Residency SoundFjord 12-18 November 2012
Day x: 18.12.12
Thanks to all who came to the performance in November and left their most interesting comments, from suggestion of extending the performance to a planetarium to creating live drawings with a data glove. I am working on it! For now I have made some documentation videos of the project. No 1 is a video using a stereo room audio recording from the live 4-channel performance, No 2 is a stereo version from a practice session earlier that week.
No 1. Performance 18. November 2012
No 2. Practice session November 2012
There also are a few photos available on facebook. For those of you without access, here is a small selection, with thanks to Kevin Hewick and Helen Frosi:
Day seven: 18.11.12
12noon: Today I won’t be chatting much. It’s the last day at SoundFjord and people are due at 3pm to hear/see what I have been up to. It’s a lovely, sunny day
Day six: 17.11.12
11am: I keep coming back to Kandinsky, who, “suffering” from synaesthesia, embodied the connection of sound and vision. In a review of his Tate Modern exhibition in 2006 the Telegraph called him “The man who heard his paintbox hiss”, and black is the silence of the body after death. Drawing, for him, begins with a point, which is invisible, incorporeal and therefore silent (which must be, I figure, a silence that is not linked to death but to the body before birth…). Interesting for me is that Kandinsky then connects drawing to the voice, through speech (Wassily Kandinsky . Point and Line to Plane, Dover Fine Art). I don’t have synaesthesia, but I do “see” compositions as a basic grid like spaces (I might have watched Tron too may times when younger….), with sound unfolding in 3D – not unlike these films it occurs to me. So, very basically speaking, pop music for example operates on the “front” plane, with not much happening in the regions lying further back, and much of experimental music operates on a place that is tipped backwards, so all activity is further “back”. Has implications on aural expectations I guess.
Also, the Guggenheim museum has a nice online collection of his work online at http://www.guggenheim.org .
2pm: It’s actually bloody difficult to do this live, as I keep getting pulled into Max, rather than responding to images. I guess, the “film” had an exploring phase (drawing), and an edit phase (slides), which on the sound side of things I am trying to role into one, and in response to something else… I have tried various approaches – from no voice processing to lots of processing – all of which need a bit of time to develop and don’t easily fit into a prescribed length. Further things to do, playing with formats:
- make an installation, which has the advantage of editing;
- as a 5.1 film, dito;
- both formats could work as a trilogy with edits from the 2nd,3rd and a future version in which I would like to explore the earlier animation idea- this would explores different aspects of the idea;
- as another performance, this time with eye tracking!
Day five: 16.11.12
- Voice: Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media
- A History of Singing
- The Study of Ethnomusicology: Twenty-nine Issues and Concepts
- For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression
- A Voice and Nothing More
- Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound
- Dumbstruck – A Cultural History of Ventriloquism
Day four: 15.11.12
10am: Last night, over a glass of wine and an Indian takeaway, I thought a bit more about how the last few days. Seems I am getting fascinated by the drawing side of things, always an easy thing to do when incorporating new aspects into practice – discovering new worlds! Not always advisable though. However, it confirmed that this residency is not so much about a finished piece of work, but getting to grips with an idea, a recurring theme in my practice. Thanks, Helen, for creating the opportunity!
Anyway, the theme is as follows: For many years I have been puzzled why one “arm” of work – photography/images making – has been in a completely different world as the other, sound-making/music. It’s almost like there are two different people, Iris the visual mark-maker and Iris the sound maker. Obviously that is not the case, so, what connects this activity of drawing with that of using voice? Where do the two meet? The original idea of using eye tracking as a connected, whilst technically intriguing, seems a bit of a cop-out at this point, abdicating responsibility for the process. It seems I have to look a bit more into voice again: ” In reality … the voice lies at the heard of what it is to be human” (Anne Karpf . The Human Voice: The Story of a Remarkable Talent. London: Bloomsbury. p.3). And so perhaps the link is digital culture meets human expression??? But then again, what is expression and do I even like it?
Part of this connection, is also about how the piece works as a piece, and with that I am putting myself in the shoes of an audience. And whilst I am making it it’s an audience of one, myself. So now I need to triangulate: Iris the mark-maker, Iris the sound-maker, Iris the audience. But of of course neither of these 3 “individuals” is separate or unique entity, she shares concerns, tastes, habits with many others in the word, in her culture, in her cultural niche..
So, I have decided to do a little concert on Sunday too.
