Archive for August, 2007

08
Aug
07

Mp3 of ‘night time module’ Edinburgh 2007

I am posting an MP3 of ‘night time module’ for those who are answering my questionnaire about the piece in Edinburgh.

 ‘night time module’-alexandra p spaulding

08
Aug
07

Mp3’s of ‘i have secrets of my own’

I am posting these tracks for the people who have kindly agreed to answer my questionnaire from the Australia Show. Below you will find links to both the dedicated headphone track, and the speaker track. To refresh your memory, please listen to the headphone track on headphones, whilst the speaker tracker plays on a set of speakers in the same room.

‘i have secrets of my own’ (headphones)-alexandra p. spaulding

‘i have secrets of my own’ (speakers)-alexandra p. spaulding


Feel free to download these tracks to your hard drive.

06
Aug
07

‘i have secrets of my own’ Dissemination of Australian Installation

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Speaker Track (play on a seperate set of speakers, whilst playing the other track on your headphones) Very Short Snippet of orginal track

Heaphones Componet of the Australia Show

6 August 2007

‘… and a completely unsettling sound piece in the padded cell’ –Ric Spencer from the Western Australian newspaper

It’s always nice when your work is referred to as unsettling, no seriously. I am sure a majority of people might say they would prefer a slightly different response, but I couldn’t be happier with it being referred to as unsettling, because of that the work could not have been more successful.

I started my PhD in the fall of Oct 2005, and the opening of this show was the 16th of March 2006. This work is actually quite crucial because it’s the first sound piece I made with a greatly enhanced knowledge base about sound as a medium and it’s history. It would be impossible to say that this work was not influenced by this influx of knowledge and it was both beneficial and detrimental to piece.

Because I had started making sound pieces long before I understood anything about sound art, what I was creating before the PhD operated on a certain amount of luck. It was successful partially because I was making the sound secondary to the visual aspects of the work, and partially because the work was safe. I was using sounds and manipulating them in ways I was comfortable with and the work was created within safe, familiar parameters. As an example my MFA degree show, piece. I am not dissatisfied with it, but I think that the sound is safe, it worked with the context of the installation, but I would be hesitant to have the sound stand-alone.

This piece for the “New Ruins’ show was the first real stand alone sound piece. There were a number of factors that went into this, firstly the exhibition space. The show was co-curated by Amy Sales (EmergeD) an Australian curator who lives in Glasgow. (*the focus of EmergeD is to show work in spaces out-with the conventional gallery space), and Tai Snaith an Australian artist and curator who is also involved with EmergeD. The show was held in the City Watch House, which is a prison of sorts that borders Melbourne’s courthouse. There were thirteen artists, seven from Melbourne and six from Glasgow. The basis of the project was to have an international residency prior to the opening of the show, so that each person’s work would not only be site specific but also site responsive.

In anticipation of this, Amy showed us images of the site in Dec 2006 to jump-start the thinking process, and get a feel for where each artist would like to show their work. One of the images was of the padded cell, and Amy suggested to me that she thought I should make a piece for this space in particular. At that time I still thought I would be going to Melbourne and I said I would consider the space alongside another space I had in mind. To be honest I wasn’t that interested in the padded cell and wanted a slightly larger space to create an installation more akin to what I had done at Tramway for my MFA degree show.

paddedcell.jpg
padded cell

melbourne1.jpgI liked this space alot

other-cell.jpg This one as well….

In Jan, it became pretty obvious due to scheduling that I wasn’t going to be able to go to Melbourne for the residency or the show, so the work I created needed to be able to sent either with someone else going or through the post. The padded cell came back into the picture because I couldn’t ask someone to make a huge installation of mine whilst they were also making something in situ. So I scrapped all my other ideas and started to think about small work, easy to ship, but still dealing with the creation of an ineffable experience within the context of a jail.

