Afternoon Dust

Changing Places

The café is crowded and full of noise: animated conversations, kitchen clatter, the scrape and chink of cutlery and glasses. Composer Sam Messer approaches groups of diners and politely asks to deposit a small cube speaker on their table. No one refuses. The cubes are initially silent, but after a while one or two of them quietly start to sound: a continuous hollow wave rushes then fades; somewhere else a ringing sine wave begins. They are hard to hear over the clamour of voices, but hearing them does something strange and unexpected to those voices, and to the room itself. The quality of the sonic environment changes somehow, while remaining the same: noises suddenly lose their character as conversation or as café ambience, and become somehow object-like, abstract and distanced. The insertion of the composed sounds turns the whole café environment into a kind of sculpture.

Reading Notes: Edward S. Casey, "The Fate of Place"

I’ve just finished reading Edward S. Casey’s The Fate of Place (1997), a fascinating history of the idea of place in Western philosophy from early creation myth to Derrida and Irigary. Although a lot of the concepts discussed seemed to me to be frighteningly complex, each one was made easier to grasp through comparison with the others, and while Casey never shies from using appropriately technical terms when necessary, I found his writing style to be very clear and straightforward.

Human-Sized Forest: Dog Kennel Hill Project at King’s Wood

Last time I saw Dog Kennel Hill Project, they were busy sending up theatre’s aspirations to the sublime in the bitingly satirical Devil in the Detail. Their new piece Marks, Measures, Maps and Mind takes things a step further, leading audiences right into the heart of Nature itself — into that which underwrites and provides the model for every attempt at the sublime in art. Commissioned by Stour Valley Arts, Turner Contemporary, and South East Dance, the piece is a roughly forty-five minute guided walk through the forest at King’s Wood, Kent, with a large company of dancers performing a number of movement studies, solo or in groups, around the audience.

body the writing

Here’s a video I made this morning. I might submit it as my BA dissertation, along with a 7,991-word bibliography.

Reading Notes: Giuliana Bruno

As part of the research for my forthcoming dissertation I’ve been getting stuck in to the work of Italian-born, US-based feminist film theorist Giuliana Bruno. Streetwalking on a Ruined Map (1993), her book about early Neapolitan filmmaker Elvira Notari, was interesting to me on many levels, not least for her convincing argument that in the early history of cinema and the city, Baudelaire and Benjamin’s literary flâneur becomes a cinematic flâneuse. However, it was Atlas of Emotion, her 2002 magnus opus investigating the crossing over of film, architecture, mapping, travel, and the body, that yielded the most fruit in terms of my dissertation research.

Recent Activity: Fluid Radio, Whitstable Biennale

Summer is flying by, and at the moment there’s plenty going on to keep me occupied. Regular readers may be aware that I review experimental music and sound art for Fluid Radio; a recent live review of Messrs. Patterson, Farmer, Cornford and Lash can be found here.

“Now or Lately Known As”: The Whitechapel’s London Open

Structuralist and post-structuralist linguistic theory has it that the relationship between the name (signifier) of a thing and its essence or identity (signified) is an essentially arbitrary one – there’s no reason why a thing should be called by one name and not another, save for habit or convention. In his performance Deed Poll, Martin John Callanan shows in an imaginative and quietly witty way how things aren’t necessarily so straightforward. By changing his name from Martin John Callanan to Martin John Callanan using the eponymous legal procedure, the artist demonstrated to a live audience at London’s Whitechapel Gallery the vectors of legal, political and religious power that underpin the day-to-day performative use of names in Western societies.

Reading Notes: Green and Voegelin

I have a lot of books to read this summer, so the next few posts on this blog will probably be mostly about what I’ve been reading. Here’s some thoughts on a couple I just finished.

Green and Voegelin books

Specific Utopias: Non-General Responses To The 'Problematic' Site

The current issue of Interference journal contains an interesting essay by Will Scrimshaw titled ‘Any Place Whatever: Schizophonic Dislocation and the Sound of Space in General’. The essay draws upon works by Francisco López, Asher Thal-Nir and Taylor Deupree to describe a shift in site-specific sound art from “veridical act[s] of documentation” towards an abstract “schizophonic dislocation”, a shift Scrimshaw considers in terms of a movement from the specific to the general. In Scrimshaw’s view, the tendency to try to capture ‘essential’ sonic features or events that give a site its specificity and uniqueness, an approach he associates with R.

Zoe Leonard's Observation Point

I was introduced to the work of artist/photographer Zoe Leonard by Dr. Sophie Berrebei in a recent lecture, and was persuaded to schedule a visit to Camden Arts Centre in London to see Leonard’s current show Observation Point. While the lecture was based mainly on the earlier work Analogue (about which Berrebei has written an informative article in a recent issue of AfterAll), the work on display in London is more recent, and includes the conversion of one of the Centre’s galleries into a camera obscura. Other works on show include You See, I Am Here After All (2008), a collection of postcards depicting the Niagara Falls, and a series of photographs of the sun taken in 2011.