Dr Roger Mills is an internationally recognised musician, composer and writer whose practice and research focuses on Internet music making, improvisation and sound design for radio, stage and screen. Credits include sound design for multiscreen cinema film Hindsight - Ignition Films (UK), the sound score for BAFTA award winning dance theatre performance At Swim Two Boys by Earthfall (UK), and a Golden Eye award for his multi-stream contrapuntal radio performance Idea of South. A selection of his sound design and musical compositions works were featured at the Third International Soundscore Exhibition as part of the Prague Quadrenniel (2011) and at the Gormley to Gaga, UK Performance Design Exhibition at the V&A, London (2012).
Recent work includes the sound score for flow#1-3#fließen an immersive multiscreen animation by the tranSTURM collective exhibited at the Galeries, Sydney, for VIVID2016, and the acclaimed studio album Mirror Image by his duo Nada 2015.
Roger is the musical director of the internationally acclaimed Internet music ensemble Ethernet Orchestra, which informs his research of intercultural telematic music making. He is an associate researcher at the Creativity and Cognition Studios in the Faculty of Engineering and IT, where he researches telematic interaction in networked and digitally mediated environments. He has written numerous conference papers, journal articles and book chapters on this subject and is currently writing a book on how cross-cultural musicians negotiate the creative telematic experience.
Roger has had a twenty-year career as a musician and sound designer. Alongside his academic work he continues to work in the field.
Roger's research interests coalesce around Practice-based research of intercultural interaction in telematic musical improvisation. He
Sound and Music Design
Media Arts and Production
Flight of the Sea Swallow is a cross-reality telematic performance project developed by the multimedia group blackhole factory. Live data from distributed heat, light and movement sensors is visualised within the virtual and real-world performance spaces, with the aim of increasing tele-presence for performers and audiences. This article describes the background of the project, as well as its design and implementation over several iterative performances.
Mills, R.H. & Beilharz, K.A. 2012, 'Listening Through the Firewall: Semiotics of sound in networked improvisation', Organised Sound, vol. 17, no. 01, pp. 16-27.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Maturation of network technologies and high-speed broadband has led to significant developments in multi-user platforms that enable synchronous networked improvisation across global distances. However sophisticated the interface, nuances of face-to-face communication such as gesture, facial expression, and body language are not available to the remote improviser. Sound artists and musicians must rely on listening and the semiotics of sound to mediate their interaction and the resulting collaboration. This paper examines two case studies of networked improvisatory performances by the inter-cultural tele-music ensemble Ethernet Orchestra.It focuses on qualities of sound (e.g. timbre, frequency, amplitude) in the group's networked improvisation, examining how they become arbiters of meaning in dialogical musical interactions without visual gestural signifiers. The evaluation is achieved through a framework of Distributed Cognition, highlighting the centrality of culture, artefact and environment in the analysis of dispersed musical perception. It contrasts salient qualities of sound in the groups collective improvisation, highlighting the interpretive challenges for cross-cultural musicians in a real-time `jam session. As network technologies provide unprecedented opportunities for diverse inter-cultural collaboration, it is sound as the carrier of meaning that mediates these new experiences.
Mills, R.H. 2014, 'The Metaphorical Basis of Perception in Intercultural Networked Improvisation' in Abrahams, A. & Jamieson, H.V. (eds), Cyposium: The Book, Link Editions, Brescia, pp. 103-116.
This article is an amalgam of the online presentation given by the author to the Cyposium, of Cyberformance on the 13th of October 2012, and continuing research of cross-cultural interaction in networked improvisation. It describes the analysis of 2 case studies of tele-improvised performances, illustrating the pervasiveness of conceptual metaphor in structuring networked musician's perception of causation in improvised musical interaction. The analysis is achieved through a multimodal analytical framework that examines instances of musical expression and interpretation from case study audio-visual recordings, and transcripts of musician's reflective experiences. The framework blends a Social Semiotic theoretical perspective with ideas from the related field of Cognitive Linguistics in examining experiential meaning potential in melody, harmony and rhythm, and the image schematic structuring of musician's perception in networked improvisatory interaction. While these terms will be described in further detail, the analytical value of this methodology provides a comprehensive understanding of the musicians' cognitive experiences, including their conceptual approaches to, and interpretation of musical components in improvised interaction, and the manipulation sound qualities to affect causation in improvisatory exchanges.