I spent a few days just staring at the padded cell trying to get my head around it, both as a space, and as a place. I had only created two previous site responsive pieces before (in the Merchant City space with EmergeD) and I wasn’t sure how to respond to a site I had never been to. Also I wasn’t that excited by the huge context that the space was already providing. I didn’t want to deal with all the things that come up with a padded room, especially a padded room in a jail. I had a long conversation with my friend G about contexts and how best to acknowledge a pre-existing context whilst creating my own. (I sort of look at the relationship that I have with my work and the conversations I have with G about this to be collaborative in a way. Whilst she isn’t sitting there and working with me on the work, we are collaborating in an abstract way through conversations that have a tremendous effect on the out come of the work.) Through our conversation(s), G pointed out there was no way to eradicate the padded cell’s context, but the work if done right can refer to it whilst creating a new context. From there we talked about the kind of context I wanted to infer. I really wanted the work to create a sense of anxiety and melancholy, but not in a prison sense, but more generally. To create the kind of low-grade worry that exists in the bottom of your stomach, one that remains constant. This was the only way I felt comfortable working in the padded cell.

So with this in mind, I spent a lot of time thinking about it without doing anything. How best to respond to a site you will not be seeing, in a site responsive manner? Do you make a video, do you make a small sculpture that can be reassembled on site, or do you make a sound work. Part of my research up to this point (I still do this) was to create a library of sounds so that I would have material to work with. It was from this library that I got my audio material. In my bathroom in my flat there is a broken exhaust fan. I never gave it much thought because it was broken, but that particular winter was really windy and a low humming drone like sound was constantly coming out of the broken fan. I recorded about 45 minutes of this. I didn’t start working on the piece until about 3 days before I was to send it off to Amy. I just didn’t know what it was I wanted from the work or what I wanted the sound to be, I was really stuck and unsure of how to precede. I would come into my office and stare at the image of the padded cell and listen to the sounds I had and sort of grimace because nothing was happening.

Then I went in one day and imported the audio files into Pro Tools (sound editing program) and it just started to happen, I had already decided that the work was going to be played off MP3 players and headphones, and I had sent a pair of Numark speakers to Australia (because I had originally thought I was doing a video with a sound component) but the final form of how the work was going to be played came in the editing process. When I edited this work I was using a pair of headphones: A. the work was going to be played on headphones and the headphones I had were of a better quality then standalone speakers. So it was like a constant headphone shifting around, and I sort of heard the track I was editing playing over another track that was more ambient, and it just worked. It contextually fit both the padded cell and my own needs.

Basically the install was as such. 5 Sony Discmen all with the same CD, containing one track, which was to be played on repeat, I had asked that the volume be set so it was loud enough to hear the track playing through the headphones, but quiet to hear the track playing through the Numarks. One set of Numark speakers, which were to be placed on the floor out of the way in an inconspicuous manner playing one track that was about 50 minutes long on, repeat continuously. The volume of these speakers was to be neither quite nor loud, but ambient. Amy and I had been in contact via email and a few phone calls because she was now in Melbourne so I DHLed her work and crossed my fingers. Both Amy and Katri (who I hired to install/de-install and document the work for me) further helped the installation by deciding the space should be dark and people should have torches (flashlights).

Very basically this is how the viewer would experience the work: at the door they would be given a torch and the Discman with a set of ok but not great headphones. The invigilator would briefly explain the headphones and the ambient sound and then off they would go. People were allowed to spend as little or as much time as they would like and only 5 people at a time could enter because there were only 5 Discmen.

I have to go on what other people tell me, but it seemed that the work went over really well, and was successful in a general sense, but was it successful in a research sense?

