Reactor Halls E12: Ugly Weekender (Dirty Electronics)




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title



Musical Score
Recording, musical

Peer reviewed



“The most difficult challenges for designers of electronic objects now lie not in technical and semiotic functionality, where optimal levels of performance are already attainable, but in the realms of metaphysics, poetry, and aesthetics …” (Anthony Dunne, Hertzian Tales). Microprocessors and electronic circuits have become part of the very fabric of everyday life, omnipresent. Yet our relationship and understanding of ‘what is often keeping us a live’ becomes more intangible. Thousands of components populate devices in the palm of our hands or machines we have become reliant upon, and to most, these esoteric components exist unseen beneath a surface, silent and anonymous. Circuits of great complexity carry electrons to enact seeming miracles. And in these designs there is beauty in both form and function. Dirty Electronics Ugly Weekender will take a macroscopic approach towards electronic circuits, playing-out the forms and exploring shapes and patterns latent in their design, and investigating how these circuits could lend themselves to a performance. A simple circuit based on a voltage controlled amplifier (VCA) combined with a microprocessor will be used as a starting point for the work. A devised new performance will emerge through a ‘sleepless’ night and be performed the following day. The 24-hour ‘performance’ will be used as a catalyst to create a dynamic approach to live electronic sound and musical composition that explores a fluid methodology for working across different disciplines. An open call will be made inviting a limited number of participants to join the artists in the creation of the work, and a special menu and banquet based on the ugly weekender theme will be prepared for the participants. Central to the Ugly Weekender will be the publication of a booklet containing essays, illustrations, sketches, diagrams, and muses by participating artists and guest writer. The title Ugly Weekender derives from a DIY radio transmitter project that appeared in an article by Roger Hayward and Wes Hayward published in QST, a magazine for amateur radio enthusiasts, August 1981. Wes Hayward also used the term ugly construction to describe a method for creating DIY circuit boards that also includes Manhattan style and dead bugging techniques.



audiovisual composition, audiovisual performance, live electronics, DIY electronics, participatory art, printed circuit board artwork, information experience design


Richards, J. (2015) Reactor Halls E12: Ugly Weekender (Dirty Electronics). [audiovisual composition/performacne, PCB artwork, sound object].


Research Institute

Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2)