Friday, May 16, 2008

Report from the Field of 2007

Ah, what joy! It's that time of year when a thump at your letterbox announces the arrival of the latest Field Report - the annual journal of Mail Art group Field Study International.

This edition is the thirteenth and it does not disappoint, in fact this publication is growing in terms of energy, scope, media - and size! What was once a breakfast-sized meal is now a ten course feast - impossible to digest in one sitting.

Coincidentally, as one of my contributed pages was for Consemble, the theme of sound is also pursued in this Field Report by Martin Desloovere's Thaw to Melt tracks (with link to 'ode to communicage') and the man from icons's binaural recordings of journeys to and from the BMC gallery, Brighton (these being provided on the Report's first audio CD).

There is a sense of maturity here as well - of Mail Art having grown up - and, on its own terms become more articulate and sophisticated. That's not to say that there isn't the place for intermittent idiot glee or the occasional anarchic acid slash - but the thing that strikes me is the sense of community (or communities) here, that the politics of Mail Art has lead it into people's lives in areas that Art, with the exception of music, rarely reach.

Although the Report is the work of many contributors, it is assembled with integrity and great care by David Dellafiora, maƮtre d' of Field Study - and so many thanks to him from myself and fellow Studyiers.

(above 2 images by the Sticker Dude,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

...Strikes Again

I have recently been redesigning the Fine Art website and have placed some images from the current Second Year show online:

2nd Year Fine Art exhibition
10th-17th May 2008
opening times: 10am-4pm
venue: New Cooperage Building,
Royal William Yard,
Plymouth, Devon

Faculty of Arts * University of Plymouth

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Park and Record

Yesterday, after doing my Saturday shop at the supermarket, I unexpectedly came across an event in local Pinces park organised by Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). The weather was glorious, cream teas were on sale and it was good to see the park filled with people - a real community event. There was a Global Gardeners Touring Exhibition featured, with stalls and free-standing posters, and entertainment was provided courtesy of Wren Music. This event also sought to promote the website which features a 'living history of the area West of the Exe' and has a space for members to add their own material documenting their lives in Exeter.

I returned to the park with my minidisc 'hoover' and gathered recordings for half and hour or so really enjoying what felt like my first real taste of Summer. The sounds of children, birds, folk music and ocassional overhead 'planes was a rich mix.

Today (Sunday) I digitised these recordings and made some summer Sons which I placed in Consemble A and Consemble C. Have a listen?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cathedrals of Hiss/New Online Studio

It's Bank Holiday Monday and a good time to blog. I've had a recent period of unwellness and been somewhat detoured from working on Inlets' Daughter but have found myself engaged on two different projects...

I was recently sifting through some old cassettes of music I had recorded over the past 25 years or so with the vague idea of digitising some of them to place on my new website (see 2). One of them stood out from the rest for a couple of reasons: it was uncharacteristically very badly recorded*, with lots of hissss but it also stayed with me, wanting to play it again and again.

This cassette was labelled '4 Point Paint' which was an improvised gtr duo I formed with Robin Watts in Southampton in the early '80s. The name comes from the fact that we commissioned to be made (from a local electronics firm) a signal splitter which allowed us to output our guitars to four seperate amps. Across some of these connections we placed effects pedals (phasers, flangers etc.) so that we created a kind of surround sound - when such things were uncommon.

It would be true to say that we never really developed the system or even played live as much as we might but this was a colourful time when Robin and I were in several bands and had other commitments.

We played a handful of venues including (from memory):
• Southampton University Concourse,
• Southampton Civic Centre
• The Deannery Annexe, Southampton (twice, I think),
• City Centre, Above Bar, Southampton (near the art gallery),
• A field with some cows (Robin also had a spare car battery which we used to power our outdoor ‘gigs’).

It would be fair to say that we left the musical world (even the musical world of Southamption) relatively untroubled - perhaps with exception of the cows - but we definitely had something. Our playing was underpinned by a rapport developed from our repeated improvising together, and our style was under the influence of systems music, enabling us to move into combining and offsetting patterns of notes one moment and then veering off into new areas the next.

As I have described, most of our band time was spent improvising together and from these improvisations we would develop frameworks for music to play at our live performances. The rediscovered cassette contained four such improvisations.

...And so at first I digitised the 4 Point Paint tracks with the intention of removing as much of the hiss as I could without spoiling the sound of the guitars. As I worked with the tracks however, taking them into Logic Audio to mix hissed and unhissed versions together and gnashing my teeth and cursing at the whole idea of hiss a great deal - I gradually began to see that hiss was perhaps not my enemy and that I should embrace hiss and even use it as my guide ;o) (which means I realised I could gently reinvent the tracks, with subtle reverbs and new additions here and there and use the hiss as a guiding aesthetic). I then became interested in not just documenting the past but using it to produce new material.

From there it was a short step to designing a CD cover and preparing to release a VERY limited edition (of 2 only) of '4 Point Paint'.

The main revelation however, has been that I can view my past recordings as ingredients for new work - so more of this later.

* This was an era in which I veered between working in recording studios and double-tracking cassettes on my warhorse of a Hi Fi.

I've also sporadically been trying out some design and content ideas for which will work as a kind of 'online artist's studio' (and I'm busy trying to define that term) in parallel with the Chameleon Lectra site.

more entries on the above soon
Add to Technorati Favorites