Day three: 14.11.12
10.30am: I am beginning the day looking for a good dentist – I have lost a crown last night. On a more interesting note, what is the attraction – at least for me – of working with basic tools? For creating the slideshows I am currently using iPhoto and I also open use Audacity as a wave editor. Perhaps it’s the focus this allows, preventing my dyslexic mind from following too many side-avenues. Anyway, I must find out more about visual patterns throughout the world, and aboriginal links between images and songs as maps. Also, found this interesting blog on permaculture and patterns: http://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.co.uk/2006/05/patterns-language-of-nature.html. And below are a few cave paintings that look relevant.
But now to making sounds.
4.30pm: Having said goodbye to my first visitors the afternoon progresses. Video is projected on the big screen and I am trying to respond to it in sound. Sounds easier than it actually is as I also have to keep track of what my laptop is doing with my voice. For that reason I am keeping it simple and using no processing on the voice, just a few loops picked out here and there. In keeping with earlier musings on limitations and restrictions there is no reverb or indeed any other pretty-fying VST. What’s puzzling: How to zoom into voice sounds? And why do I find such parallel applications image-sound at all interesting? I think tomorrow I need to go back to original thoughts and notes as to what I am after with this project. For now, here is an extract of today’s sound explorations:
Day two: 13.11.12
4pm: You just never know which way things go. Having spent the morning at my place to do some scanning – yesterday’s attempts didn’t quite work out – I end up zooming into the pictures rather than animating them. Why? Primarily just to get something going before looking at new software. Goes to show that too much planning and thinking ain’t worth the time. Or was that needed to get to this point??? We will never know… However, I am rather liking the way traces within traces are revealed, and might continue with that theme. It feels like entering the world inside markings made with a pen, morphed into a digital trace and looking like a amoeba/Tron-grid hybrid come Hubble universe view. Yum!
6.30pm: Below are some image sequences, tomorrow I will begin responding to them with sound. I am beginning to wonder how an amoeba/Tron-grid hybrid come Hubble universe view might sound like, although a literal sonic “illustration” of such scenes is not what I had in mind originally. But, I didn’t think the previous versions really gelled, it worked in places but not coherently. So however divergent from initial ideas, this is a practical way trying to figure how an image/sound – sound/image connection might work for me. I guess these zooms present an attempt to approximate movement as a gelling agent, without losing the link with still images. We’ll see. For now I am off to see some friends play at Horse now, and as I am performing with some of them at Utrophia on December 1st this should be doubly inspiring!
Day one: 12.11.12
11am. I’ve begun the day in true bag-lady style, laden with the usual complement of gadgets to see me through a week. Not fun to lag all that across London on public transport during rush-hour! And rushing people do…
Yesterday’s sun has been replaced by greyness and I require gallons of Longjing tea to get me going- worth it’s weight in gold that stuff! Grand plan for today: go over the previous versions and take it from there; scan in some of the new images too most likely. More later.
2pm: First decisions of the day:
- Images could do with some grouping/merging together before a black-out.
- I want to try some very minimal animation on at least some of the images. Moving lines, twitching eyebrows, that sort of thing. Ah, new things to learn! Found this free 2D software that might do the trick: Pencil.
Day zero: 11.11.12
2pm: Getting ready for tomorrow I venture outside, to Surrey Docks Farm, for some last minute ruminations on things to come, butternut squash tart and a coffee. It is a welcome interruption from re-designing my studio come office space and sourcing the right height white bookcases. At 2pm the sun is already low in the sky, streaming into the busy cafe space in a most attractive fashion.
I have a couple of books with me to help get into the mood and overcoming the usual blank-canvas hurdle: Sound, edited by Caleb Kelly, and Lines: A Brief History by Tim Ingold. The latter —sadly, as I like Ingold’s writing a lot— is less useful than anticipated, whilst the former catches my attention with a conversation between Michael Snow and Christian Marclay (ironically, being dyslexic, I spot a spelling mistake on the content page, where the good man is renamed into Marclary as I later discover…).
Anyway, the conversation touches on knowledge versus ignorance/innocence, a theme that has been drifting through my mind for a while now. Spending my teenage years around Hannover in Germany, where punk was still tremendously active (on my last visit I still spotted a tartan-bottomed, black-topped couple with dog in the pedestrianised area) I always felt that there was a point to lazyness and ignorance that is usually – ignored, please pardon the pun. Not that I can tell you exactly what that point is, but it is to do with freshness and directness, and keeping open a pathway to that space inside that does not get infiltrated by cultural conditioning. Saying that, the brain gets bored, and so knowledge has its own fascination.
But back to the blank canvas. Strictly speaking Traces in/of/with Sound is not even that. This residency covers the development of its 4th incarnation. Nevertheless, a big question is still unresolved, which, incidentally, also figured at an interview with Robin Rimbaud on Friday: How to really get at this information I am after, this nebulous thing called process, and how do I document it? For this reason I am opting for this navel gazing journal/blog, wouldn’t want to miss anything….