The Pencil Project is a performance piece created by sound artists Martin Messier and Jacques Poulin-Denis. Their intention was to craft a live electronic music piece inspired by the physicality of writing and the imagery it articulates. Using computer technology, the performers translate scribbling, scratching, dotting and drawing with pencil music.

Although a lot of programming, signal processing and design provide de backbone of this project, one of its main objectives is to keep the technology invisible. The computers are hidden and untouched throughout the piece, allowing object manipulation and the creation of sound to be the performers’ main focus.

The most important aspect of The Pencil Project is the music itself. Using the proximity of contact microphones, an extensive range of sonorities and “sound gestures” is created. From the grainy voice-like noises of a pencil on a page, to the violent textures of ripping paper, a rich vocabulary is explored, transformed and layered to create an evocative atmosphere.

The Pencil Project is about musicianship. Liberated from the computer screen and equipped with hands-on objects, the performers explore a new form of expressivity. Through an authentic and stimulating performance, the musicians bring computer music intimately close to playing an actual musical instrument.

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