Final Book

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Here is the finished score! I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, but I also think there’s a lot more I can do with this. That’s how I feel about both of my final pieces – I’ve been ambitious and tried new things etc, and now  I’ve taken the positives and negatives from them and can expand further in future.

  • I think the choice to use only line was the right one. Colour would have confused the images, and it’s not how I interpret the score so would have been dishonest and inaccurate.
  • The format of the book works well. It reads and handles well, which is what I wanted.
  • I was very neat and measured with some sections, and more expressive with others. Unintentionally this reflects how I made these sections – the more expressive lines match sections that were more recorded stuff from Venice, whereas the rigid structures were the parts I constructed myself from scratch. It’s interesting how I hear them differently.

I want to explore the book as an object more. I’ve struggled this year finding a medium to display visual work in, and I think books are the perfect one. I think they’re more grounded in reality than video etc. You can hold them, leaf through them etc. This tactile experience of books is what makes them stand out to me I think.

As for the set up of the exhibition, I went for something humble: a shelf for the book, and a hook for the headphones. The piece is meant to be an experience, and I think having flashy curation would diminish that. I think in hindsight, I might add a stool/chair. The piece is 20 minutes long, and if people want to fully engage with it then maybe having a place to sit would encourage a longer interaction.

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Key Concept Review

I didn’t realise the key concepts were meant to be so important, they felt very sporadic. They were interesting, but none of them really affected my practice that much. The one that probably had the biggest effect was James’ on the Everyday. I think I learnt from it not to be so serious about all of my artistic output. It’s okay to make more lighthearted things that don’t necessarily relate to my conceptual progression, because the act of making and being creative is beneficial in itself.

Because of this, I’m going to make Raisinquest over the summer. Raisinquest is a survey I did over the Christmas Holidays where I interviewed people on their opinions of raisins. I’ve wanted to collate the information into a book for months, so now I shall.

Making the Score

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I was torn with the score. I didn’t know whether to go for purely line drawings, or add aspects of colour – some of the scores I researched were purely b/w, some colour. B/w seemed the natural option, but then colour could depict parts in more detail maybe?

I went for b/w line drawings in the end. The way I work is always in b/w, and I never think of sound as colour, always as shapes and lines. To use colour would be a dishonest depiction I think. Restricting it to line ended up allowing me to use line more creatively too – like I learnt in circle line, restrictions can make you more creative etc. I made the score from sketches I had done whilst making the piece, and listening to it over and over and interpreting it.

Constructing the Book

Finding the right form for the book took quite a while, but it was worth the time – I think the form suits the score well. I’ve chosen to do a 9 page concertina book with a cover. Each page will depict a minute of the piece, and it will flow from left to right, then flip to the other side. I chose to do a paper cover as the contents of the book it quite delicate – I didn’t want the cover to overpower it. I think the less formal cover keeps a ‘working’ essence to it as well. The score will be very linked to my ways of working, so I don’t want to stray too far from that.

The construction was really difficult to work out, because for the amount of pages I had it would open so the edge was facing inwards. This disrupted the flow of the book and the score, so after a lot of thought I worked out a solution of removing a page – I thought my piece was closer to 20 minutes, but it’s only just over 19 so losing one page doesn’t matter.

Above is the model I made for the book. Again, as I said previously about being precise and caring over craftsmanship, taking the time to plan it out and try different formats meant my book form is exactly as I wanted, not a ‘that’ll do’.

The actual book form itself went really well – I really cared over it, and it looks neat and professional as a result. Now I need to fill it.

Alex Cecchetti At the Gates of the Music Palace

NEUTRAL OBSERVATIONS:

As you enter the space, you are confronted by a weathered looking door that looks out of place in the gallery. It doesn’t look like you can go through the door, so you walk to the left instead. There are graph-like colourful prints on the wall in frames to the right. In front of you there’s a big copper satellite/like piece hanging with a cord hanging down from it, which appears to be a sensor on closer inspection. As you walk past it, frequencies sound. Then you follow the space round to the right, and there’s a huge wave like piece made from copper and fabric. It looks like a ribbon suspended in air, or a sound wave. There are also some benches with books on them. As you continue there’s a cabinet of erotica drawings and simple line drawings. There is a central room in front of you, and you enter through a curtain. The room is pink lit, with a thick carpet, cushions on the floor, and little speakers set up in a large circle around the room. There’s a sonic installation playing, each speaker sounding a different voice in a choir. Close to one of the corners is a huge mobile of blown glass, it looks like a circular cascade of colour. Inside is a windchime and a music stand. At the opposite end of the room, piano strings run from a high shelf to the opposite side of the doors that you saw as you entered. As someone opens the doors, the piano strings are strung, creating more live sound.

