8.30 am: Shades of Scheeler:
9.00 am: Into the sun and towards the University of Leicester’s Media Studies department. I’ve not visited to the city since 1979, when I served as the UK arts representative on the National Executive of an organisation which supported Christian Unions in British colleges and universities. My recollection of Leicester, then, is of one of a pronounced monochromacy, wetness, and dark looming clouds. But today is different:
9.40 am: Having walked up the wrong road, I alighted upon the conference venue just on time. Having negotiated the high-security protocols, I found the seminar room (this was a smallish affair), where registration was underway. I scanned the lecturing facilities, in readiness for my own contribution. No lectern or reading light. (I’d brought the latter with me.) I could improvise a lectern using an upturned box. (I shall buy either a portable desk stand or a small music stand for future exigencies.) Conference lecturing is getting less formal, it seems to me. Presenters stand with their script in one hand. (It looks, and probably feels, awkward.) Most of the contributors didn’t turn off the room’s lights, because they needed sufficient illumination to read their script. As a result, the projection screen was bathed in white halogen, making their slide presentations hard to discern.
The morning began in seminar mode. (I’ve not participated in one, other than a leader, since I was a student. All the participants had to get smart quick.) ‘What is music?’ (Ah! The easy questions first.) Anna, the conference conveyor, provided a clear steer:
11.00 am: Refreshments! Welcome. Then, on with individual contributions. Some fascinating material was presented. The papers on Pop music and advertising, wordless comics that are accompanied by sound, the voice as materiality, consonance and dissonance in image/sound relationships, musical structure v narrative structure, sonic logos, sound signification in film, and a sound art encapsulation of the life, death, and consumption of a pig, were particularly memorable.
1.15 pm: Over lunch I talked with a delegate from China. She’s in the UK on a year-long sabbatical, taking in anything and doing everything that she finds interesting, and taking it back home. We discussed our respective culture’s contrasting concepts of education and the process of learning. There’s much to be gained from these exchanges, on both sides.
I took to the floor at 2.30 pm. When talking about my own work, I consciously don’t make claims regarding its quality. All that I seek to do is situate the creative endeavour within the matrix of its broader contexts. The question time that followed my delivery was intelligent and searching. I gained insight from this:
5.30 pm. By the close of the day, we were all ‘conferenced-out’. This had been like undertaking a 10-credit art history module in seven hours. After a chill out back at the hotel, I took in some late evening ‘bargain-basement’ shopping before dinner. (It wasn’t easy to find a table without prior booking on a Friday night.)
Shades of a shade (being also a term once used to describe a ghost):
On the way home, I spied Leicester’s Christmas bling and kitsch. Dreadfulness and gloriousness in harmony:
Shades of Turrell: