Department of Music

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John Richards

Teaching Associate in Music Technology, Faculty of Arts



John Richards explores Dirty Electronics focusing on shared experiences, social interaction and critical making. He is concerned with the performance of large-group electronic music and DIY electronics, and he has come to consider these activities as a holistic action. It is a fluid, live practice associated with the ideas of workshop-installation and performance-installation. His work pushes the boundaries between music, performance art, electronics, and graphic design and is transdisciplinary as well as having a socio-political dimension. He has also written numerous texts on DIY practices, performance of electronic music, and material approaches in relation to sound art.

As Dirty Electronics, Richards has created sound devices for various arts organisations and festivals. He released a series of hand-held synths on Mute Records in collaboration with the designer and writer Adrian Shaughnessy. Other significant artwork/sound circuits have included: the Sonar 20th Anniversary Synth for the electronic music festival Sonar; and Polytik, collaboration with graphic designer Jack Featherstone and Artists & Engineers. Richards considers these devices as 'physical editions', an embodiment and means of dissemination of musical ideas.

John Richards completed a PhD at the University of York researching electroacoustic composition and has taught at many of the world-leading music and art institutions. He is currently visiting tutor on the MA Live Electronics at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.

Expertise Summary

John Richards' research is transdisciplinary drawing on creative coding, embedded electronics, graphic design and information and experience design. He has developed 'Physical Editions': sound devices and synths exploring creative coding, generative sound and graphical artwork circuit boards. These devices open up narratives on how digital technologies can shape the way sound and music are disseminated and consumed offering a new form of 'cultural product'.

He uses the term Dirty Electronics to describe a distinctive research profile and practice that focuses on a hands-on approach to electronic sound, engaging physically with making sound and the materials that make sound. The research prioritises the democratisation of technology in the field of digital arts and encompasses critical making, a way of reflecting on the socio-economic, environmental and cultural impact of new technologies.

Research Summary

Performance-installation and workshop-installation - composing inside electronics, creative coding, and critical making

Beyond the Loudspeaker, exploring ways to produce electronic sound without the use of a moving coil loudspeaker

Sound-based music and communities of practice

Department of Music

The University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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