From a practical point of view, yes it was successful. At this particular stage of the research (summer 2007) I am asking questions not just about creating the work but how best to display/project the work to best enable an ineffable experience. Is it to be an internal installation (headphones) or is it to be an external installation (speakers)? I spend quite a bit of time wrestling with this question, when in fact if I use this particular piece as a model, it doesn’t matter in the abstract if it’s headphones or speakers. What matters is the context surrounding the work. The context will answer the question about internal or external,

Was the work ineffable? I wasn’t asking this question in a direct manner? I was asking a lot of questions around the work, but never directly was it ineffable. I have prepared a semi-structured questionnaire that I will send to people involved with the project in order to get a more comprehensive response. But based on conversations with Amy and Katri and others who heard the work, the experience was more than merely hearing some sound in a padded cell. Does that make it ineffable, not necessarily, but looking at Ric Spencer’s quote above, I have to interpret his response as ineffable regardless of how good or bad it made him feel. Did this piece better able me to figure out a methodological approach. Well not explicitly because at the time I made it I wasn’t even sure what methods I was going to use, but now yes, I understand how to structure questions, and which methods to use to best gather the data generated by the work.

Lastly, I sent the work off to Australia without a title, because I didn’t want people to have too much info, at the time I thought this was me being clever, but it’s not the most clever act, and I have since retro-actively re-titled the work. ‘i have secrets of my own’ 2006. I know what it means for me, but it’s still open ended enough to contextualize the work and acknowledge the context of the padded cell.

In Jan, it became pretty obvious due to scheduling that I wasn’t going to be able to go to Melbourne for the residency or the show, so the work I created needed to be able to sent either with someone else going or through the post. The padded cell came back into the picture because I couldn’t ask someone to make a huge installation of mine whilst they were also making something in situ. So I scrapped all my other ideas and started to think about small work, easy to ship, but still dealing with the creation of an ineffable experience within the context of a jail.

I spent a few days just staring at the padded cell trying to get my head around it, both as a space, and as a place. I had only created two previous site responsive pieces before (in the Merchant City space with EmergeD) and I wasn’t sure how to respond to a site I had never been to. Also I wasn’t that excited by the huge context that the space was already providing. I didn’t want to deal with all the things that come up with a padded room, especially a padded room in a jail. I had a long conversation with my friend G about contexts and how best to acknowledge a pre-existing context whilst creating my own. (I sort of look at the relationship that I have with my work and the conversations I have with G about this to be collaborative in a way. Whilst she isn’t sitting there and working with me on the work, we are collaborating in an abstract way through conversations that have a tremendous effect on the out come of the work.) Through our conversation(s), G pointed out there was no way to eradicate the padded cell’s context, but the work if done right can refer to it whilst creating a new context. From there we talked about the kind of context I wanted to infer. I really wanted the work to create a sense of anxiety and melancholy, but not in a prison sense, but more generally. To create the kind of low-grade worry that exists in the bottom of your stomach, one that remains constant. This was the only way I felt comfortable working in the padded cell.

So with this in mind, I spent a lot of time thinking about it without doing anything. How best to respond to a site you will not be seeing, in a site responsive manner? Do you make a video, do you make a small sculpture that can be reassembled on site, or do you make a sound work. Part of my research up to this point (I still do this) was to create a library of sounds so that I would have material to work with. It was from this library that I got my audio material. In my bathroom in my flat there is a broken exhaust fan. I never gave it much thought because it was broken, but that particular winter was really windy and a low humming drone like sound was constantly coming out of the broken fan. I recorded about 45 minutes of this. I didn’t start working on the piece until about 3 days before I was to send it off to Amy. I just didn’t know what it was I wanted from the work or what I wanted the sound to be, I was really stuck and unsure of how to precede. I would come into my office and stare at the image of the padded cell and listen to the sounds I had and sort of grimace because nothing was happening.

Then I went in one day and imported the audio files into Pro Tools (sound editing program) and it just started to happen, I had already decided that the work was going to be played off MP3 players and headphones, and I had sent a pair of Numark speakers to Australia (because I had originally thought I was doing a video with a sound component) but the final form of how the work was going to be played came in the editing process. When I edited this work I was using a pair of headphones: A. the work was going to be played on headphones and the headphones I had were of a better quality then standalone speakers. So it was like a constant headphone shifting around, and I sort of heard the track I was editing playing over another track that was more ambient, and it just worked. It contextually fit both the padded cell and my own needs.

