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Information Experience Design (MA)

Kate Milligan

Kate Milligan (b.1996) is a Western Australian composer, designer, and interdisciplinary researcher.

With a background in feminist musicology, her work critically examines the entanglement of social and natural phenomena. Fundamental to her practice is exploratory music notation, and the interrogation of audio-visual correlation through graphic, animated, and sculptural media. Her work is presented in a myriad of disciplinary contexts, from concert halls to galleries.

She has been commissioned by electro-acoustic ensembles across Australia and the UK. Her work has received support from APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre, as well as the Australia Council for the Arts. Recent work includes a performance-installation for the London Symphony Orchestra Soundhub, and a spin-system instrument presented at the IRCAM Forum for spatial sound.

Kate's study at the RCA is generously supported by the Schenberg Music Fellowship and the Ian Potter Cultural Trust. She holds a MMus (musicology) and a BA(Hons) (composition) from The University of Western Australia. Her writing on gender and aesthetics is published in both popular and academic contexts.

Degree Details

School of CommunicationInformation Experience Design (MA)RCA2023 at Battersea and Kensington

RCA Kensington, Darwin Building, Upper-ground floor

Headshot of Kate Milligan by Olivia Davies.

Headshot by Olivia Davies.

As bodies of water we leak and seethe, our borders always vulnerable to rupture and renegotiation… Water calls on us to give an account of our own (very human) politics of location, even as this situatedness will always swim beyond our masterful grip, finding confluence with other bodies and times.
- Astrida Neimanis.

Watery logic, leaky ideologies, fluid bodies. My work this year has drawn me to water—a medium, a topic, a method. 

What if the sea were a composer? Does water have memory? What does it remember? Can it be an archive? What of our past becomes saturated in the ocean, and what of it evaporates into deep cyclical time? All questions floating around in my mind.

Crossings is a work of sound design controlled by the restless English Channel. It is an unruly archive of human and non-human migration. You listen as you cross, and your experience of this work is determined by how kindly the ocean looks upon you that day.

Depth Sounding is a visual accompaniment to Crossings.

Visions | Vestiges is a performance-installation for three musicians and a watery crystal ball. Music-making is a sort of material alchemy. In this instance I add notation to water for the temporal secrets revealed.

Don’t hesitate to get in contact, I would love to hear from you.

Crossings examines cultures of passage on the English Channel/La Manche. It is a site-specific work of sound design that flows beyond international borders.

Spoken word and environmental field recordings mingle fluidly, evolving in real-time according to GPS location and the velocity of waves on the ocean’s surface. Crowd-sourced structured improvisations occasionally surface in the watery texture. The work aims to highlight the leakiness of public discourse around migration. 

This iteration of Crossings was filmed and recorded on June 14, 2023, on the ferry between Calais and Dover. The excerpt below is just a fraction of the full 90-minute duration. Wear headphones for best listening.

Musicians: Olivia Bartlett, Reece Clark, Louise Devenish, Michelle Hromin, Jack Jones, Jasmine Karimova, Lewis Mosley, Coby O’Brien, Jess Porter-Langson, Heather Roche, Thea Rossen, Jack Sirett, Brendan Talty, Jesse Vivante, Sam Weller, Saskia Willinge.

Videographer: Taïr Almor. Featured Musicians: Louise Devenish, Lewis Mosley, Sam Weller, Heather Roche, Jack Sirett, Reece Clark.
A photograph of Dover Port, captured on fieldwork.
A photograph of Dover Port, captured on fieldwork.
A photograph of Dover Port, captured on fieldwork.
Photography by Kate Milligan.
A photograph of Dover Port, captured on fieldwork.
Hydrophone recording at Dover Port.

Depth Sounding, a visual complement to Crossings, is an analysis of the public rhetoric around migration. The print combines a bathymetric map (ocean depth) of the English Channel/La Manche with an archive of transcribed discourse in English and French.

A digital design portraying the English Channel, the water comprising of massed text.
A digital design portraying the English Channel, the water comprising of massed text.
A digital design portraying the English Channel, the water comprising of massed text.


Flag—Digital Print on Fabric


183 x 91 cm

Vision (noun) c 1300 from Middle English visioun,'something seen in the imagination'.

Vestige (noun) c 1600 from French vestige, 'a mark, trace, or sign'.

Performance-installation for bass clarinet, cello, percussion, electronics, and sculpture (antique wood, handblown glass). Full duration: 17 minutes.


Visions | Vestiges is a meditation on time and materiality. Drawing on a ubiquitous visual metaphor for future-seeing, instrumentalists read music notation from a crystal ball in performance. The notation is warped through glass and water, and the temporal linearity of the musical stave is distorted.

The composition uses evolving, repetitive motives throughout the duration of the work, which gradually emerge and recede as if in a dense fog. The work questions how we might build our future vision from that which is already stored in our memory.

This project is part of broader research into objecthood and medium time, described by musicologist Georgina Born as "a temporality that... interferes technically, conceptually, and aesthetically with the musical temporalities at issue”. Do the objects we engage in music-making—notation included—act in and on time in their own right?

A chamber trio are arranged around a crystal-ball sculpture. A projection hovers above them, reflected off the arch windows.
A glowing crystal ball in enveloped in an antique music stand.
A chamber trio are arranged around a crystal-ball sculpture.
Photography by Kevin Leighton. Premiere performance at LSO St Luke's, April 15th, 2023. Musicians: Heather Roche (bass clarinet), Louise McMonagle (cello), Jacob Brown (percussion).

An Exercise in Trans-Temporal Invention:

This time is yours, for now.

In due course it will slip beyond your grasp—only vestiges will linger in your memory.

For the time being, hold it close, and let this music hold you.

Reach forward—really stretch.

Push against the present moment, and feel the dense future soften to the touch.

Feel it give—search beyond.

What have you found?

Your future is built from the bric-a-brac tucked away in the pockets of your memory. Things you thought were lost, perhaps, fallen through a hole worn over a lifetime.

Where have they been?

Bound in a secret manuscript, stored in the dark recesses of your mind under lock and key.

See how they assemble, shifting, recombining in your future vision.

Novelty is born from that which was once familiar.

Hold your invention, just for a moment.

Now let it go.


Performance-installation. Bass clarinet, cello, percussion, electronics, sculpture (antique wood, handblown glass). 17 minutes.

Schenberg Music Fellowship, Ian Potter Cultural Trust