December 8, 2016

8.15 am: Off to School to crank up the amps in readiness for the 9.00 am Art/Sound turn on. 9.00 am: After a brief introduction, I turned on my banks of oscillators, noisy devices, and muscular amplifiers and let rip with Marcel Duchamp’s Sculpture Musicale (1913). Sound filled the space like a gas; it changed one’s apprehension of the architecture: you could now hear it, even before you saw it. The students were quick and eager to engage with the knobs and switches on the sound devices. Hideous, but otherwise glorious, screeches and groans filled the staircase. We’d summoned up the ‘ghost’ of the art school … and it was noisesome and unsettling:

9.30 am: Having moved to the Project Room, we recreated LaMont Young’s Poem for Chairs (1960). Metal, plastic and metal, and wooden chairs and stools were pushed gleefully around the room, like dodgem cars. It took time for the students to yield themselves to the fun of doing — an important principle in the Fluxus manifesto:

In the second period of today’s Art/Sound ‘doubler’, we looked at relationship between contemporary music and the visual arts since the 196os. (Mr Prigmore served us well with some mean guitar chords and howling feedback.) The universification of art schools has improved the teaching of Fine Art considerably. (Although, I’m by no means disatisfied by the formless, curriculumless education that I received at the hands of lecturers who had formidable artistic integrity.) However, something has been lost in the respect to the art students’ learning experience, these days. They’re tempted to become too dependent. I remember having to be self reliant and able to set and solve my own problems. I was also healthily indifferent to marks and under pressure to push beyond boundaries, by default.

11.10 am: Becky Backshall (one of our alumni) assisted on the studio floor as part of her teaching development practice. After lunch, I took on the third year painters until 4.45 pm, when I climbed the hill to the Physical Sciences building. I found the main entrance via a rather unnerving back passage. Very film noire:

There, I was effectively a call centre assistance on a chat line, answering questions from potential applicants to our degree schemes as part of the university’s Virtual Open Day. The Canadians were keen to engage. Pizza in abundance was provided. It was fun for the first hour. But not thereafter. Dreary. This is no way to earn a living. Most of the questions could be answered with reference to the School’s webpage. But maybe they want it straight out of the horse’s mouth. It was good to work alongside staff that I’d never before met. A good team spirit and a clear sense of a common enterprise:

8.00 pm: Homeward, and an evening of preparations for tomorrow.

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