Cobi van Tonder
I see my work and identity/lifestyle as hybrid and nomadic and do not limit myself to a specific genre, sub-genre, discipline or place. I've been a wanderer and (in my work/imagination) a shapeshifter. From an early age I realised how thin a layer the conceptions of 'reality' and 'self' are and that the beauty (and zest) occurred in the structure of occurrences/events/objects rather than these things themselves.
Thus the recurring themes, rhythm, reflections, iterations, shifts, transformations, aging over time etc that reveals the invisible.
My initial point of departure is formal music composition, and include both instrumental and electronic elements. Works also explore ideas about existence, identity, translation, architecture, spatiality (specifically in sound, acoustics and sound perception), networked sound installation as a means to recombinant sound space, audio/other sensory hybrid experiences such as audio/visual, audio/tactile (the audio physical experience of sound) and audio/light.
Cobi van Tonder is a South African born composer, media artist and lecturer. The most recent works revolve around structural patterning - iterative and fractal (self-similar) approaches to compositiom, three dimensionality in sound (or spatial audio) and the technological landscape that enables it.
Van Tonder has also produced commercially for cinema, television, radio, and mobile media before commencing academic studies at a later age. She completed a MFA Art Practice degree at Stanford, USA; a BHons in Music in History and Society (Musicology) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and simultaneously a Jazz Diploma majoring in Film music and Jazz Piano at the Technikon of Pretoria, South Africa. Her work has been performed and showed in New York, London, San Jose, San Francisco, Seoul, Stuttgart, Berlin, Ogaki, Toronto, South Africa and Antarctica.
Other inspirations and interests: field recording, futuristic lifestyle design, videography, wearable technologies, math, sound healing, technology and social media.
Current: PhD Digital Arts and Humanities, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
2009: MFA Art Practice, Stanford University, USA.
2008-2009: Classes taken at Stanford: Video Art I: Conceptual Video Art and production technique with Amy Hicks, Video Art II: Hollywood Style with Jonn Herschend; Light as Sculptural Element with Elaine Buckholtz; Independent study with Prof. Jonathan Abel in Spatial Acoustics and 3D sound; Foundations of Computer-Generated Sound with Chris Chafe, Ge Wang and Miriam Koler; Advanced Sound-Recording Technology with Jay Kadis; Intelligent Audio Systems: Foundations and Applications of Music Information Retrieval with Jay LeBoeuf. Work intensively with Paul Demarinis, Mark Applebaum and Gail Wight as supervisors. Participate in weekly Object and Concept seminars.
2004-2007: Composition encounters with Kevin Volans.
2005: BHons in Music in History and Society (Musicology) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Earlier: Jazz Diploma majoring in Film music and Jazz Piano at the Technikon of Pretoria, South Africa.
2000-2004 and 2011: Intensive 7Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu and Tai Chi training.
2009: MEMORY SCENE, MFA Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the Stanford MFA Art Practice degree, Art and Art History Department of Stanford, California, 2009.
2004: MUSIC COMPOSITION AND PERFORMANCE IN INTERACTIVE COMPUTER/HUMAN SYSTEMS, Research essay submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Honors in Music in History and Society in the Wits School of Arts, Faculty of Humanities,University of the Witwatersrand.Johannesburg, December 2004.
2013: Trinity College Performing Arts Grant for world premiere concert in Dublin of String Quartet 1.
2012-2015: Scholarship awardee for PhD Digital Arts and Humanities, Trinity College, Ireland.
2008: P.Arty, residency, Seoul, Korea.
2007: Music OMI International Musicians Residency, Hudson, NY.
2007: Scholarship awardee for MFA Arts Stanford, California.2007: SNOW, Audio CD release, Merz/Solitude, Germany, in the Reihe Projektiv series
2005-2006: ZERO ONE/IDEO artist-in-residence, Villa Montalvo. Collaboration with IDEO, Palo Alto. Create version one of Skatesonic.
2006: 12 months fellowship from Akademie Schloss Solitude, Germany
2006: International Guest Artists Residency, Torronto. Physical, sonic, design, animation and dance storytelling, led by team of Katya Bonenfant, Cobi van Tonder, HansWerner Klohe and Su Mei Jang.
2003: Digital Pluralism – UNESCO Digital Arts Award for Ephemeral Gumboots.
2003: Scholarship awardee at the 2003 International Composers Indaba South Africa(ICISA) at the National Arts Festival, in Grahamestown, SA.
2013: Relativity for Voice and Tape (8min) - with vocalist Michelle O’Rourke - Printing Room, Trinity.
2013: String Quartet No 1 ‘KO’ (18min)
2012: EXPLODE/IMPLODE (20min) - 42 channel Spatial Audio piece developed at SARC, Queens University for the Sonic Lab performance space.
2012: 21 TAPE (21min) - Electronic music work based on a transcription of an audio sample taken from a talk by Terrence McKenna.
2011: Lullaby for InfrasoundBed (40min loop) - Toffee Festival, City Hall Cape Town.
2010: Tristan Time Space Continuum - for Trumpet, Trombone & Cello - Der Sommer in Stuttgart - mit Musik der Jahrhunderte, Germany.