(Please excuse that I accidentally filmed it portrait, below someone else’s footage)

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS:

It was a strange experience, because it felt unnatural and forced. The whole exhibition felt disjointed, like the curator was trying to force different pieces together. Only when I read the information leaflet did I realise that the benches and erotic portraits were part of the exhibition at all – they seemed completely removed from it. The satellite piece that sounds when you walk past is a good idea, but it just didn’t work as I expected. It only sounds if you walk down one side of it, and it’s the same frequency pretty much, there isn’t any variation to sustain your engagement with it. As for the speakers installation, it just felt like a rehashing of things I’ve experienced before that are better executed. It all just felt very naive. The bird beak blown glass mobile etc all felt like it was clutching at straws, trying to make you think a certain way about the work rather than letting you make your own opinion.

My main gripe however was the piano strings piece. I think the idea is brilliant – I’ve worked with exposed piano strings in the past, and their sonic capabilities are amazing. I just felt the way this was executed let it down. The doors looked out of place so you didn’t feel like you could enter through them – only when I saw the invigilator open them did I realise you could. This is that tricky issue of whether or not it’s better to show people like that, or put a sign up to tell people (which draws away from the experience). But I think certain elements could have encouraged you to open it more naturally. If you had to open those doors to enter the gallery, you would have interacted with them. If the doors didn’t look so out of place, they would seem less intimidating.

The writing about the exhibition from the artist is so ‘flowery’, it just makes you cringe:

‘Dear You,
Let me welcome you as a musician and not as a
spectator. Dancers, singers, readers, builders, sleepers
and dreamers, this is us, constantly busy, willing or
not, to participate in the world. No exhibition or
representation can suspend for a moment the joyful
and inexorable process of becoming.’

What exactly is, ‘the inexorable process of becoming’? It all just feels so forced and overly poetic. I feel like it creates an atmosphere of not allowing you to think for yourself.

MY OWN PRACTICE:

Overall I did enjoy the exhibition, even if I didn’t love it. It allowed me to think critically, and I think it had a lot of interesting ideas that just didn’t get executed well. I think this shows how much my knowledge of sound art has increased – I’m not in a position where I can compare and critique sound art in a wider context.

I want to try and work with exposed strings more after this. I think they have a unique resonance that changes entirely when removed from their conventional instrument, creating an ambiguity that sustains intrigue. I also think my anger over exhibition texts recently could really help with my dissertation. I want to write more about how text in exhibitions can really restrict your experiences of them, and create my own language for talking about them in the process.

 

Werner Herzog – Into the Inferno

I watched Werner Herzog’s ‘Into the Inferno’ recently, and two main features interested me in terms of my practice. Firstly, the way the lava shaped itself and moved reminded me of Robert Pepperell’s teachings on visual indeterminacy. Any frame could have been paused and an interesting image would be left on screen.

The main things that caught my attention though was the soundtrack. Most of the volcanoes they were filming were in South America, Africa, or Indonesia specifically. Yet every time there was a clip of the lava etc, they had Christian choral music playing. I found this a strange combination – the music was mostly serene and calming, yet it was played with this destructive footage of volcanoes. I think they complimented each other well, though. The people watching this documentary would mainly be a western audience who are familiar with this kind of music to some degree. Sacred music from other cultures wouldn’t necessarily be recognised in the same way, as people aren’t as familiar with them. The use of it with the footage heightens the sense of awe we experience of the volcano.

This could be something worth playing with – using existing music or footage that you wouldn’t expect together, and creating new contexts for them in their combinations. I think thinking of existing music as a tool to create with as well is an interesting angle – music carries both it’s inherent emotional impact, but cultural connotations etc as well which could be interesting to play with.

Venice – Sarah McMenemy

I found this book by chance in a little shop in Bristol, and had to get it. It’s an accordion fold, so similar in format to some of the books I’ve been looking at. It has a little box, and then the whole book folds out. I like how the book continues from one side to the other by not having two covers – this creates a natural flow from one side of the paper to the next. I like the idea of having the open continuous form like this, but I think I still want it to be within a cover. If it’s got a hard sleeve like this one it will be too formal I think. I want it to be almost sketchbook like, as the content is a representation of ways of working.

I do like the pop up structure of the book and the construction. Though not appropriate for this piece, I want to make more books in future and this could be an interesting way of doing so.