Location: London, Vienna, Edinburgh
Worktype: Improvisation Duo
Info: Collaboration with William Huckerby
Location: London, Vienna, Edinburgh
Worktype: Improvisation Duo
Info: Collaboration with William Huckerby
Lead Belly was born in Louisiana somewhere around 1888. Living the often violent life of an itinerate musician he found himself twice imprisoned for murder. In 1933 his reputation reached the Lomax family, who, after no small personal tragedy of their own, were traveling the Southern states, recording American work songs, ballads and blues in prisons, penitentiaries, and brothels. Moving around the country in their Ford sedan, John, and his sons John Jr. and Alan, set about recording such artists as Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters and Jelly Roll Morton. They came across Lead Belly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and with their state-of-the-art acetate disc recorder they cut several sides together over the next few months. They soon parted ways; Lead Belly to a fifteen year career as a solo artist, and the Lomax’s continuing their collection of folk musics for the archives of the Library of Congress, and the Works Progress Administration. Despite the difficult relationship between the academic Lomax’s and the hard-living blues artist, it is through this short-lived collaboration that Lead Belly’s work reached a wider audience, of which I count myself a part. My father, following a period of time working in the Caribbean after leaving school in 1964, had become interested in what was still at that time called ‘negro music’. A Presto vinyl record (PRE 689, 1965) containing a selection of Lead Belly’s early Lomax recordings, is one of the earliest artifacts of any kind that I remember from my childhood. For this project, I was interested in engaging with a populist folk tradition, in the hope such a strategy would enable me to think about electroacoustic composition in a new way. The sound material selected, was by necessity, lo-fidelity (A short promotional film made by Lomax and Lead Belly, found on YouTube). The surface noise in the piece, the glitches, and crackles, are inherent to the source material, and are intended to reference the sounds of old blues records, and to address issues of the value of distribution of heavily compressed audio on the internet, thought of here, as a repository of cultural memory. The piece was entirely constructed from Lead Belly’s voice and signature 12-string guitar.
Materials: Recorded Media (Stereo Audio)
My sense of disconnection from the people of Bad Ems as a consequence of language and the reverberant nature of the Kunstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral architecture. I was working in a disembodied and digital process, where, despite my actual presence in Bad Ems, much of my time was spent online and isolated from the real-world context around me. Although this time was highly productive I decided to counter such work with a piece intended to connect me more closely with the people and environment around me.
I had made the acquaintance of Rainer Hoffman, administrator of the Kunstlerhaus, a few days earlier, we had managed an interesting conversation, and I had noticed that he had difficulties with his hearing, and spends the day with hearing aids (specifics of this?). I myself was experiencing a restricted access to auditory world around me, due to the building’s sonic characteristics, and my own poor understanding of German. I had for a long time wanted to try a version of Alvin Lucier’s ‘I Am Sitting in a Room’ (1970) and so proposed a collaborative work to Rainer.
‘I am Sitting in a Room’ is one of Lucier’s most well known works, and he has always encouraged interpretations of the piece. It is a work based in a short piece of spoken text, originally spoken by Lucier himself. The complete text of this original version is presented below:
“I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of r-r-r-rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity nnnnnot so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to s-s-smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.”
This short piece of text explains the work quite succinctly, and the final work was originally presented as a forty minute recording. I asked Rainer to translate the text into German, and whether he would be prepared to have his voice recorded for the purposes of the piece. He was initially hesitant, selfconscious about the way he speaks German, saying that people often comment that he speaks his mother tongue in a strange way as a result of his hearing disability. When however I explained Lucier’s own problems with speech, and that his own experience would add to the work, he readily agreed. Rainer’s translation of Lucier is as follows:
“Ich sitze in einem Raum, der anders is als der Raum, in dem Sie sich gerade befinden. Ich nehme meine Sprechstimme auf und spiele sie ab, nehme sie auf und spiele sie ab, immer wieder – bis die Resonanzschwingungen des Raum sich selbst verstäken, so dass jede Ähnlichkeit mit dem Sprechen, auxer vielleicht mit dem Sprechrhythmus, ausgelöscht wird. Was Sie dann noch hören, sind die natürlichen Resonanzschwingungen des Raumes, gegliedert durch das Sprechen. Diese Handlung ist für mich weniger die Demonstration eines physikalischen Sachverhaltes, als vielmehr ein Weg, alle UnregelmäXigkeiten, die meine Sprache möglicherweise aufweist, zu glätten.”
The full iterative realisation of this work was carried out in the KHSB on the evening of 20th April 2008. The work is significantly different from Lucier’s, and the openness of his original intentions should be credited. My aims in attempting this work were met in the process of carrying out this work. I wanted a way to engage with the acoustic space of the KHSB, I needed some means of communication across a language barrier, I wanted to address my inability to speak or understand German and also to explore issues of authenticity with spoken German, interestingly fore grounded by Rainer’s inhibited access to the auditory. I would take this opportunity to thank Rainer for his participation in this work, and to hope that he enjoys listening to the transformation of his voice manifested by the acoustics of his daily place of work.
Year : 2008
Location : Germany
Worktype : Sound Installation
Materials : appropriated sculpture, digital recording, mp3 player, male to female conversation (failed)
Worktype: Light and Sound Installation
Materials: 12 P.C. speakers, 2 P.C micro sub-bass channels, plastic, water, kaospad, diodes.