Mills, R.H. & Beilharz, K. 2014, 'The Network Unveiled: Evaluating Tele-musical Interaction' in Candy, L. & Ferguson, S. (eds), Interactive Experience in the Digital Age, Springer, Switzerland, pp. 109-122.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
With contributions from artists, scientists, curators, entrepreneurs and designers engaged in the creative arts, this book is an invaluable resource for both researchers and practitioners, working in this emerging field.
Mills, R.H. 2014, 'Flight of the Sea Swallow: A Multiimodal Approach to Examining Collaborative Interaction in Networked Music Performance', Proceedings of Conference of Interdisciplinary Musicology, Berlin Germany, pp. 1-6.
Understanding the technical and creative complexities
of networked music performance provides the starting point for the
analysis of the 2014 Flight of the Sea Swallow collaboration between
networked musicians in New York, USA, Sydney, Australia and
Braunschweig, Germany. Performers interacted remotely by
navigating a 3-D audiovisual environment with wristbands containing
accelerometers, visualised as animated hands within the virtual space.
Heat and light sensors in each location generated data that was
visualised as coloured lighting states within the physical performance
space, reflecting those characteristics of the dispersed performers
sensate environments. Drawing on multimodality, with its focus on the
construction of meaning across multiple communicative modes, this
paper examines the relationship between performers dislocated,
technologically mediated interaction and the ways in which this
shaped their improvisatory musical experience. The analysis examines
the interplay between different modes of action, demonstrating the
role that the body plays in the performer's relationship to the
technology used and conceptualisation of their creative networked
Mills, R.H. 2011, 'Ethernet Orchestra: Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Interaction in Networked Improvisatory Performance', Proceedings of the 17th International Symposium on Electronic Art ISEA2011 Istanbul, Istanbul International Symposium on Electronic Art, Leonardo/ISAST, Istanbul Turkey.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Mills, R.H. 2011, 'Tele-Improvisations: Cross Cultural Creativity in Networked Improvisation', Proceedings of ACM Conference of Creativity and Cognition, Conference on Creativity and Cognition, ACM, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, pp. 465-466.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper summarizes the author's thesis investigating
intercultural creativity and cognition in networked musical
improvisation. The research is situated amongst scholarly
studies of tele-musical interaction, highlighting the
technological agenda that drives this enquiry and the need
for a deeper examination of the experiential qualities of
networked improvisatory practice. The advantages of
distributed cognition as a theoretical perspective are
considered in relation to evaluation of a preliminary pilot
study. Incidences of creative interaction reveal the cognitive
strategies that musicians employ to navigate the dispersed
non-visual, improvisatory-networked experience.
Mills, R.H. 2010, 'Dislocated Sound: A Survey of Improvisation in Networked Audio Platforms', Proceedings of the 2010 Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME 2010), New Interfaces for Musical Expression, University of Technology, Sydney., University of Technology, Sydney, pp. 1-6.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The evolution of networked audio technologies has created unprecedented opportunities for musicians to improvise with instrumentalists from a diverse range of cultures and disciplines. As network speeds increase and latency is consigned to history, tele-musical collaboration, and in particular improvisation will be shaped by new methodologies that respond to this potential. While networked technologies eliminate distance in physical space, for the remote improviser, this creates a liminality of experience through which their performance is mediated. As a first step in understanding the conditions arising from collaboration in networked audio platforms, this paper will examine selected case studies of improvisation in a variety of networked interfaces. The author will examine how platform characteristics and network conditions influence the process of collective improvisation and the methodologies musicians are employing to negotiate their networked experiences.
Mills, R.H., 'Diffusion', Memory Flows, Centre for Media Arts Innovation, UTS, Newington Armory, Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Homebush Bay, Sydney.
Diffusion contemplates the memory of water as metaphor for the residue of the toxic chemicals that have been dumped and continuously leach from the soil into the Parramatta River, moving up and down stream with the rain and tide, the industry and transport. A sound and light installation that spits, pulses and glows as the otherwise silent underwater sounds reveal the ebb and flow of the water and agitate pollutants that move within. Memory Flows is an ongoing and distributed media art project of the Centre for Media Arts and Inovation funded by the Inter-Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. It was featured as part of the Sydney Biennale affiliated exhibitions.