Set yourself free and venture into the wilds of the auditory outer reaches: there you will find James Hullick enraptured in the silver of white noise.
James Hullick’s auditory creation practice is wide ranging. His arts career began in the form of solo pianist, vocalist and composer. He was taught by Felix Werder (Australia/Germany), James Tenney (USA) Warren Burt (Australia/USA) and briefly by Liza Lim (Australia). As a young man he attended the Stockhausen Summer Classes and spent a short time at Luciano Berio’s Tempo Reale Studio in Florence. After spending his late teens and early 20s focusing on the study of composition and music making, he then branched out into electronic sound making in his mid to late 20s before adding sound sculpture, installation art and music making machinery to his creative activities in his early 30s, when his professional career ultimately arose.
James’ work is characterised by an unusual ability to use sound to engage in social issues, and an unusual versatility of aesthetic, which ranges from neo-Gothicism to more austere classically principled process-based perceptual works. His sonic works have been performed, exhibited and presented in Asia, North America and Europe for a variety of ensembles, electronic formats and installation formats. A number of James’ projects have been at the fore-front of sonic art; real time scores (scores that update in real time via a computer), sk-eye like mind (2007), The NIS (2009); sound making machines The Gotholin (2007), Swarmlings (2010); community arts projects The Click Clack Project (2010), to name just a few of the sonic terrains that James continues to embrace.
James has been working with The Amplified Elephants, an ensemble for sound makers with intellectual disabilities, since 2005. The Amplified Elephants, who according to one The Age review “taught us all how to listen”, are based at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, where James’ work within communities was first supported.
In 2002 James formed the BOLT Ensemble, a chamber ensemble that performs his work and is engaged in projects that James artistically directs.
Critics and arts thinkers have actively engaged with James’ works:
In 2008 in New York James exhibited the INCUBATOR installations: black wigs, cold light and speaker sculptures. On the opening nights for these works (Pratt Institute; Gallery Sakiko) James composed scores for cellist Will Martina while Martina was performing those same scores. “Truly mind-blowing” was the review. The feat was expanded to octet, when James 'live-composed' for the BOLT Ensemble in a Melbourne Festival (2014) event. The score was shredded in the performance as part of the piece.
When reviewing the 2014 sonic year The Age newspaper singled out THESE COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOURS (2014) — claiming that the 10 works for chamber orchestra and collaborating communities "stood out as an original, memorable, creative experience”.
John Davis, Director of the Australian Music Centre describes James as “amongst the most outstanding composers of his generation”. Art critic, Ashley Crawford summarized James’ aesthetic as ‘a decidedly fresh take on the Neo Gothic.” Owen McKern at 3PBS Radio talks of James in arresting terms as "creatively courageous" and a "composer of genius".
A “wild one in the Australian new sound scene” wrote a German critic, responding to James’ BRUCHLANDUNG chamber opera (2007-13), and that “the transparent psychology shocks as much as electrifies the listener”.
In 2008 James founded JOLT Sonic Arts Inc, an organisation dedicated to creating and presenting new cutting edge works. In 2009 JOLT and the Footscray Community Arts Centre co-presented THE NIS – a large multimedia sonic art event combining artists from a range of communities. This project marked a maturation in James' capacity to deliver large-scale events at high artistic and management levels. It also led to the formation of The Click Clack Project, a JOLT project that develops new work and presents events with artists emerging from various communities. Since that time JOLT has presented JOLT festivals and tours in the UK, Europe and Asia.
James has completed a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship (2012-2015) at the University of Melbourne. He was awarded an Australia Council Creative Australia Fellowship (2015) and received the Michael Kieran Harvey Piano Scholarship (2015-16).