Bio

Zak Argabrite is an interdisciplinary artist working in music, art and technology based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington New Zealand). Zak creates pieces for performance and installation and designs performance scores, handmade instruments, sculptures and circuitry. Zak’s artistic practice is varied and ever-evolving, exploring art making as a fluid and personal process that often involves learning new skills and stretching between established disciplines. 

In 2020 Zak received the Victoria Doctoral Scholarship to begin work on a PhD at Victoria University of Wellington. The focus of Zak’s PhD thesis is on establishing a deeper understanding of the complex pasts and futures of technology through research grounded in creative practice. Zak researches the international network of land extraction, manufacturing, distribution, consumption and waste processing that make up technology’s lives. Zak’s creative work surrounding this research (re)uses old, obsolete, discarded technology or e-waste to create audiovisual performances and installations.

Zak was born on ᏣᎳᎩ (Tsalagi) land (Louisville, Kentucky). Zak’s personal connection with that land and ᏣᎳᎩ heritage remains an important part of Zak’s life and artistic practice.

Zak grew up playing jazz, funk, blues, experimental and classical music, while maintaining a passion for visual arts. Zak moved to Lenapehoking (New York City) in 2012, where they studied Jazz, Composition and Sound Arts, and worked for several years in audio engineering and venue management. In 2019, Zak relocated to Aotearoa (New Zealand) and is currently pursuing a PhD in Sonic Arts at Victoria University of Wellington.

As a composer, Zak has had the privilege of having international performances and has written for large ensembles, orchestras, big bands, chamber ensembles, and solo artists. Zak has also had the opportunity to exhibit works of installation and video art, and has performed internationally in a variety of settings on wind instruments (saxophones, clarinets and handmade designs), handmade electronic instruments, and as a visual projection artist.

News

Ars Electronica

2.AUG.2021
I will be doing an audiovisual performance as part of a night of music from Garden Aotearoa 2021, a local event that is folded into this year’s Ars Electronica Festival for Art, Technology and Society which is running internationally online. I’ll be using old, discarded electronics to create music as well as accompanying projected visuals. I will post a link to the live stream when it becomes available.

ACMC21: Upcoming Conference/Paper publication

27.JUL.2021
An abstract that I submitted to the 2021 Australasian Computer Music Conference has been selected for publication. The topic focuses on the idea of the web browser as an artistic medium and looks at my new web-based work Packetsphere I created in collaboration with Becky Brown as a sort of case study of this. The conference will be hosted in Sydney and Melbourne as a mixed virtual/online event. I’ll be doing a presentation on the paper at the conference on 26 August.

Circuit Sculptures

15.JUL.2021
ᏏᏲ! I’ve started work on some new sculptures which are abstractions of FM radio transmitter circuits. ᏩᏙ to Tetsuo Kogawa for his years of research into radio art and making so much of that research online, check out his cool work at that link! Once I get the design worked out, the plan is to make lots of these in different shapes and arrange them into an installation that hangs and makes sound that you can walk through… I’m hoping to show it next year!

Guest Lecture

10.JUL.2021
I’ll be doing a guest lecture at Victoria University of Wellington in August for a 3rd year Sonic Arts course taught by Jim Murphy. The course is focused on p5.js as a way of introducing students to working with visual aspects in their work, such as in game-based work or for designing their own web-based user interfaces. My guest lecture will focus on the history of audiovisual works on the web, and the emergence of web art. I’ll introduce the work/writings of Olia Lialina, Mariella Yeregui, and Ceci Moss and I’ll also be showing my new collaborative work Packetsphere and discussing how some of these influences affected the design of that work.

