SCHOOL OF SOUND
(Upon Entrance – Make sure LES MOTS DE STOCKHAUSEN is playing from desktop;
Paysages Magnetiques – Christian Zanesi)
“Trace elements and noise spillage – how sound has always been the motor for my picture and how a loud hailer might help”
I thought I’d try something a little more formal.
A little more controlled.
Slightly less berserk.
First two tracks from two records that have inspired me
A RECORD PLAYER
It was way back …. 1873 and I’d never heard anything like it before.
A mystery and chance discovery from a record shop on the streets of Bromley
(Walkie Talkie – itals)
Mangle my mind
Come and see my life in Kaleidoscope
Implied narratives abound
I didn’t care what it meant
It was all about THE SOUND
And the U Roy
They made me want to say something
Create something, which might evoke the same
When the artist Brian Catling was young he use to make beautifully decorated caskets lined with velvet or marmite or sweet wrappers
And so the story goes
He’d fill them with items such as a set of Daddy Longleg wings
Some navel fluff
Or teeth stuck to the ends of the fingers of a pair of gloves
He’d then send them to complete strangers.
He might get their addresses from the phone book or luggage labels on trains. They’d never know where these ‘gifts’ came from but suffice to say he had sent a little mystery into their lives.
Something unexpected, something unfathomable, something unwanted. The gift of an unknowable mind.
It is the Notknowing that is the enchantment.
The Notunderstanding that is so beguiling.
Serendipity and chance encounter
The excitement of it all.
This is what I’m looking for when I’m listening.
DUB became the bedfellow for my pictures
The Words and text working as a libretto.
Improvisation, collaboration and happenstance are the foundations of what I do.
The hope that something else ‘might’ happen.
Reverse engineering gives it the meaning at the edit stage
And the Landscape always the Landscape
A backdrop for all of the This (he points to his head) The Inscape
JAUNT – 5 minutes
There are waypoints, marker buoys and signifiers in all the work.
Disparate and unresolved
They come about through something I’ve seen or heard or smelt or remembered.
The sound informs the picture.
The memory the significance.
The comedy as the kick-in-the-balls of seriousness.
Dada as the playing with strangers in a public space.
Working with others and collaboration as a way of undermining the authority of my control.
I’m glad of it.
It lets you Letgo
The paradox of my subjective space
The personal space
The autobiographical space
The space that drives me.
The look-at-me and the woe-is-me
Michel De Montaigne
16th Century Humanist, skeptic and acute observer of himself and others.
An Explorer of the great themes of existence.
Seen through the prism of his own self-consciousness.
A Prophet of the Enlightenment.
His mind unable to sit still.
A man of nervous energy. A kindred spirit.
He still reminds me – his voice reverberating from the past:
‘Je peins le passage’ Over
I paint transience.
A Lambaster of The Clan of Clever Clogs: Skeptical of Doctors, Cynical of Politicians and Impatient of Priests:
They all compete in plastering up and confirming their accepted beliefs, with all the power of their reason, which is a supple tool, pliable and adaptable to any form……the world is soaked with their twaddle and lies
For Montaigne; better the craftsman than the policeman
Better the lollipop lady than the lawyer
He wandered the streets of Bordeaux wearing a pewter badge on which he had written:
Que sais Je
What do I know?
What do any of us know?
We’re not, we are and then we’re not.
We all know about that
Subjectivity is now everyone’s subject.
It makes sense. It’s easy.
As does the Illusion of reality
The abyss of a madness has always been close – Eden, my daughter, both CURSE and CURE has stopped me from falling in.
I remember when your Daddy was a little girl ….
I remember when your Daddy was a little boy ….
GALLIVANT – 8 minutes
(Opening sequence up until St Katherine’s chapel?)
But - What does it mean to set another person before the camera?
When are you exploiting?
When are you celebrating?
Or is it all part of the same thing?
Maybe it’s impossible to be truthful?
Maybe that’s the truth of all human relationships?
The tyranny of competence
The truth of truthlessness
And the filtering of Landscape
Cutting-Up, Sampling, Looping and Sequencing
And the technique of taking something from someone or something else:
A section of existing sound for instance and placing it within an ‘original’ composition,
This is not a new way of doing things.
It has been done for a long time; creativity as make believe with found objects.
Collage, Bricollage - a right carry on.
The plot thickens.
The constraints get thin.
Collage is a demonstration of the many becoming the one, with the one never fully understanding what became of the many that informed it in the first place.
The mix breaks free of old associations and begets new meaning.
A new script gets written.
A better script
King Tubby, Lee Scratch Perry and The Mad Professor.
DJ’s Mixers and Turntablists as purveyors of new art forms.
And still now.
