CHArt Twenty Third Annual Conference
Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

Museums, galleries, archives, libraries and media organisations such as publishers and film and broadcast companies, have traditionally mediated and controlled access to cultural resources and knowledge. What is the future of such ‘top-down’ institutions in the age of ‘bottom-up’ access to knowledge and cultural artifacts through Web 2:0 technologies. Will such institutions respond to this threat to their cultural hegemony by resistance or adaptation? How can a museum or a gallery or, for that matter, a broadcasting company, appeal to an audience which has unprecedented access to cultural resources? How can institutions predicated on a cultural economy of scarcity compete in an emerging state of cultural abundance? The twenty-third CHArt conference will reflect upon these issues.

Essay Shortlisted for the 3D Visualisation in the Arts Network Student Award 2007

Welcome to the ICMC 07. This is the entrance to the Huset venue where the film program, installations and informal evening concerts were presented.

ICMC Poster Session: Co-presenters demo’ing their own projects. The nature of the shared space was good in as much as it allowed you to engage with the other people’s work, the negative aspects were due to the bleed of sound from one table to another, and the lack of relevance of one work to another. A classic sound art conundrum.

The poster presentations are great forums for demostrating your ideas, and opening up your work to an informed and tech savvy group of international practitioners. We hear sound artist Ellen Moffat adding a few comments about the proceedings.

Cathy Lane introducing the Sound Art and Design Department of LCC in the session of studio reports. LCC came across very well in comparison to the other schools being presented (including Sound and Media Studios at London Metropolitan University, SCRIME at University of Bordeaux, CNMAT at Berkeley, CCRMA at Stanford, and Hanyang University, Korea (presented by Richard Dudas) .

Cathy introduces the specialist areas of the School of Sound Art & Design at the London College of Communication and explains the context.

Cathy discussing the department’s interest in Sound and the Environment with particular regard to field recording and phonography practices.

Cathy outlines CRiSAP’s future plans.

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.

A presentation at the Art of Immersive Soundscapes Conference, University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

I also participated in the Creative Forum studying with some of Canada’s most innovative composers, acoustic designers and audio artists:

Darren Copeland (Toronto): Independent audio artist and Director of New Adventures in Sound Art, Toronto.
Dr. Christos Hatzis (University of Toronto): Distinguished multi-award-winning composer, whose music utilizes multimedia and sound art.
Stephen Heimbecker (Montreal): independent audio artist, with exhibited installations in Europe and North America.
Ellen Moffat (Saskatoon): Independent audio artist, with sound installation presentations across Canada.
Gordon Monahan (Berlin): Independent audio artist, with exhibitions and performances across Europe and North America.
Barry Truax (Simon Fraser University): Internationally celebrated pioneer and teacher in audio art, technology, and electroacoustic composition.
Dr. Ellen Waterman (University of Guelph): Creative sound artist, music performer and improviser.
Hildegard Westerkamp (Vancouver), Independent audio artist, former faculty member at Simon Fraser University, with exhibitions world-wide.

Open Form Festival of Indeterminate Music
March 10th – 13th March 2007
Realisation of Cornelius Cardew’s ‘Treatise’ (page 47)
By Adam Asnan & J_Milo Taylor
London College of Communication

At the time of writing Treatise, Cardew was also exploring the possibilities outlined by free improvisation as typified by the group AMM who were in the process of moving towards ‘sound’ rather than ‘music’. This double articulation of Cardew’s practice, spontaneous improvisation embodied in real-time human interaction, coupled with a rejection of this in favor of notation has informed our approach to the work.

My vector into Treatise is situated in our practices as a sound artists, rather than improvising musicians, although we both improvise regularly as part of David Toop’s Laptop Orchestra. An early concept to transform the score into a map for ‘prepared’ guitar was quickly rejected but the concept of transformation was kept, and carried through to this current iteration of our response. While we were developing our work, it quickly became clear that Adam’s strategy was to be a highly formalized deconstruction of Cardew’s graphic score. It was less an interpretation, more of an extreme re-mapping of the possibilities imagined by the composer.

This in turn, prompted me towards a more direct intervention, into the work, my own practice and into reality. I re-imagined my role and decided to embark upon a process of de/re-constructing the score, and transforming it into a sculptural sound object; this object would be definitively derived from the score, limit my choices in performance, whilst facilitating these choices. Score as object, or score as instrument, a kind of physical embodiment of an originally abstract intention.