Packetsphere

13.JUN.2021
ᎣᏏᏲ, my new piece Packetsphere, created in collaboration with Becky Brown is now live! Taking after the hypertext fiction literature/internet art genre of the 1990s, Packetsphere is a web art piece that takes you on an interactive journey through the internet as a single packet of data (the word “hello”). Along the way you’ll visit fantastic virtual and imagined places and entities such as a cryptocurrency mine, the old Yahoo! GeoCities server, and an animated dolphin gif named Karen. It’s designed to be read on a laptop or desktop and takes about an hour to read through, but don’t feel constrained by that, as it can also be enjoyed by just tapping and clicking through, letting the sounds and animations wash over you like a bizarre early internet bath! You can check out Packetsphere HERE.
We created this piece as part of the inaugural BROWSER Festival (check out some of the other cool pieces at that link!) started by Brandon Snyder another fantastic composer/artist/writer. Check out his stuff!

Whenua Pūoro

14.APR.2021
ᏏᏲ, I will be helping to lead a workshop with musician Noel Meek and taonga pūoro composer/performer Rob Thorne, 24 APRIL 2PM NZST at the Adam Concert Room at NZSM, Te Whanganui-A-Tara, Aotearoa. The workshop will focus on performing with natural materials (specifically stones), in the context of taonga pūoro and in works by Pauline Oliveros and Christian Wolff. Stones will be provided, but you are encouraged to bring your own 🙂 Following the workshop will be a performance led by Noel, Rob and myself.

BROWSER Festival

18.MAR.2021
I’ll be collaborating with artist Becky Brown on a new web art piece for the inaugural 2021 BROWSER Festival (11-12 June). The festival will have an in-person component held in Stuttgart DE, but will also be accessible online internationally.

MAL PRACTICE

14.FEB.2021
ᏏᏲ! I’ll be performing visuals using some circuit-bent and hacked video equipment for MAL PRACTICE, a night of experimental club music at Valhalla, Te Whanganui-A-Tara, Aotearoa 8PM-3AM NZST. The event is part of PRACTICE, an ongoing series of experimental club shows. Check out the awesome poster and more about the event ᎠᎭᏂ.

New project with Celeste Oram

15.FEB.2021
I’ll be leading the design and build for four custom-made electronic devices for composer Celeste Oram to be featured in an upcoming theatrical work of Celeste’s. The piece is being written for Berlin-based German/Icelandic ensemble Adapter. A performance date for this project is TBD, 2022.

ResBaz Performance and Research Presentation on YouTube

26.NOV.2020
I’ve uploaded the live stream from my ResBaz presentation (see previous post) onto my YouTube page. Thank you to everyone who tuned in it was a really good time for me! Check it out here:

Upcoming Virtual Performance and Research Presentation

10.NOV.2020
I’ll be doing a YouTube live stream as part of Research Bazaar (ResBaz) hosted by Auckland University and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. You can find info about the conference here:

https://resbaz.auckland.ac.nz/

In my live stream I’ll be discussing the PhD research in Sonic Arts that I’m undertaking at New Zealand School of Music and the Victoria University of Wellington’s Engineering Department. I’ll be showing off some of the second-hand, discarded e-waste devices that I’ve been collecting as part of that research, some of the hacking I’ve been doing to turn them into audio visual instruments. I’ll then be doing a 20 minute performance, followed by some discussion about the environmental concerns that e-waste poses and how this informs my recent work. Should be fun!

Valhalla show with Amy Jean and Alice Agnes

1.NOV.2020
I’ll be playing with projections for a show with my friend Amy Jean as well as Alice Agnes at Valhalla in Wellington NZ on Friday 13th.

https://www.facebook.com/events/284046122869262/

New Streaming Project e-Waste TV (eW-TV)

1.SEP.2020
I’m excited to announce some new things underway for a big project. Please start watching this space for some audio visual work that is coming out of my PhD Sonic Arts research into e-waste here at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

All the devices used to produce the audiovisual works broadcast at this link will be from my growing collection of second-hand, discarded e-waste circuits which I will be hacking, circuit-bending, modding, and artistically recontextualising into pieces for performance and installation over the next few years. Currently all my broadcasts are made from my studio here in Wellington, New Zealand.