2010: Streams, 16.8 channel sound sculpture - with Max/MSP and Cymascope (a sound healing device) frequency dial tones. The Compound, San Francisco.
2010: Static Blackout, 16.8 channel sound sculpture - with Max/MSP and Nord Modular Synth. The Compound, San Francisco.
2010: Wall of blood - Collaboration with Jon Leidecker (released October 2010).
2009: The Sleeping - HD Video Performance, China Town, San Francisco - video stolen.
2009: Wunderflater, Sculpture/Architecture/Installation/Networked live audio-feed. Really complex network audio streaming achievement! Building a Supercollider mixer in combination with a Linux Network Audio protocal called Jacktrip to link up seven remote spaces acoustically. Tomas Welton Gallery, Stanford. MFA group collaborative show with Michael Arcega, Reed Anderson, Kazumi Shiho and Jina Valentine and with much help from CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics) who developed Jacktrip.
2009: Vuurvangerkindmens, HD Video and 16-channel sound diffusion, CCRMA Stage, Stanford.
2008: Noexi(s)t, HD Video and 8-channel sound diffusion, CCRMA stage, Stanford.
2008: 8x8x8 Black Sensory Box, Stanford.
2008: Looping I, recursive projections with light, glass and live video. An installation using Max/MSP/Jitter, 2 live cameras and 3 projectors, Art Studio, Stanford University.
2008: Release of Chupacabra on GLU-music with Susanne M. Winterling.
2008: Skatesonic, Interactive skateboard and music project for P.A.R.Ty Seoul, Korea.
2007: Memory and Distance for Solo Cello performed by Gavriel Lipkind as part of the Solitude Cycle, Ludwigsburg, Germany.
2007: Golden Summer Mistake for Soprano and Harpsichord. Soprano Angelika Luz and pianist/harpsichordist Florian Holscher. Kein Liederabend, Stuttgart.
2006: Co-existenz for 9 piece ensemble, performed by Ensemble Ascolta. Stuttgart, ISCM World New Music Festival 2006 grenzenlos during the Festival Sommer in Stuttgart
2004: Feb – May: Exhibit Ephemeral Gumboots at the Ogaki Biennale 2004, on invitation by IAMAS (Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences /International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences), dedicated to the theme ofSCHOOL OF FUTURES
Live Performance (only most recent)
2009: A spatial doppler improvisation performance of Marc Applebaum Metaphysics of Notation Score at The Cantor Arts Center, Stanford.
2008: Member of the Soundwire Ensemble, doing various networked collaborative performances under the lead of Chris Chafe with participating ensembles at other institutions (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Princeton, UCSD, UCSC, and others).
2008: Live underwater-generated sound performance for Red Rover dance event with Brittany Brown Ceres, Max Citron and Jeff Cooper. Department of Drama and the Dance Division Co-sponsored by SICA and Stanford Lively Arts.
2007: Performance of Blow composed during Music OMI International Musicians Residency CONCERT, New York City.
Lecturing and Teaching
2010-2011: Head of Digital Film Department, SAE Institute, Cape Town, South Africa. Lecturing duties include lectures on Film Studies, Sound, Digital Film Production, Visual Storytelling, Creative Project and individual critique sessions with students.
2008-2009: Lecturer in Video Art, Stanford, USA.
2008-2009: Teaching assistant in the following classes given at Stanford Art Department: Sound Art with Paul DeMarinis, Light as Sculptural Element with Elaine Buckholtz, Video Art with Amy Hicks, Sculpture with Terry Berlier, Drawing and Painting with Kevin Bean, Digital Art with Joe McKay, Digital Art with Gail Wight.
2007: Part time lecturer in Music Composition, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2005: Part-time lecturer in Sound Design at Vega - The Brand CommunicationsSchool, Johannesburg, South Africa.
1998-2008: Lead various educational theatre or interactive workshops for children and students.
Sound design and music production experience working closely with video, film, dance and other producers.
Involved with various social media start-ups.
Interaction design: Ephemeral Gumboots and Skatesonic, involved development of unique self-built systems with sensors, Bluetooth communication, and very intricate Max/MSP/Jitter programming.
Event and fieldwork
2009 - 2010: Manage underground performance and club space in San Francisco, hosting about 40 unique events ranging from experimental electronic music, techno, noise, industrial and experimental with DJs and musicians from all over the world.
2008: Part of Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Acoustics Project: A collaboration between Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) and Archaeology/Anthropology. Responsible for documenting the project, main videographer during field trip to Chavín de Huántar. Sponsored by National Geographic and SICA.
Directed for Skatesonic an engineering and design team at the Palo Alto design firm IDEO during a 6 month residency there.
Software and Technical Knowledge Base
Expert with studio recording gear such as mixers, microphones, various synthesizers, free standing recorders and field recorders.
Familiar with various video cameras and very good at basic recording techniques and lighting.
Logic Pro, Reaktor, Metasynth, Ableton Live, FinalCutPro, Max/MSP, Jitter.
Familiar with surround sound technique tools like Ambisonics.
Familiar with Linux based audio network technology such as Jacktrip and Jamlinks.
Currently learning Java, C++, objective C with focus on iPhone SDK and writing basic iPhone Application code.