Last year the annual performance of Silence on Loan, was postponed by the ‘silent epidemic’ of COVID. In January, I had hoped to perform a socially distanced version, completely alone in the Winchester School of Art Library, where the publication is held – a lonely withdrawn silence, performed but unheard. But lockdown restrictions meant that visiting the library was not permitted and the annual performance had to be rescheduled, eventually taking place in August 2021 – coincidently in the same week as the publication of my essay Withdrawn from use: silence, listening and undoing, in the journal Organised Sound 26/2 (Cambridge University Press).
This year silence has been recalibrated, returning the annual performance to January so as to synchronise with the original month of publication and the inclusion of Silence on Loan into the Artists’ Books Special Collection at WSA in 2019. But this year’s performance is different to the previous three. In remembrance, perhaps, of the socially distanced, isolated performance which never occurred, the 2022 performance will take place behind the closed magnetic gates of WSA library 2.
On Monday 31st January, around 8:30 am, before the library opens and without visitors or audience, the unpaginated spiral slither of Silence on Loan, will be taken from the shelf and placed on the turntable platter. The unheard audio cassette that has documented every silent anniversary will be rewound. Last year’s silence will be simultaneously erased and recorded over with this. I will keep vigil as silence rotates, my ears defended from it: silence occurring with no one there to hear.
There is strictly no admittance to this performed anniversary of Silence of Loan. But you are invited to not listen with me. You may not listen wherever you are, at home, at work, alone or in company. You may also watch but not listen via a live muted Instagram broadcast at @sebastiane_hegarty
I am honoured and excited to have a new sound work included in Helicotrema X. On its tenth anniversary, the recorded audio festival takes place in Venice, with it’s long time partner and collaborator Palazzo Grassi/ Punta della Dogana, before moving to Prato hosted by Estuario, and concluding at Hangar in Barcelona – the first time the festival has taken place outside Italy.
third horizon, is a new soundscape based on field-recordings made during my covert residencies at the Lizard Wireless Telegraphy Station (where the first ‘over the horizon’ wireless transmission was received in 1901), Fog Signal Building on the edge of the shifting liminal spit of Dungeness, and my most recent occupation at Knowles Farm, Isle of Wight – once home to Marconi’s experimentation station from whence that original wireless signal was sent.
The horizon opens with the acoustic beacon of the Lizard Foghorn, sounding out place and providing a locational fix. As this signal begins a duet with the three-beep character of the Dungeness Foghorn, place begins to disperse and mingle. Travelling through air, place, time and substance, sound unveils a spectral landscape, where the geological chat of tapped pebbles, taps away at matter as it repeats Marconi’s Morse code test signal (the di-di-dit of the letter ‘s’). Rapping on the door of substance, this litho-telegraphy reveals and interrogates ]landscapes littered with the architectural revenants of listening and communication history: the hollow volumes of the Lizard Wireless Station, the abandoned echo of decommissioned radar rooms, the unearthed cold war shiver of a redacted subterranean nuclear listening station. of Marconi’s lost transmission mast. The apparition of all these ghostly raps associate with the aeolian hum of antenna, the oceanic loll of broken waves, and automatic morse of rain and loose wires. As the weather comes in and the rain comes down, the foghorns return, sounding a final lament and keeping an audible watch on the horizon as it closes and disappears. At Knowles Farm, the dance artist and maker, Julia Hall, taps out Marconi’s test signal on the hollowed concrete base of Marconi’s lost transmission mast. The apparition of all these ghostly raps associate with the aeolian hum of antenna, the oceanic loll of broken waves, and automatic morse of rain and loose wires. As the weather comes in and the rain comes down, the foghorns return, sounding a final lament and keeping an audible watch on the horizon as it closes and disappears.
Remains of the original Marconi transmission mast base at Knowles Farm, Isle of Wight
Throbbing Gristle at the Winchester Hat Fair (1976). Photo: Judith Blake
In August 1976 Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti performed as Throbbing Gristle at the Winchester Hat fair in Hampshire, England. Earlier that day, Genesis had been seen ‘preparing’ in the High Street outside Boots: ‘bandaging half a peach to his lower leg.’
Encircled by an audience of parents and their young daughters, the gig has been mythically ascribed to the creation of the song: WE HATE YOU (Little Girls). TG returned to Winchester a year later to perform at the Art School, a set which included A Nod and A Wank,Feeling Critical and (possibly) Dead Ed. Both performances were recorded as part of the TG 24 HOURS Cassette [suitcase] (1979).
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Winchester School of Art (WSA). In commemoration of this and in celebration of the TG performances and wider art college alternative music culture that provided a space for such experimental work to occur, artist and musician David Luff organised Art Throbs at The Railway Inn, Winchester: an evening of experimental music, film and happenings.
SluGristle Placards: David Luff
Formed partly [and partly formed] for the Art Throbs happening and in positive reply to the question: ‘Fancy being in a TG tribute band?’ Slug Pellets combine the found tapes, field-recordings and dissolving fossil fuzz of Sebastiane Hegarty with the home-made cardboard synth and mute coronet of David Luff. The Slugs (as they have yet to become known) pilfer their name from the early TG murder ballad, Slug Bait, performed live at The ICA and Nuffield Theatre (University of Southampton). Variations of the ‘song’ appear on the first [official] TG album, 2nd Annual Report (1977): an album described by Michael Bonner in Uncut as “a dystopian churn of smoke and asbestos dust.”
