Selected Exhibitions / Performances / Presentations
2020 / 2021
For fairly obvious reasons this period didn’t follow the usual format of exhibitions / commissions / live performances. I stayed busy, working more deeply on the projects I did have on, taking on an intern for six months and starting a PhD, which will be come my full-time pursuit from September! Some detail below…
Mammoth Beat Organ performance at Tor Fest in Todmorden, after a week in the workshop developing and improving the beast!
Designed and built a hand-cranked musical contraption to roam Barrow Park and was commissioned to complete a Crazy Golf Hack golf hole that saw each hole of a pitch and putt course converted to a musical crazy gold hole. Highlights video.
Designed and built a sprawling, human-powered mechanical musical contraption for General Public. A cat posted a video of it, here.
Developed and hosted Supersonic Kids Gigs with Tirikilatops and Paddy Steer. The latter featured on Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone.
A series of deep listening Sonic Graffiti pieces created for Interfaces Festival in Leicester.
ORE gigs throughout the year.
Recorded at Maida Vale as part of an Alternative String Quartet for BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction session series. I designed and built a new musical instrument especially for this session.
I designed and delivered a daylong Material Sound symposium and workshop on musical instrument design, at the Horniman Museum.
I have been selected as a STEAMhouse artist for 2019, with full access to the maker space facilities and expertise.
I designed and led a number deep-listening sound walks and exhibited listening devices made from flood waste as part of The Ring, in Worcester.
Was selected to partake in the Music In The Making symposium at Horniman Museum, to help them shape the future of their musical instrument collection.
Created a pedal-powered musical instrument in collaboration with Sarah Kenchington for visitors to Barrow Park to play.
Major Arts Council England funded project to develop and build a new modular mechanical musical instrument, in collaboration with Graham Dunning. With support from Horniman Museum, Lintstock and Supersonic Festival, where we performed for the first time with our new contraption.
Selected to be part of the 2018 BOOM contingent. A wonderful artist development programme run by OCM.
Released an album with renowned Japanese sax player Ryoko Ono on Raw Tonk. Each piece features Ryoko on sax and me on a self-built musical instrument.
ORE has played at various events and festivals this year, including New River Studios, Flatpack, Double Dot Bash, Raw Power, Worcester Music Festival, Fort Process.
Participated in the Hack The Jazz Festival event, aimed at developing new programming strands. And delivered an updated version of my Sonic Vending Machines, featuring in the festival for the second year running. A handmade musical instrument in every capsule!.
I was selected as one of the Green Lungs artists for 2018 by Ampersand Projects. This involved sound walks and workshops to make listening devices aimed at engaging refugees and asylum seekers with the green spaces of Birmingham. I then produced work for an exhibition presented alongside that of the attendees.
Trio gig with Graham Dunning and Colin Webster at Union Chapel for Daylight Music.
A number of musical instrument making workshops across the year for Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Churches Conservation Trust, Foyles etc.
The new ORE album, Belatedly, was released on Box Records on 24th November. It has received significant critical acclaim from the likes of The Quietus, Louder Than War and Drowned in Sound. We played a set comprising pieces from the album at the album launch event, on the 1st December, hosted by Supersonic Festival.
My doom tuba project ORE was reincarnated as a live band to play BBC Radio 3’s Exposure programme in Birmingham, and in the woods at Supernormal Festival; with Beck Baker on horns and Thomas Stone on contrabassoon.
Design and delivery of a drop-in musical instrument making workshop, as part of Inside Out at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. Four instrument designs, to suit all ages and skill levels…
Ideas, project management and hosting of the Melt Banana Kids Gig as part of Supersonic Festival 2017. Including group activities, musical instrument design and dancing!
Commission to design and build 250 handmade musical instruments that would fit inside vending machines capsules, for purchase at the festival. I was responsible for the project concept, management and delivery…as well as checking and maintaining the machines on-site. Much fun!
I was commissioned to write an article on musical instrument building for the January edition of WIRE Magazine.
My artistic output in 2016 has been more sporadic than usual; affected both practically and emotionally by the death of my father in 2015. It has been a year of relatively few public appearances / artworks but much work and re-structuring behind-the-scenes.