P-47 Misery Box: Sample 1

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P-47 Misery Box: Sample 2

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P-47 Misery Box: Sample 3

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P-47 Misery Box: Sample 4

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It is my feeling, that although respectful of Cardew’s intentions, we are also aware of our own situatedness, and the possibilities of articulating an alternative discourse removed from the rarefied ambience of the music academy. Our work, while a radical de/construction of the score, would, we hope, sit well with Cardew’s broader social and political aims.

The piece was presented in the Royal Academy of Music, Oslo in a workshop led by Christian Wolff.

This work of dedicated to the Cardew’s memory, with the hope he would have enjoyed our response and to Siri, Lena, Else and everyone who have been so welcoming to us during our time in Oslo. Takk.

Belmont Cinema bar, Aberdeen

Male voice,”I gave all that up”.

“Crap money”

The conference ended. People went off to get their flights. As an aside, a screening of the HERNoise film was announced. Few of the conference people made it down to the Belmont cinema.

playback > > Gentle exploratory sax improvisations.

Young men who were assisting in the conference, as technicians, welcoming participants etc are hanging out and chatting. A duo plays, reverbed out guitars with analog synth textures; a ten minute improvisation.

Male voice,” I wrote a song last week. From start to finish”.

playback > > Atonal punk guitars.

Male voice, “…Transylvania conquerors…”

“…live…” (Scottish accent).

This is not sound art. An independent cinema bar room. I go outside to smoke and chat to a fireman. Some talk about a collaboration with a member of the Canadian collective ‘Godspeed, You Black Emperor’.

Before coming here to the Belmont, I has an extended conversation with Jonty Harrison, which meant I missed the film screening. He feels ostracised by music, in the academic sense, and as if acousmatic music is being misappropriated by new media, pushing it into places he does not want it to go.

Male voice,”Do you know Angels of Light?”

After talking to Harrison, a short conversation with Dugal McKinnon who gave the presentation on vinyl. He does not own any, nor has he ever listened to music on vinyl. He comes from a background in ‘ants on a page’ composition.

Here, now, a single bearded, intense young man, on his knees, upon the floor, is creating a low distorted drone, somehow with a harmonica. The same model of Behringer desks that were present in the ‘academy’ during the conference are being used her, but attached to a string of guitar pedals. Delay, reverb, distortion. No granular synthesis here. A beautiful listening experience, a long way from the completed objects of Stollery, Harrison et al. Yet…

With a mouth harp, the tones pulse and build.

I think of tall trees, or a view over water. Breath as source, non-linguistics modulated by circuitry. The audience sits close – to performer, to each other. Active, eyes open. A small JVC camera records the action. There are framed pictures on the wall. A mono line of kazoo maintains spaced out beauty.

Neither high art or low.

But in-between. Less a blurring, more a contingent demarcation of personal experience.

Buzzzzz. Ice machine turns itself on.

The performer riffs against this. He is active in his spatial listening.

The magic has been broken.

I consider the body as the site of both oppression and agency. I feel totally alone in this town, yet sound has continued to connect me to a rich experiential sequence of intersecting aesthetic moments, punctuated by long periods of utter banality.

The acoustic, unamplified voice of the performer, a few moments ago an awkward disruption of the circuit-based abstracted beauty, now takes on its own meaning.

The entire audience is male.

“Walking through the sights” (sung)

In fact there are two women, both with partners.

“Walking through the skies on my bike”. (sung)

“Cheers. Thanks”.

“Sigh”. From behind me.

The people here are active listeners. Well lit. Serious. Joking. Present. Young and old.

This is not academic music, is it? Is this then low? Fuck you.

Active state, undissipated. For this instant.
I feel no pain. For this instant.

Beating tones eternal. Electricity. Shifting slabs and delicate colours. I sense 600 years of change from summer to autumn, winter to spring.

In its way, this performance modifies what might be possible to hear, and see, in such a place as this. It sounds like part of here. It does not sound like apart from here. It does not sound like apart from hear.
The manager is counting coins from behind the bar.

Low grade Celestion speakers with appropriate sound streaming through them in situ.

Still the bar manager, oblivious, continues to count the silver.

Electricity from the performer, studied engagement. My view of him is blocked by a pillar, which in some ways, I am grateful for.

Just sound, no gesture, no source, no human, just sound.

“This is a semi-virtual environment, later to be made available as an archive”. (male voice).

