Watermans, Brentford 2nd November 2013: Digital Art & Performance Weekender

On 2nd November I ventured to Watermans in Brentford for their Digital Art & Performance Weekender featuring exhibitions and concerts. Quite a weird space really, and I should know having produced a number of Sprawl's SonicRecyclers there, together with Douglas Benford who’s collaboration with sculpturer Rob Olins Soundmirrors is also on show. Worth seeing/hearing if you are in the area, delicate recordings of the area subtly reflected - and with a pleasing view of the Thames.

I was not so sure about some of concerts that took place in the bar/restaurant area. DMT for example, a trio consisting of Atau Tanaka who I remember from ye olde Sensorband times and currently holds the title of Professor of Media Computing at Goldsmith’s University, his PhD student Marco Donnarumma, plus Greek live electronics performer Christos Michalakos, The combination using technology and body sounds utterly fab on paper, but, call me dense, what is the difference between corporeal gestures and physical gestures as advertised in the press release???

Atau performed with two iPhones operating granular instances algorithms through effects pedals, Marco used muscle contraction sensors on his arm operated with claw like gestures and boxing inspired hand kicks whilst Christos played an electrified acoustic drum kit on the verge of dance beats, albeit more introvertly played.

It started promisingly sensitive, rather jazzy in places. But, perhaps because of using a real drum kit in a small space that other interment’s volumes need to be calibrated around, the levels became way to loud. I was pitying the Indian restaurant-goers sitting at their tables dotted around the stage, in the process of digesting their curries and trying to cope with a continuous stream of sounds that the futurists would have been proud of. An ebb and flow of distributed frequencies and endlessly drawn-out finale climaxes…

This was a real shame, more body-embracing interfaces are thoroughly needed in the world of technologically inspired music. But, despite the levels, this was a curiously bland performance and I am hoping that it may be down to too many poppadoms prior to stage time - and next time will be as fab as it could be!

Tue Greenfort: Where the People Will Go, South London Gallery, 10th Sept, 3pm

I have a contrary mind. At least, if I am told to expect exiting work I generally don’t. And I wasn’t disappointed.

In all fairness, I didn’t give it a lot of time, fuelled up on lunchtime lattes paired with stimulating conversation and the joys of spending money you haven’t got - I had picked up The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the AvantGarde, edited by David W Bernstein, in the bookshop.

Some nice things though: waste and recycling bags on the wall, various charts and diagrams in display cases. Stuff I like.

Sound piped in from the street, from the garden. A mild effect of wondering if it was “real” or not. Hmm. Not much more to say really.


Air I Breathe opening, Gazelli Art House, Rochelle School, London, 8th Sept 2011, 6pm

Four artists, one of them sonic. Lots of frocks, hairdos and heels, very art opening. Many people I hadn’t seen in a while, so enjoyable gossip. Most work uninspiring.

I liked Kate Terry's colourful and delicate string installation on the top floor, although - not having read the paperwork - I initially mistook it as part of John Wynne's sound piece. Great, I thought, a room sized harpy thing! But it wasn't. Not a collaboration exactly but sound and sculpture sharing space. Sound weaving through threads perhaps? A poetic idea? Not sure, but no sound touched the threads. Self-contained, smooth sine waves crossing the room in their own space. I am a sucker for low end bass so it was fun to move through both sculptures and do a bit of body weaving, listening, looking.

Downstairs, John’s dad’s hearing aids. Funny how vulnerable they look: in a glass box, on a glass table, arranged with slide and projector displaying an empty emigrant ocean scene. Delicate battery operated feedback, and if you pass your finger carefully over the little gadgets, a melody appears. Three, pretty tuned notes in total, rhythm and configuration up to the audience. I wonder who noticed?

Eliane Radigue, Psi 847, live at St Stephen Walbrook, London, 20th June 2011, 7.30pm

The second experience of Eliane Radigue's music. The first one, last Friday, sent softly rounded textures high into the dome of St Stephen’s

This one is moving. Delicate frequency threads attaching themselves to muscle fibres, making them move. Rain mixes with composition. At one point a siren emerges to hastily pulse towards some mishap or other. 

Velvety, subtly moulded streams and polished pebbles, entering through the ear, merging with tissue and blood, coexisting for a short while in the whirl of my breath. As the music subsides, a path also retreats, a floating path, and I am carefully set down upon earth’s more gritty textures.

One strange question: If I were a dancer, how could an audience in a dance performance be guided to experience this also?


Sound Art at the Swiss Church, London : David Toop with Lore Lixenberg, Sylvia Hallett, E.laine and Emi Watanabe, 16th June, 7.30pm The Swiss Church, London

Musings:  What makes this into sound art rather than a lovely music performance with shimmering frequency frictions and languid guided improvisations? Where does one transition into the other? 

David Toop comments that the pieces ‘…are not exactly compositions, nor are they exactly sound art installations or improvisations. Toop’s stated interest with these three approaches is listening and how it connects to the other senses, to all aspects of time (including memory), our sense of who we are and how we connect with the rest of the world.’ (from the press release).

Not sure I’m getting how that works in situ. The first piece seems too long for my tired being, and despite Lore Lixenberg's amazing voice, I wander. The second however is sublime, a beautiful union of two voices and Japanese flute. Performers in traditionally classical black outfits, standing still, facing the audience rather severely. The third piece I miss.

Brandon LaBelle: Notes Toward a Sketch of a Sonic Body, IMT Gallery London, 22th May, sometime in the afternoon

It last day of the exhibition. A lovely warm day. I like the idea of body sketches, image references translated into the audible. Instead of curvy backs, the delicate whisperings of feet, disembodied ghosts of movements, themselves tracing around the room. For the moment, just witnessed by me and my imagination. I buy the CD. Not quite the same thing. Why not!?

Sadly, Cage’s On Nothing does not persuade me to linger. There is sunshine to explore.


Ryoji Ikeda : datamatics [ver 2.0], performance at Barbican Hall 18th April 2011, 7.30pm

datamatics the performance: tasteful, next generation Star Trek come Tron style data graphics in black and white, plus vibrant specks of red and blue (1). This appeals. Only much better music of course than either had on offer. Here, sound feels almost painterly (2) - carefully situated sonic activities, strangely block-like for such a cinematic experience. Does this pice need to be so spatially sparse to make the piece gel? Which it does - on the mental level. Data reaching out at break-neck speed, sweeping photonic gestures carried by audible vibrations. Far too much in the way of vibrations for my system, and: it also rattles the hall. Furthermore, disjointed levels of clarity where the eye is offered subtly more detail than the ear. However, complexity reigns, masterly interwoven textures and events that keep brain and senses occupied. How come the experience leaves me strangely untouched? 

(1) Later I read this described by gallerist Nigel Prince as ‘Translated into a series of schematic representations, (the visuals) are often reminiscent of constellations or some kind of galactic space. Exploring again the infinitesimal possibilities of numbers – like stars in the universe – Ikeda reveals everyday experiences as coded.’ (Nigel Prince. “Bridging the devide: Ryoki ikeda”. INTO Magazine, pages 36–41, November 2009.). It fits…

(2) I am reminded of David Toop's ‘Sinister Resonance’: as he describes the presence of sound in paintings, here I experience the painterly in sound (David Toop. “Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener”, New York and London: Continuum, 2010.).


sound is a bridge upon which i walk
back and forth
experiences of a transitional nature


sound is a bridge upon which i walk



back and forth

experiences of a transitional nature