After much planning and preparation, I downed tools towards the end of 2016 to work on a charity campaign I had devised – Dance How You Like. It raised over £400 for the nominated charity and served to promote tolerance. I wrote about why I took a break from making art to do this here.
I was invited by artist Graham Dunning to attend Fort Process festival as part of his Mechanical Laboratory of Antimatter. Due to the nautical nature of the setting, I decided to spend the day hand-making signalling horns. These were demonstrated in the evening and an impromptu group performance took place.
I was one of six artists in residence at this year’s Supernormal Festival. After an initial week-long residency, I worked with Sam Cook to form The Sam Sam Big Band. We performed a roaming live show and on the main stage as part of the festival, on our double-wheelbarrow musical instrument, the Barrow Pig. This also got airplay along with some of my field recordings taken as part of the residency on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction show.
Played a number of improvised live shows with the wonderful Graham Dunning and Colin Webster, including shows at Goldsmiths, Silver Road and Cafe OTO. Some of these shows were subsequently released via independent labels.
2015 was a year fraught with challenges. My father was ill and died, which led to a limited – but focused – output; including the two most significant pieces of public art I have ever delivered…
A MortonUnderwood residency, sound art installation and performance (for giant feedback pipes and tuba) as part of Sonica 2015. Plus a couple of performances of Pendulum Music for optical synthesisers and torches…
“The competing drones meet and harmonise, creating pulses and movement as well as viscous
walls of sound.”
The Quietus on MortonUnderwood’s CONTRA
“Refreshingly free of underpinning critical theory or concept – with a stated driving principal of
‘Bigger. Louder. Bassier’…an undulating soup of sub bass noise that speaks directly to your chest cavity.”
The Quietus on MortonUnderwood’s Octavism
A MortonUnderwood public sound art installation. An acoustic listening device where the audiecne could manipulate the stereo-field to alter their perception of the soundscape. Exhibition as part of Supersonic Festival / All Ears and Birmingham Made Me.
Check out the documentation video.
Slap Magazine featured my work – and a picture of me on the cover – in their June 2015 edition. Have a read.
We delivered three special If Wet events in 2015.
If Wet at Maker Faire featuring Graham Dunning and Paul Granjon.
If Wet #22 – John Doran’s “Jolly Lad” Tour featuring John Doran, Arabrot, Sarah Angliss and Josephine Dickinson.
If Wet at Three Choirs Festival featuring Lydia Kavina and Emily Prosser.
View project blog post.
View project blog post.
I designed and built two distinctive slap organs, or thongaphones, for Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham. One featured as part of a garden-based sound installation in a Birmingham school – the pipes collected water for the garden – and one portable two-player slap organ for workshops.
View project blog post.
A MortonUnderwood sound art project, featuring a Descent [collective noun] of mechanical woodpeckers. These were controllable by visitors to both venues and would peck the surfaces on which they were mounted, to reveal the sound within. A joint commission by Warwick Arts and Supersonic Festival.
Installed six Sonic Graffiti pieces and three Active Listening instructions around Cambridge, as a commission for the inaugural Monomania festival.
The five player line-up of ORE + tenor horn, cello and great highland bagpipes reforms for our performance as part of the Full of Noises residency at Cafe OTO.
ORE play at Intersect at Servant Jazz, Dalston, with a five player line-up including tenor horn, cello and great highland bagpipes – Review
…again, at their request, at the Rainbow Warehouse in Birmingham.
I provided the audio stimuli, listening equipment and guidance for a sonic photo walk, commissioned by photographer Pete Ashton.
Performed as part of an improvising ensemble, who met for the first time on stage, at the Town Hall in Birmingham – Info
Our new monthly event of sonic exploration, in my village hall (April 2013): If Wet
On Sunday the 14th April ORE featured in the Curiosity Shop section of the Cerys Matthews Show on BBC Radio 6 Music. We were interviewed and performed Sugar Man by Rodriguez live in the studio.
In April 2013, I was appointed (Sound) Artist in Residence at the Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham.
