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.
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.
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.
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.
On Wednesday I was in Tilburg, where I saw Dutch artist Christien Meindertsma’s current solo show at Tilburg’s Textielmuseum. Meindertsma’s primary interest is in the “lines that link raw materials with producers, products, and consumers”, lines she traces through a diverse practice spanning product design, artistic intervention, and historical, botanical, and industrial research. Her work One Sheep (2004/10) consists of sweaters knitted with the wool taken from a single sheep, accompanied by a ‘passport’ identifying the animal in question. For her book Pig 05049 (2007), she details all the various products that are made from or through the use of materials of porcine origin, including fruit juice (cleared by gelatine), bullets (pig grease is used during manufacture), and the brake discs of German trains (made from bone ash).
Finally got myself organised and got out of the house in time to see some exhibitions. Guy Tillim’s ‘Second Nature’ at Huis Marseille was an odd experience – his photos of São Paolo and Polynesian islands looked as if they could have been taken pretty much anywhere, which I’m not really sure was intentional. I loved Bertien van Manen’s ‘Let’s sit down before we go’ at FOAM, all intimate, off-the-cuff snapshots of friends in the former USSR, images of people eating or drinking or lounging round the house or running around in the snow. The New York Times show, also at FOAM, was nicely done, but to be honest I can’t look at any more press photos, I just don’t see anything anymore. I liked Gary Peress’ admonition to “Listen, listen, look, look”, though.
I spent Friday afternoon on the beach at Scheveningen with sound artists Frouke and Leon, watching them work. They are currently investigating ways of trying to generate sounds from wind currents using kites – the wind-driven movements of the kite produce vibrations in the kite’s string, which can then be picked up using a contact mic. The research at Scheveningen is facilitated by a BADGAST residency from Satellietgroep, a Den Haag-based initiative dedicated to the study of “the cultural significance of oceans and seas from the perspective of the arts and science”. We had great fun, the weather was great, and we all got a little sunburnt.
Date: 07/03/2012 Time: approx. 13:20 Location: Rosa Overbeekbrug, corner of Bloemgracht and Bloemdwarrstraat Weather: Moderate rain, low visibility
Description of Incident: A young adult male on a black scooter, travelling westwards along Bloemgracht, collided with a middle-aged woman (50-60yrs) on a bicycle as she attempted to cross Bloemgracht heading north. The woman was accompanied by a young child (2-3yrs) who was strapped in a child seat at the rear of the bicycle. All appeared to avoid serious injury, although the child was in a clear state of distress. There appeared to be some minor damage to both vehicles. Onlookers quickly arrived at the scene.