“How does sound art relate to the audience?” (The first question from the floor).

Kubisch is the first to respond to this. She discusses the audience experience of sound installations, and relates to her own experience of the works shown here, with a particular regard to the work shown by Giancarlo Toniutti, perhaps the most successful of the installations shown during the conference. In experiencing this work, she found herself lying down, in order to filter out the visual from the auditory, in what was a difficult space in which to present work. It seems important to her that sound installations are not exhibited as objects to sit down in front of and to watch. Toniutti joins the discussion with his conception of a ‘sound-site’, an immersive space to enter, intentionally distanced from a dialectical occularity. For him, the ideal environment in which to place work is ‘open and public’ and he is critical of the other installations which repeated unreconstructed visual codes of theatre/film.

The acousmatic composers enter the discussion with Harrison relating the question to the process of composition, where he assumes the role of the audience. He relates his listening during composition, his listening during performance; in public diffusion of his works, he is situated within the audience, embedded within their auditory field. For Stollery, composition is only complete when performed in public.

Keith Rowe, from the perspective of an improvising musician stresses the emotional nature of the relationship. He senses the psychology of the audience, and notes that this is crucial to what an improviser is able to due in a given situation. For Rowe, all performance is site-specific, as every moment is unique.
“In the room is everything”.

Kubisch responds to this with a comment about the visual aspects of site and evokes notions of sensitivity to place and of atmosphere.

It is interesting to hear Rowe articulate his concerns, as the performance he was part of yesterday, I found to be emotionless, self indulgent, tedious and one dimensional. For all his hyperbole about sensitivity to space, context and audience psychology, in no way were any of these in evidence in his so-called performance. He was so involved in his particular processes, in this case running a battery powered fan, that he seemed generally oblivious to not only the audience, and the space, but also to the intention of his improvising collaborators. He is not solely responsible for this, Mehta too, appeared so involved in what he finds an exciting deconstruction of his instrument, that his elephantine trumpeting into the corners of the room, left the world class musician de Saram floundering. I am sure Rowe has a justification in his interest in battery powered fans, there is without doubt some novelty value in playing a guitar with one, but if this fascination with object takes precedence over the necessary dynamics of tone, gesture and interpersonal action and reaction, then where are his strategies leading us?

Second question from the audience – “I feel titles are important in placing the audience in the work, but they also limit possible readings. What does the panel think about this?”

Kubisch: “I think it would be great not to have titles. It’s just pragmatics”.

Rowe: “ Performances don’t have titles, CDs do. For example “Hqrsch” a CD release came from a live recording. I listened to the recording 40-50 times until the title appeared”.

Relation to the experiential ‘what is in front of you’ of work

Kubisch – installation. The space can be the subject, to some extent, of the work.

Peformance as ritual. Applause at the end, reassuring. You know what to expect. Installation cannot be anticipated, and her work is open to may different interactions. For example with her water underground work and old lady, quite normal, would come everyday, lay down and listen to a particular sound.

What is the duration of performance? It begins and ends with a long continuum which can extend for months before and after the actual show.

Rowe, Zen archery example. You must know a process so intimately that you cannot make a mistake. There is no such thing as chance.

Tonuitti – disagress, there is always the accidental. In his installation the low frequencies were vibrating the room – unitended, but interesting.

Final question from audience: ”What do you take away from the conference?”

“some money”.
“some experience”
Tonuitti: “relations”
“receiving new ideas”.

Kubisch: ”Time out to connect parts of my brain. I got some ideas for some new work”.

Rowe:” I’m not going to know for a long time. There’s something there though. I’m in two minds about such places as this, either to tear them all down, or that these should be the most revered places in society”

Stollery: ”Pride at being able to attract such high calibre musicians and sound artists to our little town”.

Harrison: ”Meeting people from different areas the same field. Some are on the high ground, some are on the other ground”.

Thompson: ”I would like to express my personal gratitude to everyone”.

A gift of a boxed tuning fork is presented to each of the panel members.


“Hi. In coming here, flying by aeroplane, you get a lovely view of fields. Wonderful stone walls, that look like they’ve taken centuries to build. I thought, “How civilised”. Now I’m going to talk about blurring the boundaries.”

“The challenge for us is to find some way of working the in-between.”