It has always felt good to deface things.
Goya, Hip hop, Bird Radio and toodle pip.
We tend to understand the mind as a unified whole whereas in actual fact there is complete and utter chaos up there.
There’s nobody on the bridge, no guvnor, no unitary Self in command of our activities and utterances.
There is, in any case something ridiculous about trying to explain things trying to confer a process ….
And then to give meaning to something that invariably doesn’t have one….
We are all pretenders - and
You can only distinguish the sublime from the pleasant by the fact that the memory of it grips your heart.
There seems to be an ever increasing pressure to
explain, contextualise, theorise and over dramatise every piece of work
that one makes.
But it is the investigation of vague notions that sticks.
And it’s by walking into a cloud of 21st Century Conciousness that one can sometimes come out the other side with a vague understanding.
It might improve things if we cut off Theory from its reference, but also from too much commentary; after all it’s not easy to carry out an autopsy on a newborn child.
Nevertheless I’d like to give you the opening bars from a love poem and autopsy that I carried out a few years ago on a house and two women that continue to sustain my life
This is about them; Louyre, Leila my lover and my daughter Eden
LOUYRE THIS OUR STILL LIFE 10 minutes or 14 minutes
Use natural easy-to-understand-language that encourages reading OVER
And later that day flowers
And for those of you who need to know such things;
It was shot with a Braun Nizo Super 8 camera and a Sanyo Sure Shot Camera
A DAT recorder did the sound
Lofi Hifi and User-made content is the new folk art.
The Post folkloric.
It’s difficult to separate what happened to what seemed to happen.
Memory loves to go hunting in the dark.
Louyre – This Our Still Life is a film about memory.
Set in the foggy No Man’s land between fact and fiction.
And the soundtrack as a collage of implied narratives
Contrived through the words of others.
And the gluing-together through thought voice over, by a Melancholic and unreliable film-maker. OVER
It is as if all worldly worries and all spiritual doubts grow dumb in the face of nostalgia and beauty
Their seduction renders all questions superfluous.
Beyond the turmoil and effervescence of city life
A quieter existence raises its beautiful head
Showing the surrounding splendor in all her discreet voluptuousness.
A calm through the absence of intensity is essential to melancholy.
Meantime Archive is
The recuperation of failed visions
The rebirth of forlorn moments
The undermining of the present
The partial recovery of an ill begotten memory
The attempted resuscitation of a long gone relative
The knackered embrace of a desperate interloper.
Rich and fertile ground for the ears and the eyes
Whereas letters in a language are metaphors for specific sounds
And words are metaphors for specific ideas
Shards of a culture now form a kind of language that we know how to speak.
It doesn’t need to be spelt out.
It’s quicker and easier to go to the existing material – the film footage, the vinyl records, the radio recordings, the old cassettes, the books and the newspapers ….
It’s then the artist’s job to reverse engineer new meaning from the selected material
It’s then the artist’s job to generate new footage to fill in the gaps
This is what we do
This is what I do
We’ve all become flesh radios – panning up and down the dial in a desperate attempt to find something new and worthwhile.
It might work as work in itself – maybe not
But it might also work as an inarticulate history lesson
Where no end of stuff is going on
The copy transcends the original
The original is nothing but a collection of previous cultural moments.
And all of culture becomes game for appropriation.
And the Final Product: always and necessarily Unfinished and Open-ended
No full stops, no new paragraphs only commas and semi-colons and a proliferation of Spillage …
The origin of the novel lies in its pretense of actuality
Early novelists felt the need to foreground their work with a false realistic front. Defoe of Robinson Crusoe Defoe – tried to pass off Journal of a Plague Year as an actual journal
Enid Blyton and her FAMOUS FIVE tried to pass them off as being famous.
As the novel evolved, it left these techniques behind.
Graham Greene has disclaimers in some of his novels:
This is a work of fiction. No person in it bears any resemblance to any actual person living or dead
Conventional fiction teaches the reader that life
is a coherent, fathomable whole that concludes in a neatly wrapped-up
Life though – standing down at speaker’s corner, channel hopping, surfing the net, getting ready for bed and then hearing of a friend’s death – comes at us like a million stabs of unhappiness.
And yet still we blunder on.
My medium is not the novel but the cut up
And My cut-ups invariably aren’t even my own.
Me the second hand thinker
The absence of plot leaves the listener room to hear other things.
Mark Rothko GOOD and Jackson Pollock GOOD
And not necessarily because the work is GOOD
They forced those that came after them to change the way they thought about painting.
John Cage is Good, Joan of Arc is good, Stock Hausen Walkman are Good
Cliff Richard is Bad.
