Over recent months, I've been fortunate to have been involved in the creation of a partnership between Goldsmiths, University of London (where I am currently completing my PhD) and 'Longplayer', a beautiful work by Jem Finer that currently finds physical presence at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London.
A memorandum of understanding has recently been publicly announced, which will be the start of many exploratory projects surrounding the ideas that underpin the piece, and its longterm preservation.
Rufen bis zur Erschöpfung
Le Blanc-Mesnil, France 1972; Saarbrücken, Germany 1973
Performance without public.
In a barren area of the construction sites of the future Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Autoroute du Nord highway, Gerz stands sixty meters away from the video camera. He calls out the word “hello" as loud as he can. At first, his voice carries well then, gradually, the gesture begins to take the place of the fading voice. After eigheen minutes his voice is inaudible.
Object: video camera, microphone, tripod, Duration 18 minutes; video bw, sound. Cameraman: Jan Herman. Recorded with a 1/4-inch Akai video camera (Blanc-Mesnil) and Saar TV ARD (Saarbrücken).
“Crier jusqu’à l’épuisement is a duel between the artist, the “original", and the mechanism, the medium of reproduction. The issue of deterioration of the original with regard to time is a recurrent theme in Gerz’s work. Set in front of the camera, whose potential for resistance is greater than that of a human being, the “I" is depicted by its physical limits. The dialectic between the individual and the machine comes up again in Exhibition of Jochen Gerz next to his photographic reproduction (1972): after standing next to a photograph of himself for two hours, the image ends up taking the place of the original. However, the outcome is not always unfavourable to the living being in this dependency-hate relationship between the artist and the machine: in La Fumée, a work made in 1970, Jochen Gerz takes photographs of a smoking factory chimney as often and rapidly as possible until, after 196 pictures, the camera jams."
In: Jochen Gerz, In Case we Meet, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2002 pp.34-35. Catalogue of the exhibition: Jochen Gerz Temps détournés – Vidéo et internet dans l’oeuvre, 1969-2002; Centre Pompidou, Paris 2002
The exhibition opens on 28th March and remains on view until 3rd April. It presents issue 2 as both unbound sheets and a bound publication, and is accompanied by a soundscape of field recordings made by Daphne Oram in Trinidad & Tobago and compiled by James Bulley. This latest issue of BFTK features contributions from (in order of appearance) Ryan Gerald Nelson, James Bulley, Daphne Oram, Céline Condorelli, James Langdon, Scandinavian Institute for Computation Vandalism, Mark Simmonds, Dave Whelan, Flights and Fissures, Ron Hunt, and Rose Gridneff. And includes pieces on, among other things, the sound-film work of Daphne Oram and Geoffrey Jones; monuments to Kazimir Malevich, Rosa Luxemburg and Walter Benjamin; the relocation of a defunct bookshop from Amsterdam to Epsom; a conversation on the politics of display and ‘Agatha Christie smoking Asger Jorn’s cigar’.
Copies of BFTK#2 are available for a limited preorder price (£10 standard edition / £12 with limited edition signature-wrap print / £18 combo: BFTK#1 + #2) through the website up until the beginning of April. On the night, copies will be on sale for £10.
The first and only group exhibition was held in 1934 accompanied by a book Unit One, subtitled The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture. It consisted of statements by all the artists in the group, photographs of their work, and an introduction by the critic and poet Herbert Read, who was an important champion of modernism in Britain. The other artists involved were John Armstrong, John Bigge, Edward Burra, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Edward Wadsworth and the architects Welles Coates and Colin Lucas.
