October 14, 2017

3.00 am. Always 3.00 am – pulling the duvet around me, cocoon like, to preserve body heat; my frame craved sleep, but my mind raced like a Morgan. I’m at a loss to know what’s the cause. Sympathetic resonance, perhaps.

7.00 am: Shower, then breakfast. I’d written a list of ‘needs’ to source before walking to the School to help with the preparations for today’s Open Day. Gaffer tape – a must. Camera – if the event isn’t documented, it may as well not have taken place. Everything is so tiresomely evidence-based these days. What do I wear? Black, of course. From tip to toe – classical-concert style. I’ll then match the colour of the rig – be just one of the components, as it were. The visual presentation of sound art is, as I’ve said elsewhere, crucial in my opinion. No gingham table cloth casually slung over a trestle and domestic-style plugboards dribbling down the sides for me. The integrity of the vision and of context of action is the beginning of sound, in my opinion.

8.45 am: Off to School. 9.15 am: The sound system was tested. A few minor glitches with the looper/sampler playback levels, but nothing inexplicable. I spent half an hour acclimatising to the gear. There’s always, to begin, a period of awkwardness, cack-handedness, and separation between the equipment and the performer. A dialogue through touch and response has to be established. By its very nature, the system requires some dexterity:

This event was not a performance; rather, it was a presentation or set of public actions – an occasion when the audience could watch me at work and interact as I did so:

I was desperate to avoid Techno/Dub connotations, which DJ equipment and the process of looping, inevitably summon. The sound that I was groping towards was far more abstract and discontinuous. Some of my sound works have been danceable, however. (I can’t dance.) But that outcome has been a bi-product of the material, rather than a decision to engage with the genre on my part:

10.30 am: I was questioned by anxious parents, obviously wondering whether their daughters and sons would be forced into a career in MC-ing. (‘BA (Hons.) DJ’: sounds good, though!), I began, properly, by listening to and overlaying the sounds at the very beginning of the record – the scratches and static on the lead-in groove. The end-groove forms a natural loop, because the tone arm of a DJ turntable doesn’t have an automatic lift-off capacity. The stylus remains stuck in the groove. (Now, there’s a well-worn metaphor.):

The objective of the day, apart from providing an event for Open Day, was to establish various modus operandi that could be explored more concertedly in the studio. I recorded the output of the system in progress directly to the computer. The overlays of the Lucan text worked particularly well. I’ll review them all on my return from hospital, Monday. There may yet be gold among the coal:

An art gallery is conducive to working and listening. We should hold more events like this as a matter of routine. I was oblivious to the work on the wall on this occasion. Other sound artists and musicians, like Marc Ribot, in other contexts, have responded directly to an exhibition. I’ve done so only once, when I improvised a composition entitled Strictly No Admittance at Sandra Sagan’s MA Fine Art exhibition/installation called Suspension, in 2015.

3.30 pm: Show over. With the able Ms Wildig at my side, we dismantled and re-boxed the equipment. (This is about as uplifting as packing suitcases for home after a long and happy holiday.) 4.30 pm: Back at homebase, various tidy-ups, uploads, and emails formed the agenda until the close of the afternoon. 5.50 pm: ‘Press button for one seconds to turn off’.

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