In discussions of how Slug Pellets might conspire to pay homage to TG, David and I agreed that we would not attempt to recreate specific ‘songs’, but rather respond to the form and content of the combined performances and our personal TG ghosts. Echoing TG’s use of found sound and dubious tapes, I searched through the spontaneous sound archive I had developed during my PhD at WSA. Many of these found sounds were recorded through the surveillance of a lapel microphone attached to a pocketed mini disc. Constently held in pause, my ear lay in wait, listening in and baited to record. The archive revealed a paranormal pallet of transient encounters, forgotten sounds and departed voices: the wet percussion of a library gutter, a crushed glass stroll through the acoustics of an abandoned meat packing [death] factory, the posthumous vocal acquaintance of Ron Purse, a much-loved local eccentric: recorded in 1998, Ron approaches [returns] pushing his pram. Seeing me he speaks briefly, then disappears without goodbye ‘home to bed’ and silence. Ron died in 2006. The apparition of these untreated field-recordings is mingled with the fizzle and whine of dissolving ammonites, the looped pulse of raindrop, engine hums and deceased answerphone messages. David worked in response to this soundscape, using his extensive engineering skills to build a hand cranked Intonarumori, utilising cardboard boxes, wire, paper and ply. This was accompanied by muted Coronet and modular tones chewed up through the Gristler.
At the very bottom of a set list that included The Ba and the Architects of Frome, the stage presence of Slug Pellets was industrial glam, with silver rain jackets (Ikea), mirror shades and the vibrant postiche of Genesis (Breyer) bobs. As a landscape for our TG homage I composed a film for projection: a [g]Litterbug of forgotten fragments found lurking in the memory of my iPhone library.
In keeping with early TG concerts the shell-less sound of Slug Pellets was introduced to the Art Throbs audience by way of a found cassette (a verbal warning from Adult Bedside Tapes: Gay Girls no.1). This was followed by a performed poem based on the group name: a synchronised spoken cut-up plagiarised from a rhyming dictionary, which produced a number of profound collisions: Snug / Pelmet, Tug / Helmet, Smug / Ferret.
Unfortunately no recordings of the concert are currently available, but the [dead] edits above are from the three sections of my soundscape before David overlaid his mute Coronet and rotated his cardboard intonarumori.
Genesis P-inOils: David Luff
It was with shock and sadness that one week after our performance at Art Throbs, we learned that Caresse & Genesse P-Orridge had announced that their father, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge had ‘dropped he/r body’ on the morning of Saturday March 14th, 2020.
TIme will see us
Time will free us
Time will be us
We are everywhere
Silence and weak signals live: part one  5:23 / mp3 / 2019
Silence and weak signals live: part two  5:28 / mp3 / 2019
Silence and weak signals live: part three  5:27 / mp3 / 2019
To mark the end of the exhibition of Various Silences at Winchester School of Art Library, I performed a short micro-FM transmission in Library 2. Silence and weak signals: for five poorly tuned radios, was accompanied by the live dissolve of a cretaceous ammonite, a dissolve that quietly released the fossilised air of ancient C02 into the atmospheric lull of library stacks. The performance begins with a damaged silence as I take Silence on Loan from the library shelf and drop the stylus into its groove. Tuning into the dead air between radio stations, I find silence and weak signals coming through the radios, whilst the tapping of the library shelves and architecture, calls substance into question and asks for a response from elsewhere.
Each day of the exhibition, a page of the erased found novel Red Silence: for the missing, was turned. As I removed the novel from the exhibition, the silent dust of language rubbed out and unsaid, remained on the cabinet floor.
rain choir: the St James Variation Live performance at St James Hatcham Gallery, Goldsmiths, University of London
On the 5th May I took part in a small concert as part of the opening of Sound / Place, an exhibition curated by Tom Tlalim & Sandra Kazlauskaite, at St James Hatcham Gallery, Goldsmiths, University of London. The concert, which included performances by Yiorgis Sakellario, Istishhad Hheva and John Garcia Rueda & Ella Jane New, took place in the Listening Box, also known as the Sonics Immersive Media Lab (SIML). The immersive qualities of this technological space seemed to share a concern with the manipulation of sound present in the architecture of the Cathedral. I am interested in how the performance of the choir offers an opportunity for a continual recomposition within the dynamics of another place. Each recital introduces variations of acoustics and pattern, producing a form of sonic palimpsest: a murmuration of rainfall.
rain Choir: the St James variation (edit) | mp3 | 2015
The St James variation of rain choir draws on the field-recordings of the original site-specific sound installation for the crypt of Winchester Cathedral. These recordings explored the acoustic qualities and rhythms of rainfall as it fell through the gutters of the building. The choir also included sounds created by dissolving fragments of the Cathedral walls in acid. Echoing the percussive qualities of rainfall and the effect of its polluted chemistry, this naive chemical reaction releases a Palaeolithic and audible air of effervescent CO2, from the fossilised skeletal remains which form the Limestone.
In his autobiography of sight loss, John M. Hull describes how the sound of rain, ‘throws a coloured blanket over previously invisible things; instead of an intermittent and thus fragmented world, the falling rain creates ‘a continuity of acoustic experience’. For Hull, rain reveals place, presenting ‘the fullness of an entire situation all at once, […] actually and now’. He continues: ‘If only rain could fall inside a room…’
The rain then falling inside St James sounded out place. The original voices of the choir and those coloured by the acoustic of the cathedral crypt were joined by a ‘live’ dissolve of limestone fragments from the crypt and walls of the Cathedral. In an arid, invisible downpour, the choir immersed the audience in the dynamics and architecture of the Listening Box: an acoustic rain simultaneously describing and being described by the present site of audition.
Sound Place continues until 13/05/15 at St James Hatcham gallery, Goldsmiths, University of London.