Press release

Dérive a concept app artwork by Haroon Mirza


For immediate release


Apps by Artists is launching Dérive, a new app concept by artist Haroon Mirza commissioned for BRASS:Pitch on 10 July 2015 ahead of this year’s BRASS festival.

The app, which received funding from Arts Council England and Durham County Council, will connect users to the traditional parade routes of the Durham Miners’ Gala and enable users to alter the tempo of brass music according to the tempo of their own steps.

Users can select music from a special library of brass marching music, some of which has been especially recorded by the Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band. Whilst marching the app will automatically adjust the tempo of the music, adapting to the speed at which the user is walking.

Dérive merges the Situationists’ idea of experimental behaviour and drifting through a landscape, with the Durham Colliery Bands’ legacy of designated processional routes.

The launch of the app coincides with BRASS, an international festival that takes place between 16-19 July 2015, in the City of Durham, during which users of the app will be invited to ‘pin’ their ‘music journey’ to the map and share via Facebook and Twitter.

This mass-participation event provides an ideal opportunity for festival-goers to feed into the development process. Following the festival, an update will be released containing the ‘music journeys’ created during the festival period.

The app is free to download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Download the app and show solidarity with the parading bands whilst simultaneously ‘marching to your own tune’.




Concept background

Since 2005 when Nike first produced an integrated accelerometer in its iPod Nano, Mirza has been researching a work that he always intended to become an iPod app. This artwork would “take the information of your footsteps and play music at the same tempo”.

Taking its cue from the tradition of the colliery bands’ designated parade routes at the annual Durham Miners’ Gala, Dérive plays with the Situationists’ idea of experimental behaviour and the influence of external, situational factors rather than internal traits or motivations. One of the situationist practices is the ‘dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

Mirza is attracted to prototyping and designing systems that facilitate their production.

In the creation of this new concept app artwork Mirza will further his research utilising mobile technologies that invite, and harness, audience participation in the generation of new soundscapes. Mirza has been supported by Newcastle-based artist Peter J Evans in the realisation of this concept.


Notes for the Editor

Dérive has been produced by Apps by Artists and developed by Flo-culture and GMS/ with the support of Lisson Gallery and public funding from Arts Council England and Durham County Council.

Below are links to a definition of the title:


Links to download the app

Get it on Google Play


Haroon Mirza

London-based artist Haroon Mirza (b 1977) asks us to reconsider the perceptual distinctions between noise, sound and music, and draws into question the categorisation of cultural forms. “All music is organised sound or organised noise,” he says. “So as long as you’re organising acoustic material, it’s just the perception and the context that defines it as music or noise or sound or just a nuisance” (2013). He has a BA in Painting from Winchester School of Art, an MA in Design Critical Practice and Theory from Goldsmiths College (2006) and an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design (2007). Recent awards include the Nam June Paik Award 2014, and the Zurich Art Prize 2014.


Apps by Artists

Apps by Artists is a research initiative founded and co-directed by Grainne Sweeney (GMS/ealain) & Katherine Pearson (Flo_culture) with the aim of exploring how new technologies can be used to transform how artists realise their ideas, engage with audiences and sell their work.


GMS/ealain [ealain is the Irish word for art] was founded by curator Grainne Sweeney as a practice that specialises in researching and commissioning collaboratively with contemporary artists, museums and galleries in the UK and internationally. She has significant expertise in leading projects with contemporary artists, and producing multi-partner exhibitions and new work with amongst others: Alex Katz, Christine Borland, Susan Hiller, Tate, mima, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and The Getty Research Institute.


Flo-culture is a team of researchers and software developers who specialise in working with artists and cultural partners to develop products and services that help organisations increase participation and evaluate the impact of their work.


Peter J Evans


Brass music permissions

Some of the brass music included in the app has been especially recorded by the Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band. Some has been included with kind permissions from the President of the Tredegar Town Band.


About BRASS:Pitch

Set up four years ago by Durham’s BRASS Festival as a fund for new work which challenges perceptions of brass music, this year’s BRASS:Pitch supports four new commissions.

The 2015 BRASS:Pitch commissions created for this year’s BRASS are: Bandstand by photographer Rob Bowman; Dérive by artist Haroon Mirza; Things That Aren’t There by sculptor Rob Olins and composer and sound artist Ryan Cockerham, and Last Train to Elvet, tall tales, music and live cartooning with  poet Ian McMillan, olympic composer Luke Carver Goss, cartoonist of the year Tony Husband and the Tredegar Town Band. These works explore the heritage of brass music within its contemporary social context while in some cases delivering a range of brass music through unexpected mediums. For further details:


Photographs and app screenshots

High resolution photos from the brass music recording session and screenshots of Dérive are available on request.

Please contact for more information