Matthew Tomkinson

Matthew is a writer, sound designer, and doctoral student in Theatre Studies at the University of British Columbia. His research explores the material, political, and psychological dimensions of sound within the Deaf, Disability, and Mad arts. Other research interests include: affect theory, feminist and queer theory, film and media studies, graphic medicine, health humanities, archival studies, dance studies, and decolonial studies.

Matthew’s music for dance and theatre has been presented at a number of festivals including PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Vines Art Festival, New Works, Dance in Vancouver, and Dancing on the Edge. His compositions span a wide range of genres including acoustic ecology, musique concrète, noise, electronic, and ambient. Together with Andy Zuliani, he presents collaborative sound art under the name Magazinist.

His debut collection of short prose, Archaic Torso of Gumby, co-authored with Geoffrey Morrison, is out with Gordon Hill Press as of March 2020, and his chapbook, For a Long Time, is available at Frog Hollow Press. An upcoming chapbook, oems, will be published by Guernica Editions in 2022.

Matthew lives in Vancouver on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Contact: mtomkins (at)


The Woe Trumpets | Sound installation, Vancity Theatre

Archaic Torso of Gumby (2020)

Gordon Hill Press

Archaic Torso of Gumby is a series of interlinked stories and essays by Geoffrey Morrison and Matthew Tomkinson that explore the gooey, prickly, sticky materials of late-capitalist pop culture, from video games to claymation to children’s picture-books commissioned by oil and gas companies. Here lyric essay, personal memoir, fable, pseudohistory, and science fiction all coexist alongside more conventional short story forms. Each part reveals unlikely connections between subjects as different as a sentient wallet, a gathering of headless saints, abject descriptions of 3D-printed food, a sixteenth-century courtier who thinks he’s a horse, a virtual reality religious experience, and a couple with a fetish involving crustaceans. By turns cerebral, goofy, and heartfelt, Archaic Torso of Gumby is a delirious rabbit hole for the adventurous reader.

Virtual reading: CBC
Twitter: @OfGumby
Read more: “Conscientious Collaboration

Reverse Search (2020)

Deep Blue

With Andy Zuliani, as Magazinist. Reverse Search is a four-channel audio installation with video projection.The work explores the coping mechanisms and interpretive schemas that one uses to deal with media saturation – binge-listening, purge-watching, endless scrolling – and the tendency of these modes of engagement toward superstition, paranoia, and conspiracy. These states are mirrored by the technology itself. Reverse Search was composed by the short-circuiting of algorithms whose purposes are to find likeness and similarity, to sift through the web and rearrange material in patterns. Its musical score is the result of sampling software sorting a vast range of clips and bites, overlooking the differences between drum hits and vocal tics; the clusters of images that compose the video component were spat out by a neural network which by design is incapable of registering the distinction between a face and a fold of leather.

For a Long Time (2019)

Frog Hollow Press

A chapbook in Frog Hollow Press’s Dis/Ability series, For a Long Time is a story told in quotations, each of which contains the title phrase, beginning with Proust and ending with Jo Nesbø. At once fractured and cohesive, the narrative takes on the quality of a feverish incantation. The result is a surreal meditation on time, obsession, and repetition that spans centuries and prose styles. For fans of: Joe Brainard, Annie Dillard, Anne Carson, Eliot Weinberger, David Markson…

Hotel Fata Morgana (2019)

Left of Main

With Andy Zuliani, as Magazinist. A YouTube video collage with live score for synthesizers, samplers, tape, and contact microphone. Hotel Fata Morgana explores the notion of music-as-mirage. The piece uses weird and wobbly textures, spectral shimmers, microtonal melodies, and slow-oscillating drones to approximate, musically, the optics of refraction. A four-part video series mirrors these transformations by reworking found YouTube footage — obscure documentaries, amateur meteorology, and news coverage — into new, hallucinatory geometries and nested surfaces. A study in distorted sonic realities, Hotel Fata Morgana interrogates the seductiveness of false horizons and fairy-tale architectures.

Looping (2019)

Dance in Vancouver

With Company 605. Looping is an installation built upon concepts from Company 605’s ensemble work, Loop, Lull. Over three nights, a rotating cast of fifteen performers trade in and out of a repeating improvised looping score. A practice of continuously tracking and responding to change, in themselves and in relation to one another, Looping is a complex test of endurance and capacity for adaptation, keeping the virtuosic physicality and individual choices of each unique performer at play.

See also: an earlier version of the work called Loop, Lull.

Against (2019)

Dance in Vancouver

With Kinesis somatheatro. Against is a multi-disciplinary work that combines dance, theatre, soundscape and live-video feed and looks at our perception of ‘normal’ through the lens of three “events” (each approximately 20 minutes in length, and presented by 3 dancers in a series of solos, duets and a trio). Against uses three verbs in pursuit of this artistic inquiry – Entrap, Detach, and Divide.

Vines Collaborative Soundscape Project (2019)

Vines Art Festival

With Elissa Hanson and the public. A communal sound art piece, where the public was invited to make field recordings on the day of the festival and contribute to a collaborative composition by editing and rearranging one another’s work. The resulting composition was posted online to Soundcloud. The project works against the tendency for field recording and environmental sound art to be a solo activity.

The Back-Body in Contemporary Performance (2019)

Performance Matters

When I read the call for papers for this special issue of Performance Matters, I was struck by the phrase “We approach the back in multiple senses.” Why, I wondered, is the back here construed as a passive surface, a sleeping creature on which we researchers do the sneaking up? By enacting what I call a “cheeky reversal,” this essay aims not to “approach the back in multiple senses” so much as to investigate the many senses in which backs and buttocks do the approaching.