Basically the install was as such. 5 Sony Discmen all with the same CD, containing one track, which was to be played on repeat, I had asked that the volume be set so it was loud enough to hear the track playing through the headphones, but quiet to hear the track playing through the Numarks. One set of Numark speakers, which were to be placed on the floor out of the way in an inconspicuous manner playing one track that was about 50 minutes long on, repeat continuously. The volume of these speakers was to be neither quite nor loud, but ambient. Amy and I had been in contact via email and a few phone calls because she was now in Melbourne so I DHLed her work and crossed my fingers. Both Amy and Katri (who I hired to install/de-install and document the work for me) further helped the installation by deciding the space should be dark and people should have torches (flashlights).

Very basically this is how the viewer would experience the work: at the door they would be given a torch and the Discman with a set of ok but not great headphones. The invigilator would briefly explain the headphones and the ambient sound and then off they would go. People were allowed to spend as little or as much time as they would like and only 5 people at a time could enter because there were only 5 Discmen.

I have to go on what other people tell me, but it seemed that the work went over really well, and was successful in a general sense, but was it successful in a research sense?

From a practical point of view, yes it was successful. At this particular stage of the research (summer 2007) I am asking questions not just about creating the work but how best to display/project the work to best enable an ineffable experience. Is it to be an internal installation (headphones) or is it to be an external installation (speakers)? I spend quite a bit of time wrestling with this question, when in fact if I use this particular piece as a model, it doesn’t matter in the abstract if it’s headphones or speakers. What matters is the context surrounding the work. The context will answer the question about internal or external,

Was the work ineffable? I wasn’t asking this question in a direct manner? I was asking a lot of questions around the work, but never directly was it ineffable. I have prepared a semi-structured questionnaire that I will send to people involved with the project in order to get a more comprehensive response. But based on conversations with Amy and Katri and others who heard the work, the experience was more than merely hearing some sound in a padded cell. Does that make it ineffable, not necessarily, but looking at Ric Spencer’s quote above, I have to interpret his response as ineffable regardless of how good or bad it made him feel. Did this piece better able me to figure out a methodological approach. Well not explicitly because at the time I made it I wasn’t even sure what methods I was going to use, but now yes, I understand how to structure questions, and which methods to use to best gather the data generated by the work.

Lastly, I sent the work off to Australia without a title, because I didn’t want people to have too much info, at the time I thought this was me being clever, but it’s not the most clever act, and I have since retro-actively re-titled the work. ‘i have secrets of my own’ 2006. I know what it means for me, but it’s still open ended enough to contextualize the work and acknowledge the context of the padded cell.

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06
Aug
07

Bit of tide shift

So as I am shifting the tide a bit and the next few posts are going to be focused on my practice, I figured I would begin with a sound piece I installed in a group show in Melbourne Australia last year. As there is more to come I will just put the article below. I have made bold the sentence that refers to my work. (from the Western Australian newspaper)

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

WA Artists Ride East Coast Wave

Ric Spencer

Western Australian artists are well represented in the Empire Games in Melbourne. No, they’re not throwing shot put, they’re involved in this year’s Next Wave Festival, a biannual event which this year is running alongside the Commonwealth Games.

In response to the Commonwealth Games Next Wave Festival has thrown up the old title Empire Games to a new generation of artists who perhaps have never heard of it and who have a very different idea of empire anyway, namely global corporations and the USA. It is apparent from their work that the younger generation of artists involved in the Next Wave Festival far from aspiring to global empiricism desire individual freedoms and a social ethics they don’t identify with in the term “empire”.

Next Wave has brought into Melbourne young artists from all over the globe into a space concerned with dialogue and the filtering of ideas. Much of the work comes across as anti-corporation, anti-resource ownership, anti-winning at all costs and the development between public forum, political discussion and the idol of sport and its media obsession has manifested some articulate shows. For instance out at Docklands a shed on the harbour has been filled to the hilt with shipping containers which are being used as mini gallery spaces by artists and artist run organizations from everywhere. The containers set up a kind of city within a city and you can walk around meeting artists and wander in and out of resource centres. Some of them are real bomb sites.

