I have been offered the opportunity to produce a piece for an installation bcreated by artist R. Armstrong called Yard Work. This is a fixed, but mobile, outdoor installation that interacts with its environment and with anyone passing. I find this an exciting idea, and something quite removed from what I usually do as a musician. Last year, however, I made the installation vertical features of 12 scores which was displayed at the bandstand in Barrow park as part of the Full of Noises festival in 2013. Despite many community projects in the past, this was a first experience of ‘art in public places’ in that the piece was not intended to serve some particular need, idea, or development of the community but simply presented my work in a way that made it accessible for anyone who might pass.
When thinking about work that I could present as part of Yard Work I also had in my mind the exchange that I have already had with R. Armstrong as part of previous and ongoing projects. This seemed like an opportunity to make work that drew on this exchange and collaboration rather than presenting a piece that didn’t acknowledge the history of work between us. In 2012 I created a piece called sound.practice. This became the starting point for the work. Although this piece stands alone as a separate work, with an idea of instrumental performance and instrumentality at the centre of it, the central tenet of over-recording is preserved.
exchange.practice is a correspondence and over-recording project between the US and the UK lasting 7 days.
A recording made in the UK is played at an installation in the US. This event is recorded and the recording returned to the UK. The recording will then be played in the UK and a further re cording made. Across the week this will result in 14 recordings. Over time a collage of sound will be built up, with sounds recorded earlier in the week receding into the background compared with more recent sounds.
The music interacts with both sound and the memory of sound. Unlike other works of over-recording—such as Alvin Lucier’s I am sitting in a room—no feedback loop is created but the space is infinitely extended. It is not focused on the infinite possibilities within a single sound, nor on the infinite possibilities of sound itself, but on the infinite possibility of interaction of sound even within a finite window.
As well as building a picture of ever-expanding environment, encompassing the US and the UK and closing the distance between them. This allows for a dialogue between the two sites. During the recording, any sounds that are made will be captured. This, in turn, allows for intervention in the piece by the composer, artist, and others passing in both sites which might include: sounds, speech, musical performance, or commentary.
In the UK, during each subsequent recording, the composer will reaction to what has been captured on the recording in the form of (live) notation which will be complied during the length of the recording. This will be scanned and sent to the US where it can be displayed in the installation both during and before/after the performance. The option exists for the interpretation of this notation by those passing the installation or the artist; similarly intervention in the received notation might be made by the artist and archived as part of the project.
A manifesto of the piece will be provided for the installation.
The duration of the exchange is 7 days.
There are many possible lengths for the recordings from the length of a concert performance to extended durations.
Although an intention of the piece is to foreground environmental sound, the notion of the environment as music, or of soundscape as music, is already well-explored.The possibility of bringing this sound into the domain of concert performance through a shorter duration is a possibility, opening the potential for a fixed work as an outcome of the performance. A fixed duration also frames the performance and defines the time-window for intervention, although not the scope of the piece/installation which is defined by the display of the notation.
The title of the original work (sound.practice) might be desirable to retain because the basic premise of the work remains the same. However, the further developed aspects of the work also deviate from the original intentions of this title. exchange.practice, the new title, reflects both the origins of the piece and its unique aspects.
Due to the time difference the UK recordings will be made 1st (in advance) so that they are supplied to the artist in good time for each performance event. Whilst the US site is a fixed installation the UK site need not be. Due to there being no fixed location to perform the work in a single public setting in the UK a number of locations might be explored including my own garden and a garden at my work, extending the “Yard Work” concept of the original installation.
The initial recording in the UK will not yield live notation but will be accompanied by a statement of the time and date of the recording. All future over-recordings will yield live notation, but all will include a statement of the time and date of the recording/notation.
Notation may include: musical fragments, glyphs, text, collage, or a lack of response.
After the initial recording iteration, the piece comprises 13 performances. The iterative approach taken is, by its nature, ritualised and performative. As a result, the piece is also a performance undertaken by those who observe it.
The piece will yield:
14 separate recordings
A final studio work, created as a layered recording after the end of the work