Ed’s friend and expert carpenter Nancy, we found a relatively straight-forward solution. Firstly, we added a five-point star of struts at the base of the KA to help the bottom pentagram keep its shape. The struts used needed to be cut slightly shorter to make them flush with the floor, but the result was a far more stable structure, and crucially, a much easier build. We then took out one of the HUBS joins, and folded the structure open. We added 2 vertical struts as doorposts, and wedged a fairly long strut between the bottom ends of both posts. By replacing a horizontal strut with a slightly longer one between the top ends of the posts, we were able to construct an entrance without compromising the integrity of the KA.
On the back of KA2 and KA3, a number of composers and sound designers had proposed to help create KA experiences. Not all these potential collaborators were based in London, so in order to allow artists to write for the KA, we had been on the lookout for ways to binaurally monitor the rig. Somewhat by chance, I had come across a free, open source plugin suite with lots of promise called SPARTA. SPARTA’s included binauralizer worked very well, and the integration with Reaper was seamless. This basically meant we had a share-able Reaper template that allowed anyone to make KA work away from the actual structure.
Rather spontaneously, Apiary’s owner Leslie suggested an impromptu Halloween jam while we were there, so this was an excellent opportunity to test drive our newly added entrance, and the new scaled down rig of 24 speakers. With very little time to produce any new work, let alone ask other contributors to do the same, I opted for an upmix of Stockhausen’s Stimmung, and a remix of his (rather haunting. Halloween-esque) Gesang Der Jünglinge. Notwithstanding the very short notice, I also really wanted to explore what was possible in terms of live performance, this was supposed to be a jam after all.
To drive the KA live, I found 2 eurorack joysticks that had XYZ capability, e.g. they could be used to pan sounds on the X and Y axis, but additionally had a rotating head that could be assigned to the Z axis. With these two controllers, and a CV to MIDI converter, I was able to use my normal live rig, which consists of a DSI Tempest drum machine, synth and sequencer. I assigned each of the Tempest’s 8 individual outs to a dedicated Reaper track, that could either be controlled by the 2 joysticks, or could be automated using LFOs. This setup allowed me to dynamically pan my live performance in real-time through the entire KA4 rig. As a first foray into using the KA for live performances, this set up worked beyond my expectations, and I decided it would become the starting point for the next live performance scheduled at Oxford Modern Art.