Bad Company were ok - OK Magazine is Bad – Onesy’s are BAD
AND this is the case for most BIG BUDGET MOVIES
You have to sit there for seven hundred pages to get a handful of insights that were the reason the film got made in the first place,
And the apparatus of the work is BIG, and the elaborate over built stage sets are BIG
700 hundred pages of BIG
We all exaggerate.
Identity is a fragile phenomenon.
Proust said that he had no imagination.
He was looking for reality BUT infused with something else.
Like a cake.
Whereas Cioran, wandering the streets of Paris and depressing Samuel Beckett
It makes no sense to say that death is the goal of life.
But what else is there to say?
And Woe to the book you can read without constantly wondering about the author.
What fools call wasting time is often the best investment.
Genre is a minimum security prison
In which all the guards are reading OK magazine
Put your keel to the breakers and get out there and do something else.
SWANDOWN – 12 minutes & 2 minutes
Unless we manipulate our surroundings, we have as little control over what and whom we think about as we do over the muscles of our hearts. Flesh Radios. Over.
So I continue to look for the contingency of life
The inconsistencies, the unpredictabilities, the mysteries
The art of not-knowing
And the art of reverse engineering.
The work needs to be able to bend at will to incorporate
Fiction, fantasy, memory, meditation, confession and the rape of other peoples ideas.
The work needs to embrace new technologies
We seldom legislate for these new technologies
They emerge and we plunge headlong into their new waters
We legislate after the fact in a perpetual game of catch up
And these new technologies redefine us
In the same way that the motor car and television and 3D printers have redefined us.
And then The Impressionists
Like the film in a camera, their specialty was light.
But they realized that light was both the fixed and the blur.
If the camera captured the fixed, the Impressionists concentrated on the blur.
They also wanted to capture Time in their paintings, showing how an avenue of trees might change with the shadows in the afternoon
Or how fish in a pond might come and go from view.
They painted what the camera left out.
Sound has the potential to do the same thing
It might prefigure an image or indulge the trace elements that a camera operator might have left out.
Sound might punctuate or inflect
Deform or inform the picture
Complexed or simple it has the power to seduce or corrupt.
Tarkovsky has his gaze on the picture, his sound comes later.
He had his aural aesthetics. A purity and controlled measure of both.
I have my sonic Tourette’s and pictorial Aspurges.
Sound is my Soul Rebel
The William Blake
The John Bunyan or The Daniel Defoe
It must be remembered and it must be true because
Iain Sinclair told me;
Anything processed by memory is fiction.
The aphorism is one of the earliest literary forms
The residue of complex thoughts reduced to a single metaphor
A pithy maxim or miserableists MOAN
Speaking about oneself is not necessarily offensive.
VINYL - WIND ATMOS
END with something from a book that other people helped me write
It’s called OF AN ODE TO A DEADAD
Inspired by Dennis Hopper
Borrowed from Francis Ford Coppola
(Who stole it from Joseph Conrad)
Dedicated to my father
And cobbled together in a small village in The Faroe Islands looking out over the North Sea
READ FROM BOOK;
‘OF AN ODE TO A DEADAD’
He was a good man, a tidy man,
He was a family man, not a hippy dippy man, man,
A lawn-mowing man,
He was a post-war man,
Not a post modern-man, not a man in search of a new vocabulary man,
Moreover, he was a Buy-a-British -car man, man,
He was a big man, a policeman type of man, man.
He forgot himself man
He was an angry man, man
He was of unsound methods man
If you could have heard the man shout man
If you could have felt his voice beating against your body man
He forgets himself man
He pushed my mother into the refrigerator man
Tried to freeze her man
He beat her man
He was a clear in his mind but mad in his soul man, man
A Hornblower, Hammond Innes, Hammond Organ, Easy Listening Man’s man, man
A James Bond, Barbara Striessand, SteakHouse type of man, man
And when he dies it dies man
That generation of stamp collecting, car-washing, handkerchief ironing, pipe smoking, Onedian Line watching, middle class, fondu-eating, God Save the Queening, man, man
When he dies
Sound is music and music is noise
Sound is clear thinking about mixed feelings.
But music is nothing without silence
Sound is nothing without silence
Functioning as yet another element, another part of the collage;
Sound is the motor for my picture – and always has been
That was for all those sound people that I have worked with.
Their inspiration and perseverance.
And remember the opposite of success isn’t failure but name-dropping.
Thus none of this would have been possible without the steadying influence of David Shields’ Reality Hunger and Jean Baudrillard’s Cool Memories.
Irony does not dry up the grass it just burns off the weeds
Throughout Q&A soundscape with vinyl records – Rhythm and Sound – Locked Groove
Sound FX Records - Industrial Noises etc