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Compositions + Video Pieces

STRATA 1, August 2016

 
 
 

concept

Strata 1 is a video composition that can be played using videos alone in a gallery space or with video and live performance. Strata comprises 5 and more related video pieces. The live performance alongside is a text and graphic style score. 

Its inspiration comes from field recordings and the exploration of stones through Fluxus pieces and Christian Wolff's "Stones" text piece. Here, the performers in the video explore the sounds of stones in various contexts such as by the freeway, on the beach, and in a designer home store where the players sit on sofas conversing with stones. 

compositional notation

Strata is a text and graphic score whose duration is charted horizontally for the players to realise, the score is visible in entirety by all players. Each player has flexibility in the utilisation of the sounds of their stones and the score is a guide. Each performance would vary and could encompass more performers and the duration is flexible. 

performances

premiere: Canessa Gallery, San Francisco, August 2016

the premiere of STRATA 1 was performed by the Ensemble Trois Chapeaux (James Barnes/Jaroba, Jorge Bachman, Kevin Corcoran, Tania Chen) at Canessa Gallery in San Francisco. The performers freely made use of the space by walking and sometimes maintaining stillness, around the audience and entire gallery. The video pieces were shown alongside; we had use of a large LCD TV screen. The performance was given in a darkened gallery space; in addition some spoken words of 'Cockney' rhyming slang spoken at random by me.

 

COLOR FIELDS, February 2016

 
 
 

CONCEPT

Inspired by Josef Alber's book "Interaction of Color", which investigates color perception in relation to abstract 'fields' of color, this composition engages the performer/s using a graph score to create fields of sound. Played in parallel is a video with moving abstract color fields. Neither the sounds or colors correspond: the piece seeks to create a situation in which both audience and performers must interact and engage with what they hear and see. Hence, the composition is an 'open work' that creates a space of indeterminacy.  The resultant video with sounds can be shown as an independent video piece.

The defined sound entries are intended to be abrupt, colourful, exploration of electronics and simultaneous unexpected adventures of electronic composition from the pre 1950s. 

"Every performance offers us a complete and satisfying version of the work, but at the same time makes it incomplete for us, because it cannot simultaneously give all the other artistic solutions which the work may admit."  

- Umberto Eco, "The Open Work"

COMPOSITIONAL NOTATION

The score is a grid score, taking its inspiration from Feldman's grid pieces from the late 1950s. The piece can be played solo or any number of performers. Each musician follows their horizontal part of the grid score.The full score can be viewed entirely by each person. Although the entries of each section appear strictly timed, the timing for each entry is only an approximation and there is a certain amount of freedom with exactly how much the parts are "synched'. There are empty spaces between the grids, these operate as empty islands which can be left silent, or material can be repeated or improvised here. 

PERFORMANCE

Premiere:  The Wulf. Los Angeles, February 2016; 

Second performance. Cafe Oto. London, April 2016 - recorded by BBC Radio 3

Both performances were given by Tania Chen and John Leidecker using electronics manipulated using digital apps.  notes: it would also be possible to perform this using electronics and acoustic instruments and sound making objects

 

FUTURE PLASTICS, 2015

 
 
 

CONCEPT

Future Plastics is a series of 20 videos that explore the sounds of plastics activated in or on various surfaces. They are field studies of improvised sound activities. The video below was filmed in a cathedral. The organ is my favourite unforeseen and unplanned moment when the resident organist arrived to practise for the Sunday service just as we began filming.

These videos can be shown independently within a gallery space or in a live improvised performance context.

 

PERFORMANCE

Premiere at All Tomorrow's Parties 2016, Wales, Prestatyn

this first performance was given by David Toop and myself. David used amplified pedal steel guitar, objects and electronics. I used keyboard and live manipulated electronics. The plastics video was shown on stage and I manipulated the images to create more sampled and manipulated sounds digitally. 

Second Performance at 7 Hours, Haus 19, Berlin

I played the videos in a gallery style installation in which I performed solo with electronics and objects. there also was a piano and an element of spoken word. The idea for this show was inspired by John Cage's Europeras in which there is no driving narrative but layers of sound material.

Note for next showing: the items to explore a range of different plastic objects.

 

VERY SEDENTARY, September 2016

 
 
 

CONCEPT

I wanted to write a piece that involved activity and had clear actions that were instructed but that also allowed for error and misalignment. The video documentation of this piece operates as an individual video, it is intended that more new videos will exist each time there is a performance of  "Very Sedentary".  I would like to  display four videos of four different performances of this composition in a single room. This would create a very random and intriguing film presentation. 

The notion of error and confusion was intended to be experienced both by the audience and the performers. My inspiration here was John Cage's Water Walk, which has very specific activities and timing. Instead of a bath and a temporary kitchen, I decided to use chairs: the act of sitting and standing became central to this composition. I wanted to make the act of sitting and standing within a performance to be simple and dramatic; yet out of context the act of sitting or standing can also be absurd. It was intriguing to question standard performance conventions, such as standing when finishing a performance and bowing to the audience, or sitting when engaged in the act of performing.  

COMPOSITIONAL NOTATION

VERY SEDENTARY is a piece with written performed instructions. The instructions for when to sit and when to stand are overlaid onto an intended performance. Here is a short quote from the beginning:

"STAND IN FRONT OF CHAIRS FACING THE AUDIENCE.
SIT DOWN OR STAY STANDING QUICKLY. WHEN SOMEONE SITS, CONSIDER STANDING; WHEN SOMEONE STANDS, CONSIDER SITTING."

 

PERFORMANCE

Premiere at Studio Grand, Oakland, September 2016, performed by Ensemble Trois Chapeaux. In this performance the four performers: myself, James Barnes/Jaroba, Kevin Corcoran and Jorge Bachman played an improvised show encompassing piano, saxophone, percussion and electronics. The nonsensical instructed activities of VERY SEDENTARY were overlaid on top, rather like a vegetable stew with a slab of sea-salt chocolate melted over the original. 

Notes: Each performance will be documented on video, and the video of the most recent previous show will be shown, without sound, in parallel to the live performance.