2013: The year in retrospective. Part VII
Sound composer, artist.
2013: listen again
Two highlights for me this year were the Mass Observation exhibition at the Photographers Gallery and The Bride and the Bachelors: Duchamp with Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns at The Barbican. Both posed some interesting questions regarding the process and consequence of recording. The dynamic collision of live and recorded events in the Barbican exhibition was quietly uneventful but continually absorbing and mesmeric. It totally transformed many of the works, which I had heard before but never ‘experienced’, in particular Duchamp’s centennial Erratum Musical (1913).
My own exploration of recording and loss continues and in May an album of my chalk and fossil dissolves was released on Tony Whitehead’s Very Quiet Records. In memory of the dinosaurs that once breathed the ‘Paleolithic air’ released by the dissolving fossils, the limited edition CD-r of ˈtʃɔːk: eight studies of hearing loss, comes with a free “Prehistoric Animals” collectors card. In June my reverie on voice, loss and memory was broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Between the Ears. Based on recordings of my mother’s voice, made over four decades, It’s Just Where I Put My Words, was at once an exploration of recorded voice and a personal reverie for my mother. My Auntie Joan thought it was ‘quite good’. At the end of the year I was invited to create a sound installation for Winchester Cathedral. The resulting rain choir was a return to the sculptural roots of my practice, readdressing my ear to, not only the place inherent within sound, but also the temporality and spatiality of the shell surrounding its audition.
2013 has also ‘seen’ the slow release by Gruenrekorder of my soundscape quartet, four walks around a year: a fitting conclusion to the seasonal palimpsest of this project. In keeping with my interest in time and memory, most of the music that I have listened to this year has been recollective and reflective in nature: Eleh’s Retreat, Return, Repose, Eliane Radigue’s Psi 847, and the Touch retrospective 30 Years and Counting.
Somehow I have find time to read and two books in particular have informed my practice and thinking: Jonathan Sterne’s encyclopedic history of sound reproduction, The Audible Past (2003) and John M. Hull’s wonderful On Sight and Insight (1997). The former is a recent addition to the shelf, whilst John M. Hull is a dusty stalwart. Hull provides some beautiful, poetic descriptions of rainfall, which never fail to open my mind and ears to listen again.