She speaks clearly. Her musical training left her alone when confronting sound art. She introduces her central theme, that of ‘ ecriture feminine, a French post-structuralists project that speaks of ‘writing the female body’, and proposes an approach to writing informed by fluidity, fragmentation, and joissance, which are, it is argued, embodied in, and by the female body. It was a refusal to comply with existing forms of writing; Joyce traces this trajectory of nascent post-structuralism in the early 1970s, and joins this with moves within musical discourse away from the formalisms of serialism, a reshaping of discourse demarcated by the contrasting strategies of Boulez and Cage. The French feminists proposed a new way of reading, an approach that would preserve the essence of the strangeness of each text.

“There are as many ways of reading a text as there are readers”.

Joyce moves on to introduce the work of Maryanne Amacher, and plays us an except from ‘Head Rhythm 1’. She provides us with a projection of the wave form.

playback > >

“We have to play this loud to get the    effect she’s looking for”.

Some people put their fingers in their ears.

“Now I’ll skip to the middle part”.

My ears begin to emit sounds as much as taking sounds in.

Joyce then provides a strong formal analysis of the composition’s structure.

“Boy, I sure read this paper faster at home, than I am here”.

She relates Amacher’s work to that of the Feminist post-structuralists, and argues that goal of ecriture feminine is not a masculine obsession with domination and consolidation, but a radically feminised agenda of dissemination. In regard to Amacher’s work, Joyce proposes that her work has no relation to the traditional high art score, nor to text. There is no report to dominate, and Amacher, by cutting into existing forms, she deconstructs them.

keywords: Terre Thaemlitz, Bob Ostertag – sound and gender, queer, trans

Kubsich “I found Maryanne’s work very loud, very vibrating. I went around with her at her recent installation (Berlin, Singhur Gallery?), there were sounds coming from places you can’t hear. At the install festival (get location, year) her performance was very visceral”.

Male voice, comment from audience, “I thought I was going to have a flashback, I thought I was going to be sick. It was great”.

Kubisch,”Yes it was beautiful, but terrifying”.

Extraction fans – low level cyclical whirrr.

playback > > Musak – AOR style audio backdrop centred upon coffee bar.

Coffee machine and clatter of cups, saucers, glassware. People are working here. Polish girls and Asian boys.
dOk / tink / Kling
Most people are silent.

Mother with small child,
“He’ll not be a moment…”

Male voice, “Freaks me out that…(Yorkshire accent)

Mother, “…certainly do…“,

Male voice, “Watching telly…and call Ian. This was the last time. I was in bed. Fucking hell. Then the next day…”

Fruit machines are silent from here, but their lights are flashing.

Distinctive click of a metal Zippo lighter from behind me.

Unidentified electronic pulse. 2 second duration.
Continued whirrr of extractors and coffee bar in background.

General atmosphere is quiet, calm, pensive, synthetic. Colour – light grey.

Mobile phone incoming message tone from woman at table 2 meters away.

Male voice, “It’s not worth it”. The Yorkies continue their chat.

Subsonics from engines outside the large rectangular windows penetrate the interior. Felt rather than heard.

Female flight announcer on public address system. A flight to Glasgow.

“…All other passengers remain seated. BMI wishes you a pleasant journey”.

Reasonable audio fidelity and diffusion. Clear, good frequency response.

Moog sound in musak track suggests possible merging with electronic tones of mobile phone tones.

From behind, new female voice, “…basically, she’s still waiting.”

Male voice, “She’s paranoid.”

Same female voice, “…you can still plough on. I hope it all works out.”

Same male voice, “It’ll never change.”

I am asked for a light.

Outside of the smokers’ area, a silenced TV gives news of Iraq violence, Lebanon Funerals and the Russian spy is dying.

playback > > Female flight announcer. Flight to Manchester.

“Business class passengers can board at their leisure”.

Her voice, too close to the mic pops and distorts on the ‘B’, ‘c’, ‘p’, and ‘b’. Pop shield required.

playback > > “Since you been gone…”

Swooshhhhhh swell of air conditioning.

(breath, sigh, and coffee machine).



playback > > Female flight announcer,”Thankyou for waiting.”

Through the large windows an aeroplane pulls in. No sound can be heard. Strangely dislocating.

Passengers have boarded the flights to Glasgow and Manchester. Ambient sound levels have fallen. The TV is now audible. I can hear the weather report from the widescreen display (BBC 24).

The blandly carpeted floor silences footsteps. I decide to leave the smokers’ area, and go towards the waiting area by the departure gate.