On 2nd January 2015, I flew around 5,000 miles to take up the position of Visiting Assistant Professor in Sound Studies within Arts, Media & Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University. Despite my affinity for the Scottish climate, I immediately fell in love with the Sonoran Desert and the ominous, red mountains which protrude upwards in the distance in all possible directions.
I teach Introduction to Digital Sound, Advanced Interactive Sound, and I also run an undergraduate studio course in Digital Culture, where I mentor twelve projects that range from 3D printed and laser-cut records, installations which use motion-tracking for virtual city-scape sound-walks, to sonic art posters made from active materials.
It has been challenging to adapt not only to the American academic system, but also to the fact that ASU is, what it calls, a 'New American University’. Aside from a thrust towards 'social embeddedness' and 'global engagement' within its research, this also entails having a student body of over 80,000 and a high acceptance rate, along with low fees (even by current UK standards). My maximum class size is 60 students, which is low compared to many of my colleagues.
Aside from teaching, I have continued my research into the relationship between sound and touch, and I am currently working on a second version of my audio-haptic composition, Skin Music. I am exploring how sound can move in a trajectory over our body and out into space. I have also managed to continue developing my site-responsive live electronic performance work, which has taken me out to the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and Yosemite National Park.
Having the opportunity to be a visiting scholar has allowed me to perform with new collaborators, experience working within a unique and multidisciplinary department, extend my practice into new areas, and travel to some wonderful places. It’s been a challenging, yet enriching experience and one that I’d highly recommend.