8.JUN.2020
On May.24.2020 a new work of mine, Dirt was broadcast on 95bFM’s Artbank show. I had a chat with Tom Tuke about the piece and what it’s been like watching COVID in NYC from here in New Zealand. You can listen to the interview below:

You can check out the whole show {here}.

Audio Painting for InfraSound

1.MAY.2020
InfraSound Ensemble has recently released my collaboration with them, Objects Improv #1 and it also serves as the fourth installment in my Audio Painting series. The collaboration started with InfraSound ensemble using a four minute video I made to improvise with household objects in sync with the changing colors and shapes. Their four minute improvisations were re-mixed into an eight minute track and given to me to “score” with a new video. The combined eight minute video/audio is below:

Dirt

18.APR.2020
My new piece Dirt is up, more info on the work page. You can also listen here:

Events

Upcoming:

SEP.9.2021 Solo audiovisual hardware hacking performance
for Ars Electronica Garden Aotearoa 2021
@ Meow 8:00-11:00pm NZST {info}

Past:

JUN.11-13.2021 Virtual collaborative work with Becky Brown
for BROWSER Festival 2021
@ The World Wide Web 7:00-8:30pm CEST {info}

MAR.03.2021 Public PhD Confirmation presentation on my research
@ 86FT 006 New Zealand School of Music 10AM-11AM NZST

FEB.20.2021 Performing live with hardware-hacked projections
for MALPRACTICE
@ Valhalla 8PM-?? NZST

NOV.26.2020 Virtual Performance/Presentation
for ResBaz 2020
@ YouTube Live 12PM-1PM NZST, {info} {watch}

NOV.13.2020 Performing live with hardware-hacked projections with Amy Jean and Alice Agnes
@ Valhalla 11PM-3AM NZST, Wellington NZ {info}

MAY.24.2020 Dirt broadcast and radio interview on 95bFM’s Artbank
@ 95bFM 10.00AM-12.00PM NZST {listen}

MAY.14.2020 Audio Painting commissioned by InfraSound Ensemble
@ Facebook Live 7.30PM EST {watch}

JAN.01.2020 Pan Sonus performs ITCHY
@ St. John’s in the Village, New York NY USA

JAN.12.2020 Orchestra Enigmatic performs Debris Cloud
@ 21C Gallery, Louisville KY USA {watch}

JAN.10.2020 Orchestra Enigmatic performs Debris Cloud
@ 21C Gallery, Louisville KY USA

OCT.19.2019 Solo improvisation
@ Pyramid Club, Wellington NZ

AUG.29.2019 PanSonus performs ITCHY
@ Pyramid Club, Wellington NZ {info}

AUG.31.2019 PanSonus performs ITCHY
@ New Zealand School of Music, Wellington NZ

Watch

Audio Painting Series (2020-present):


debris cloud 2016/17 (2019)
for chamber orchestra and cellphones
written for Orchestra Enigmatic


ITCHY (2019)
for 2 performers and electronics
written for PanSonus


TOCAR (2016) rev. 2019
for performer and installation
performed by Jon Clancy


AGENT/OBJECT/PLACE/USE (2018)
on orchestra


werkFalse (2017)
for solo flute, performer with amplified ears and amplified table
performed by Leia Slosberg


[UNTITLED] (2016) (2017) (version for cello)
for cellist, installation and electronic performer
performed by Thea Mesirow and Zak Argabrite


nest (2016):
site specific sound installation
written for The Loretto Project 2016

land:

house:

barn:


MOTHLIGHT (2016)
for 1 or more cellos and projected video
performed by Thea Mesirow and Kevin McFarland


to growth inside leaving (2015)
for two toy pianos and student viola
performed by wind-up elephant


micros (2014)for cello
I.
II.
III. Offing (for cello and 5 channel video):