The weather was very present today. 9.00 am. The wind buffeted, hummed, and hissed around the ceiling lantern in the lecture theatre: art and sound of a different order. After the morning’s Art/Sound lecture was delivered, I redelivered last Thursday’s lecture (which had failed to record on my Dictaphone) to no audience. I was not as self-conscious about the absence of listeners as I’d anticipated. The darkness of the auditorium dulls their presence even when it’s full. However, the ambience of the recording is entirely different; human bodies absorb a great deal of sound. One audient came up to me at the end of the first lecture and tactfully drew to my attention a proclivity that I have to confuse left and right when identifying one of a pair of images on the screen. Guilty as charged. I haven’t a clue. My impairment is made all the worse because the left and right images that I’m seeing on my monitor are in reverse orientation to the projection of the same on the screen behind me.
In the Vocational Practice module, afterwards, the group had a thoughtful, wide-ranging, and good-humoured discussion about the nature of professionalism in relation to fine art and art history. I learn a great deal from them. They exhibit an admirable balance of openness and caution, firmness and courtesy. And, they take my jibes well. Good chaps to a woman and a man.
1.30 pm. Over lunch, I uploaded today’s and last week’s (failed) podcasts, caught up on module emails, adjusted my schedule for the remainder of the week, and mixed down the verso/recto track of The Floating Bible composition:
The first mixdown was back to front, or rather front to back: I didn’t know my recto from my verso. (There’s a joke in there, somewhere.) It has been one of those days. The final track was published to part 2 of the album. Complete.
6.15 pm. Practise session 1. The evening session focussed on developing the project sheet for Art/Sound‘s Workshop 2. The first of two complementary projects:
The workshop provides a two-fold experience: one of noise and another of silence (in the Cageian sense). Both involve attentive listening, but of different orders, intensities, and foci. One of the aims of the workshop is to develop not only the discipline of hearing but also an ability to describe sound phenomenon. As students of fine art and art history, we are used to perceiving with our eyes and mind, and articulating those observations in writing and speech using a language that is native to our subjects. We aren’t as experienced in dealing with acoustic perceptions in the same way. The contexts of listening to noise and silence are the School of Art and Holy Trinity Church (on Trinity Road) respectively.
School of Art: Noise
The basis of this phase of the workshop is Marcel Duchamp’s Sculpture Musicale (1913). Translated, the fragment of paper says: ‘Musical Sculpture. Sounds lasting and leaving from different places and forming a sounding sculpture that lasts’. The description is of a conceptual work (insomuch as Duchamp doesn’t appear to have acted upon it). However, the statement could just as easily be understood as an instruction for its realization. In the workshop, we will construct the sound sculpture within the context of School of Art.
The ‘sounds lasting’ will be generated by a sustained electrical waveform fed through an amplifier and speaker. There will be several such units available for installation in ‘different places’ throughout the building. They will need to be of sufficient volume and situated so that they can be, as far as possible, heard together.
Once the sound sources have been installed, the group will move around the building and ‘observe’ their perceptions of the phenomenon. The experience will be articulated on a worksheet and in conversation.
9.40 pm. Practise session 2.