Yesterday I tested three soundscapes for an event at the Theatre Royal Winchester. The event called Map Plot Plunder Possession will form the centerpiece for the 10 Days Across the City art festival.
My three soundscapes are extended versions from the winnall moors sound walk project; Winchester Cathedral; and an abstract ‘interval’ composed from sounds evoked by ‘playing’ the hanging rods of the lighting/screen system. The interval maintains the sequence and rhythm of the original ‘live’ recording, but the sounds have been layered and manipulated slightly, to create three variations on a theme, each interval separating the moors and Cathedral soundscapes. I also composed a sonic river, which will be running through the theatre public address system. The public address system provides a strange form of acousmatics, locating the sound whilst simultaneously suggesting a space beyond the visible. The system disperses the origin of the sound and creates different architectural pools and tributaries as the sound interacts with the acoustics of the space. The towering atrium space creates an immense reverberation chamber, which again hides the source of the sound, whilst in spite of the speakers actually being located at head height, suggests a waterfall of invisible rain pouring down upon our ears.
As with many of my other sound works I am interested in the problem of drawing from the sounds visually, in the form of a graphic score. As with my score for Yvon Bonenfant, the drawings are not intended to represent the sound as much as conjure up a method of translating sound into visual form, which allow others to reinterpret back into sound. Not being a musician and working with field-recording & phonography, I am using sounds that are not normally notated. However, I am interested in the synaesthetic dialogue between visual and aural material and the handing over of compositional control.
The graphic score for three soundscapes and a river, uses old Letraset and the process of tracing and following the mapped lines of rivers, which run through the moors and around the Cathedral. The compositional drawing unintentionally mimics the digital waveform pattern of the sounds.
If any musicians would be interested in interpreting these graphic scores, please get in touch.
The Frieze Art Fair does not only attract, artists, students, the worlds galletaria and Michael Stipe.
Flies seem also drawn to the contemporary art world. As you wander further behind the tent flaps of contemporary art, the number of flies grows, the white walled cubes turning into airports not only for dust but for Musca domestica. Unfortunately this rendezvous with art seems fatal to the regurgitating flaneur, more and more flies lying dead beneath the artworks. The cause of death could be critical exhaustion or intellectual starvation or perhaps they have died of pleasure, as they have sucumbed to the sublime. I photographed the sad unnoticed litter of their corporeal ghost.
One fly, photographed prior to exit, sat staring out at the horizon of being, considering existence and if art has a purpose beyond investment and the occasional takeaway from a rotting potatoe.
Went to Frieze on Friday and managed to find Carsten Nicolai at G7 (Galerie Eigen). Really liked the prints from his Grid Index and the glass stacks with random dots. Aptly, when I took a picture of the stacks you could see the grid of the Frieze tent reflected in the glass; strangely when I used the camera on my iPhone the ceiling fans slowed down as did the reflections of people passing.
I was tempted to buy one of the prints a snip at £800 Euro’s. Common sense overcame me and I departed Frieze with a DVD of John Cage Variations Vll as compensation. I also had a glimpse of Michael Stipe, who was looking ever so elegantly shy.
Some other highlights of Frieze included Ben Rivers (16mm film & shed); Roger Ackling (burning wood with a magnifying glass) & Amalia Pica’s very nice sculpture using string, potatoe & coke bottle (pic below).
Went to see Yvon Bonenfant perform Beacons at The Point, Eastleigh. Rather impressive. It was interesting how his voice became separated from his body, floating in or tearing apart the air surrounding him: reminiscent of the ectoplasm of clairvoyance. I have a thing for voice and it’s ghost.
I created a graphic score in response to Plague Mass by Diamanda Galas for Yvon’s Masz project. This was subsequently turned back into voice and sound by Yvon & Will Edmondes. Yvon then made a video for the sound, which used the fragile surfaces of my score as a visual texture. The video has been seleceted for MIX 2011 Queer Experimental Film Festival in New York.
Images from my score are available here.
I first saw Guy Sherwins’ 16mm films when I was a student of his, studying Fine Art at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the 1980’s. These were the last days of a liberal, experimental, non-modular, art curriculum: imagine an education without feedback forms or customer (nee student) surveys. The long list of visiting lecturers at Wolverhampton included artists from all disciplines, alongside writers, musicians and simply unclassifiable performance groups. To mention just a few from the impressive cast list that corrupted my formative years: Max Eastley; Ivor Cutler; Jo Spence; Fast Forward; David Critchley; Roger McGough (who marked my dissertation, generously granting it a first).
I consider myself fortunate to study at this time and to subsequently teach alongside Guy (and Paul Harrison of Wood & Harrison) at the University of Wolverhampton. Guy’s films and poetic investigation of time, film and perception, remain a vital influence on the development of my own practice.
The installations at Siobhan Davies Studios continue to question and impress. I was particularly interested in the Staircase projections, which reveal the choreography of stairs whilst disrupting the tacit anticipation of movement: the distinction between previous and present movement becoming less distinct, as people now ascending and descending the staircase make shadowy journeys through a layer of projected space covering the present situation. Such ghostlike presence is reflected in the architecture of the building, the flight of previous stairs remaining as visible scars upon the tiled walls intersecting the new staircase.
Tree Reflection #2 passes a single loop of film through two 16mm projectors: one running forward and one reverse. Guy had engineered a ‘common drive-shaft’ between the two projectors to ensure the speed of both projectors remains constant.
Having seen the film as part of Guy’s Short Film Series, I ashamedly ignored the projectors and stood fixated on the slow reflected progression of a coot moving across the surface of a canal and the simultaneous inverting of the film, which exchanges the landscape and its reflection. The flip, which echoes the visual inversion of eye & brain, occurs at such a slow rate, that it seems to sneak beneath the boundary of visual perception.
Guy watched me whilst I watched the film, when he pointed out that I was ignoring the projectors, I turned around and only then noticed the mirrored second projection on the wall behind me.
Beautiful films that simultaneously soak up my attention and make my head ache with thinking.
You can see one of Guy Sherwin’s films, with links to others and his perfomative collaborations with Lynn Loo here: Man With Mirror
I wrote an essay to accompany Guy’s first DVD Optical Sound Films 1971-2007. This can be bought from Lux, where a biography of Guy and video interview are also available.
Richard Serra drawings and notebooks in the catalogue of Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective. Wonderful thick black slabs of weight and mass that alter space. In the book he talks about an early memory of walking around a Californian shipyard, where his father worked:
‘”I remember walking the arc of the hull with my father”, the image is of movement experienced directly, bodily […] movement drawn along an impending mass […] movement directed by the weight of an environment. [Serra] recalled how the tanker “bounced into the sea, half submerged, to then raise and lift itself and find it’s balance…Not only had the tanker collected itself, but the witnessing crowd collected itself as the ship went through a transformation from an obdurate weight to a buoyant structure, free, afloat, and adrift.”‘
I’m currently working on soundscapes for the opening event of 10 Days Across the City festival, at the Royal Theatre, Winchester. I had a tour of backstage and even better, understage: this is the view from the orchestra pit. Spatz (the theatre’s chief technician) lowered all the stays that normally suspend lights and scenery over the stage and I attached contact microphones and ‘played’ them by rattling them and setting up gentle swinging patterns. I used the sounds captured to create a short metallic interval that will interrupt the two soundscapes broadcast into the auditorium on the evening of Halloween.