Obstruction Placed: Position 1: (Distant from Art) (exterior)
Obstruction Placed: Position 2: (Approaching the Kunstlerhaus) (exterior)
Obstruction Placed: Position 3: (Inside the “Waterbugs” installation) (interior)
Obstruction Placed: Position 4: (Kunstlerhaus Downstrairs Hallway: In-between the “Waterbugs”, “Skype Glitch.voices (remodelled)” and “Dissolving Ghost Piano” installations) (interior)
Obstruction Placed: Position 5: (Kunstlerhaus Stairwell: Ground/First Floor: “Waterbugs” and “Dissolving Ghost Piano” installations audible) (interior)
Obstruction Placed: Position 6: (Kunstlerhaus First Floor) (interior)
Obstruction Placed: Position 7: (Kunstlerhaus Second Floor Stairwell – leading to open door to “Cat’s Cradle”) (liminal)
Obstruction Placed: Position 8: (Having Crossed the Border) (exterior)
Obstruction Placed: Position 9: Overlooking (Higher Up in the Wooded Hillside Listening Down and Around (exterior)
Materials: white cotton thread, interior, exterior and liminal space, 7 kitchen knives, 7 electric guitar strings, white spray paint,
Of the works created during the residency, ‘Cat’s Cradle’ is perhaps the most complex piece, and the hardest to describe, both in terms of process and in its final form. There are several strands of thought running through this piece, and is the most conceptual and non-sound related work I have created to date. The initial concept for the piece was a direct result of my being detained at the hands of the British Transport Police when leaving King’s Cross Eurostar. I was thinking of a way of evoking an idea of a journey, and a means of expressing obstacles placed in the way of the traveller. This idea came from the concrete experience, but took on a different meaning as I explored the KHSB.
An audio-visual redestructive performance by 7000dirhams (J Milo Taylor and Joel Cahen)
Worktype: Intermedia Performance
Materials: Super 8 projectors, slide projector, gasmasks, burning film, digital processing, text to speech, found records, cassettes, modified found slides.
Info: Destroy Athens Biennial
7000DH – Fukdapolis – Opening Theme (2007)
7000DH – Fukdapolis – Second Theme (2007)
The performance focuses on the regenerative aspect of destruction, understood as a process of mutation rather than a form of obliteration. It identifies cultural kitsch as a destructive element within a dematerializing process that creates a noise pool nurturing new patterns of identity and cultural production.
For this performance 7000dirhams has collated a small archive of this kitschified detritus in the form of archetypal melodies, folk and popular music, touristic memorabilia, live radio feeds, to create a rich sludge of source material.
The materials themselves (Super 8mm, souvenir slides and audio recordings), are cut into, burnt, degraded, looped and spliced with a savagery comparable to that embodied by their impoverished representations of a dynamic and living reality.
As such, the work attempts to address the gulf between the image of Athens as presented to the outside world, with that of the everyday, as experienced by Athenians themselves. It therefore presents an environment of plowed structures and splintered forms of Greek culture as filtered by the eyes and ears of two hapless fools from London.
1st Athens Biennial – ‘Destroy Athens’. Public Opening: September 10, 2007. Technopolis, Gazi
Exhibition & Live entrance: 10 euros. 9pm.
Destroy Athens – Live is a reflection on processes of music & sound production within a visual arts ‘Biennial’ setting. Resisting the notion of ‘art-bands’, Destroy Athens – Live aims instead to describe a phenomenon: that of practitioners operating within different genres (media artists, musicians, film-makes, writers, designers, comic book & soft-toy makers, circuit benders etc) engaging in collaborations, collectives & media experiments that have diverse musical outputs.
From experimental politicised avant-pop commentary, to hip-hop jazz electronica improvisations, to real-time deconstruction & amplification of media, these acts all maintain a commitment to immediacy & non-virtuosity.
The Live part of the public opening engages the Biennial’s theme & purpose (‘Destroy Athens’), by treating Athens as a signal source to be sampled, tweaked with, looped, filtered, commented on and jammed along to. Through the use of on-site found & recorded sound & image, real-time local radio broadcasting interventions, and sonic-surgical media operations, the performers offer a response to context as they find it. Such a grounding for free & open improvisation is a platform for testing their own ignorance of so many aspects of the signal source – cultural, linguistic, historical, while drawing parallels with their own experiences as inhabitants of London, a multi-branded city.
Artists: Antifamily, Infinite Livez vs DJ Tendraw, 7000 Dirhams
Curator: Chloe Vaitsou
Occasional Solo Outings | Solo Expanded Guitar | Acoustic | Electric | Electronic |
| Heroes | Antiheros | Zeros |
john fahey, robert johnson, christian fennesz, godspeed you black emporer, animal collective, ry cooder , woody guthrie, leadbelly, richard thompson, nick drake, skip spence, 6 organs of admittance, sunburned hand of the man, boris, sunn o)), pauline oliveros, hidegarde westekamp, halim el dabh, nas al ghiwane, yellow swans, lee ranaldo, glenn branca, django reinhardt, scott joplin, sir richard bishop, james blackshaw, bert jansch, tom rush, karen dalton, explosions in the sky, lemchaheb, jil jilala, low, modest mouse, blind lemon jefferson, mississippi john hurt, buster keaton, brothers quay, david lynch, jan svankmier, lumiere brothers, henry miller, ben okri, marquis de sade
Some Past Gigs
August 8th 2007 @ Songbird, Visions Bar, Dalston
August 18th 2007 @ Plac.Art.X, Regensburg, Germany
February 22nd 2008 @ Scaledown, Soho, London
I had arrived a day early for the Art of Immersive Soundscapes Forum. 8 hours by Greyhound from Winnipeg airport across flat rolling endless prairie. The Empire Hotel. The cheapest place in town. Next door to the liquor store. The room was $25 a night. It hadn’t been changed in 25 years. Everything run down, and battered. A Friday night. Alone in the prairies. I locked myself into my room. I scanned the FM radio frequency to search for company.