Joshua Rivory

Composers potentially face unfamiliar problems when creating interactive musical experiences within immersive technological applications. As the uptake of virtual and mixed reality technologies increases and access to computer processing power becomes easier, more and more artists are exploring the creative possibilities of these technologies. This study aims to determine how the development of such projects impacts a composer’s established workflow and explores the consequent relationship between creative and technological processes. Furthermore, the creative outputs of such novel circumstances (and how audiences and composers perceive them) are unknown. In this context, the composer primarily works alone or in a small team (tackling the project's musical and technological components) and crucially requires the rapid acquisition and deployment of newly learnt skills.

Autoethnographic reflections explored the development process of two large-scale interactive works and one small-scale immersive composition. in.bloom explored the implications of interactive compositions in immersive physical spaces and, through structured and field observations, highlighted the audience’s behaviour throughout the experience. My reflection at this stage suggested an incongruency between artistic and technological measures of success, with the strict attempt to efficiently develop an effective application undermining the creative output. Subsequently, I abandoned rigorous development protocols and explored a more natural creative workflow in the second large-scale work, an inconsequential mess. This approach provides a neat comparison with the first experience and strengthens the finding that the goal-orientated mindset of technological development protocols does not guarantee artistic satisfaction. This work leans more on the musical work itself, rather than the behaviour of a user within, and musical analysis of a short walk-through provides an interesting insight into how, when letting the music take precedence, my compositional language returns to my musical roots: progressive rock.

Overall, our research suggests that creative practitioners benefit from leaning into their existing workflows and focusing less on goal-orientated measures. Despite immersive technology literature suggesting an elevated priority for development efficiency, application efficacy, and usability, achieving these goals may not deliver a satisfying musical composition (from the composer’s perspective). Furthermore, I found unforeseen technical gremlins within in.bloom, astoundingly, enhanced the aimed aesthetic goals. My research suggests that the relationship between human-computer interaction development and creative practice needs further investigation. Simply adding (or even relying on) human-computer interaction protocols to an existing creative workflow cannot guarantee the aesthetic fulfilment of a technologically adventurous artistic concept.

Joshua Rivory is a founding member of Capheus and The Biology of Plants. He is a composer, producer, and music technologist hell-bent on blending progressive rock and neo-classical genres. After winning a Queensland Music Award with The Biology of Plants for Long Black (Bong Llack), he researched composing interactive musical works with immersive technology. His goal is to extend traditional song-writing form to new mediums of musical experience while incorporating a love of complex time-signatures, infectious melodic hooks and chromatic harmonic progressions

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Research seminars are presented by current staff, higher degree research students and visiting academics. 

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