Delivered a workshop for Bad Timing at The Junction in Cambridge on Sonic Graffiti and Active Listening. Participants built a selection of microphones and then accompanied me on a Sonic Stroll – Info
Appeared alongside Tom Bugs, Leafcutter John and Kirsten Reynolds to discuss The Ways Of The Hacker – Info
A workshop for 12 students to explore electronics and each build a noise box synth – Blogged here
Delighted to support Anna Meredith at this Moshi Moshi night in London – Info
Delighted to be appointed Guest Composer status at EMS in Stockholm
Commission by composer Jonas Asplund to design, build and perform in Stockholm with our unique One Water instrument – Blogged here
Rainbow Warehouse, Birmingham – review
A day of supervised building and performances for people wishing to build their version of my Noise Box synth.
A great fun and well received talk about my Sonic Graffiti project and the concept of Active Listening – i.e. enjoying the sounds around you that you might otherwise filter out.
Read about the outcomes here.
An early circuit-bent phone-doll hybrid of mine was included in this toy exhibition.
Two early prototypes of our 12-string water instruments debut at BEAM Festival, powered by four sustainer transducers – further info.
A return visit to South Hill Park to run a workshop for people wishing to build their version of my Noise Box synth.
Second intensive music exploration workshop and concert, with 19 other musicians selected to be on the PRSF 2011-12 New Music Incubator Programme.
Sonic Graffiti piece installed in Birmingham as part of a collaboration with photographer Candice Smith. The piece was inspired by her work as part of the wonderful 48SHEET project. More information on the Sonic Graffiti micro-site.
A week of sonic exploration, recording and performances with contrabass clarinettist, Alex Sramek – who visited us from LA. We documented each day separately on the ORE blog.
I was the PRS Foundation “Guest of the Month” for October 2011.
Our drone doom tuba band debuts at Supersonic. Find out more about the project here.
An intensive weeklong music exploration workshop, with 19 other musicians selected to be on the PRSF 2011-12 New Music Incubator Programme.
Performance of Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music, for Optical Theremins & torches, at HANDS OFF! Theremin Symposium in Scarborough.
Organisation and running of a daylong sampling/looping workshop for kids to celebrate their amazing school radio station “Rocket Radio”
Organisation and running of a daylong circuit-bending and sampling/looping workshop for kids.
Audio recordings of the “dying breaths” of this soon to be demolished library.
Collaborative, international music workshop. My fifth to date.
www.mrunderwood.co.uk/creations/sonic-weekend-5-round-up (Images of Sonic Weekend 5)
A “Pecha Kucha” style presentation focusing on projects I plan to complete during my sabbatical.
Supporting Emeralds, Hare and Hounds, Birmingham
Theremin Day workshop and improvised group performance with KK Null.
A performance of Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music for Optical Theremin & torch.
Workshop and midi-octopus performance to introduce 2-7 year olds to avant-garde music, produced by Capsule.
Workshop to build a step-sequenced, modular, mechanical instrument. Followed by debut midi-octopus performance.
Afternoon workshop to build my Optical Theremins, followed by evening event and performances.
Whales EP Launch Party, Scruffy Murphy’s, Birmingham
Dirty Bristow Magazine Launch Party, The Edge, Birmingham
Bees are Strong, The Frog and Fiddle, Cheltenham
Presentation and midi-octopus performance.
Supersonic, The Custard Factory, Birmingham
Supporting Melt Banana, The Rainbow, Birmingham
Milk Kitchen (charity gig), The Victoria, Birmingham
Centrifuge 2nd Birthday, Gramaphone, London
White Noise Music Festival, The Rainbow, Birmingham
Lobotomy, Blueprint, Nottingham
The Centrifuge, Moog, Nottingham
The Centrifuge 1st Birthday, Blueprint, Nottingham
Debut at STFU, Forest Café, Edinburgh
Selected Musical Compositions / Releases
I have played guitar since the age of nine, including in a professional recording studio from age 14 – 18. I have since learned to play a variety of instruments. Most recently I started learning to play tuba. In 1999 I started to compose music using computers and electronics. I am now an accomplished studio producer. Here is a small selection of my recent compositions / releases.
2012 – Present
Co-director and co-founder of MortonUnderwood. Full time musician and sound artist.
April 2011 – July 2012
On sabbatical to concentrate on music / arts practice
2006 – April 2011
Co-director of design duo Stereographic
1999 – 2006
Technical director and co-founder of design agency Elektonika
1999 1st class BA (Hons) in Interactive Multimedia Communication
1995 A Level Photography
Full, clean driving license