about the artist

The artist raw nerve noise (John Samuel Greenwood) is a composer, performer, media artist, researcher and educator practicing in Limerick Ireland. He is a founding member of ISSTA (Irish Sound Science Technology Association), SpADE (Spatial Auditory Design Environment) at University Limerick and former Chairman of PLAN (Professional Limerick Artists Network). He recently received the National City of Culture 2014 Music Legacy Grant Award for the project entitled ‘Sound Out & The Pigtown Fling’ – of which he was Artistic Director. In his academic career he lectures on the Music Technology and Video & Sound Technology programs and is recently involved in the new research centre for Game Technology & Interactive Systems at Limerick Institute of Technology.

His audio work extends a multitude of mediums and expands approaches in design, composition and performance of sonic art. His acousmatic works and electroacoustic compositions for Theatre and Dance have been presented both nationally and internationally and have been particularly noted in the cultivation of a longstanding collaboration with London based artist/choreographer Mark Carberry. Notable works include: Palimpsest 2014 – commissioned by City of Culture 2014 – a three way Audiovisual/Dance collaboration with visual artist John Galvin and choreographer Mark Carberry. The Machines are Self Aware 2014 as part of Limerick Encounters, Famine Blue 2013 – Conroy Hall London, Urvogel (2010) – presented at Contemporary Music Ireland – New Music Marathon in 2010 and at the MUTIOC (Music Under The Influence Of Computers) Visions Festival in San Diego 2011, Python in a Toy Box (2009) premiered at Soundings in association with the CCMCM.  Knot (2007) in association with Quantum Physicist Alexis Clancy and the Frame Makers Association, “Sometimes Seamless Members”(2007), Famine Blue (2008/13) and On Call (2010) at Daghdha’s Gravity and Grace Festivals in the corresponding years. In 2008, an eight-month process bursary was received to develop work with celebrated artist Wendy Houston. This was the highest commission awarded by Dance Ireland that year.

He is an independent researcher and an aficionado in all aspects of sound. His research which has developed from a long engagement with electronic music production and an affinity with non-musical expressive forms focuses on the role of narrative through gesture in the compositional process. Since 2006 his compositional practice employed gesture in both a physical and metaphorical manner, manifesting itself clearly in both his acousmatic works and his works for dance. Building on these experiences, his PhD explored the compositional possibilities of physicality through gesture as a core aspect of communication in music and in particular his own sonic art. His Ph.D describes a compositional process that is homogeneous to LaMothe’s four modes of organising experience: corporeal-contiguous, taxonomic-object, symbolic-subjective and narrative-communal (LaMothe 2005). It begins with the composer’s subjective experience of hearing, rooted in the relationship of a particular human body to its physical neighbourhood (LaMothe’s corporeal-contiguous modes). The human body is used as a benchmark for measuring and apprehending the world (Benthall and Polhemus 1975). The thinking body conceptualises the claim that sensation, motor functions and cognition are distributed functions of the body, in a complex interrelationship with the mind (Baily 2006). Our embodied knowledge of proprioceptive and motor activities act as constraints on interpreting music.

In his work sonic objects (LaMothe’s taxonomic-object modes) are interpreted as gestural sonic tokens, these being the smallest meaningful units of gestural information in a sound sequence. These act as signs from which metaphor can be derived, based on the composers interpretations of the meaning of the gestural sonic tokens in the context of the composition (LaMothe’s symbolic-subjective modes). This process creates a ‘sonic signscape’, a sign system in which the signifier is the gestural sonic token and the signified is the imagined sound source. When used by the composer as foretokens, such signifiers build sequential structured relationships that form a sonic narrative. In this research the term ‘sonarrative’ is used to describe such a sonic account of contiguous and contrapuntal events that create a coherent whole – a composition. The creative process incorporates physicality, sign, metaphor and narrative to organise a meaningful sonic experience for the listener by way of sonarratives (LaMothe’s narrative-communal modes).

In order to ground this theoretical framework, the concepts are applied to a body of compositional work completed by this author between 2009 and 2011. Both the complete thesis and the examples can be found on this website. His PhD was supervised by Dr Kerry Hagan and Mr Jürgen Simpson and was successfully examined by Professor Robert Normandeau (Faculté de musique, Université de Montréal) and Dr Robert Sazdov (University Limerick) in October 2011.