'The Diving Stage' (1928)
'Battle of Germany' (1944)
"This work was commissioned by the WAAC in 1944 and was originally intended to depict a flying bomb. In a letter to Clare Neilson on 5 September 1944, Nash described that 'K. Clark wanted me to do a sequel to 'Battle of Britain' on the flying bomb but it has fallen through I think. I did not find any point of departure, no bomb site as it were to launch into a composition. Besides I can think of nothing but my invasion painting which is now in its critical stage.' The 'invasion painting' is probably 'Battle of Germany' which was delivered to the WAAC in September 1944.Nash wrote a text to accompany the painting: '...The moment of the picture is when the city, lying under the uncertain light of the moon, awaits the blow at its heart. In the background, a gigantic column of smoke arises from the recent destruction of an outlying factory which is still fiercely burning. These two objects pillar and moon seem to threaten the city no less than the flights of bombers even now towering in the red sky. The moon's illumination reveals the form of the city but with the smoke pillar's increasing height and width, throws also its largening shadow nearer and nearer. In contrast to the suspense of the waiting city under the quiet though baleful moon, the other half of the picture shows the opening of the bombardment. The entire area of sky and background and part of the middle distance are violently agitated. Here forms are used quite arbitrarily and colours by a kind of chromatic percussion with one purpose, to suggest explosion and detonation. In the central foreground the group of floating discs descending may be a part of a flight of paratroops or the crews of aircraft forced to bale out.'"
In December 1845, Joseph Faber exhibited his "Wonderful Talking Machine" at the Musical Fund Hall in Philadelphia. This machine, as recently described by writer David Lindsay, consisted of a bizarre-looking talking head that spoke in a "weird, ghostly monotone" as Faber manipulated it with foot pedals and a keyboard.
Just prior to this public exhibition, Joseph Henry visited Faber's workshop to witness a private
demonstration. Henry's friend and fellow scientist, Robert M. Patterson, had tried to drum up financial support for Faber, a beleaguered German immigrant struggling to earn a living and
learn how to speak English. Henry, who was often asked to distinguish fraudulent from
genuine inventions, agreed to go with Patterson to look at the machine. If an act of
ventriloquism was at work, he was sure to detect it.
Instead of a hoax, which he had suspected, Henry found a "wonderful invention" with a
variety of potential applications. "I have seen the speaking figure of Mr. Wheatstone of
London," Henry wrote in a letter to a former student, "but it cannot be compared with
this which instead of uttering a few words is capable of speaking whole sentences
composed of any words what ever."
Henry observed that sixteen levers or keys "like those of a piano" projected sixteen
elementary sounds by which "every word in all European languages can be distinctly
produced." A seventeenth key opened and closed the equivalent of the glottis, an
aperture between the vocal cords. "The plan of the machine is the same as that of the
human organs of speech, the several parts being worked by strings and levers instead
of tendons and muscles."
I'll be speaking about Tactus at the Crafts Council's 'Make:Shift' conference at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester next week.
More information here: http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/makeshift/
I've been recording in Holy Mountain studios in Hackney recently, and been pretty blown away by the results. Misha Hering, who runs it, has an unbelievable and unique array of equipment, and a great sounding live room (as well as being a wonderful human being) - check it out here, it's a pretty incredible place. Here's a photo from a recent session – pictured are the Prophet T8, Moog Modular and Moog Voyager.
Audio recordings from 'A Concert of Sound Arts' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 18:30—21:30, 9 May 2013.
"The success of the performance at St John’s Smith Square is palpable, and Feshareki and Bulley’s achievement is huge, but whether ‘Still Point’ becomes canonical is anyone’s guess. The material is certainly there – the duo have been meticulous in their documentation, collating notation, Oram’s and Davies’ writing and orchestral instruction onto a single score – but it remains singular, without clear successors. The muffled, hypnagogic records of Indignant Senility or The Caretaker might be the closest in actual sound, but certainly not in spirit. Both have incorporated repurposed and anaesthetised classical passages in their music – Wagner for the former, myriad Romantic piano pieces for the latter – but these are used for textural and nostalgic effect. Oram’s score, on the other hand, was entirely original, and her specific manipulations tied into a loftier artistic ethos.
But the mere recognition of the piece feels just as crucial. Oram must have felt intense frustration in 1949, knowing that she had produced a radical work. It predated both the concrète proto-sampling of Schaeffer and Pierre Henry (of whom Oram was vaguely aware at the time) and the purer electronics of Stockhausen and the Cologne School (of whom she was not) in its use of sampling, recording and electronic manipulation. In Britain, where Benjamin Britten and Vaughan Williams represented the apex of experimentation, Oram’s leaps of ambition were especially unprecedented."
The full article can be read here