At Kings ARI on King Street in the city you can meet an audience of Jerry Springer up close and personal through a number of video portraits taken on set by the artist. Out at the Meat Market the viewer can enter a hyper-real mini mart which encourages shopping but not buying. This is sport where the audience is just market research.

Also at the Meat Market Perth based Hannah Matthews has put together Winners are Grinners, to be seen at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art in November/December. Built on the premise that history is written by the victors Winners are Grinners is a highly political look at why some people win and some people will always lose. The cynicism in Winners are Grinners is spread on pretty thick but equally it is very honest in its response to world events and our culture where winning makes you a winner, regardless of how you play the game. The exhibition includes Marcus Canning and Bennett Miller from Perth. Miller has reworked his putt putt courses which we’ve seen in a couple of shows in Perth. His Golf Wars this time pits Koffler v Al Jabr.

Canning’s Midas is an impressive chandelier type object which, within a projection, rotates slowly like a gold planet. Close ups, complete with dry ice for effect reveal the large object to be made of figurines taken from trophies. This is an excellent piece which highlights the obsessive yet equally tacky nature of not only winning but how it is celebrated in our culture. What better way of commenting on this than to see our stature gilded planet, circling endlessly, from outer space. Of the other works David Briggs hard hitting paintings are completely confronting and Fiona McMonagle’s water colour portraits sit in a confusing and eerie space.

A short tram ride away and directly behind RMIT is Melbourne’s City Watch House. For Next Wave a group of Scotland based and Victorian based artists have got together to produce New Ruins, which transforms, but doesn’t over power the holding cells into a series of site specific works.

Curated by ex Perth and now Glasgow based Amy Sales and Tai Snaith from Melbourne, New Ruins asks some very serious questions about how we judge winners and how the losers fair. Each artist was given one holding cell to work in, developing works as disparate as twisted and crumbling pidgeon coops, sand castles and a completely unsettling sound piece in the padded cell.

Martine Myrup’s video piece of small film model buildings being variously blown up, knocked down and set on fire seemed very apt and Danny Holcroft’s large cut out sign of the opening date gets inside the displacement of time in such a setting. Like wise Michael Tait’s series of flashing LED alarm clocks tells of loss and regret, as does the title of his work: Start Achieving Your Goals Today. Ex Perth boy Jensen Tjhung, now based in Melbourne, has completely rebuilt a TAB in one of the cells. With a myriad of poetic readings the TAB possibly sums up the attitude of Empire Games and New Wave Festival as it attempts to set up links between our obsessive compulsive attitude to winning and its underlying acceptance as a dogma to build cultures upon.

05
Aug
07

The German Romanticisim thing

I may actually remember what this was about……more to come later

04
Aug
07

Entry18(reflexivejournal004) Aesthetics and the Art Ensemble of Chicago

reflexivejournal004-copy.jpg

4 August 2007

This is actually exciting because for the time being this is the last post about a note, the next couple in the future will be dealing with work and other bits…

So ‘aesthetics based on history’…. I am not surprised that I have made a note that deals with aesthetics but I am also a bit surprised because my visual aesthetic is quite developed and fairly decided upon. I am going to assume I was thinking about sound where I have less of a history therefore I am/was a bit more hesitant to make decisions or bold statements on my sound work and the way it uhhh, sounds. I mean this is probably where I was going a few posts ago with the whole Kylie Sunn O))) debate. Does the sound work I make sound the way it does because I actually want it to sound that way or because I am so heavily influenced by what is already out there, my thinking has become stunted in some manner.

The thing is, the work has a certain sound because foremost that’s what I want; second it helps establish the context of the work. I have not met the person who has listened to a sound piece of mine and says ‘Dude, it’s so obvious you loooove Kylie’. (I wouldn’t actually object to that, I might make a big deal about it and say I object, but secretly I’m loving it). Thirdly my aesthetic in sound has been informed through active listening and research, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to alter it, I am just not sure I know how. As well, recognizing I have a certain aesthetic after the fact, is it even possible to change something that can change that radically? Or has it been so informed that some of my choices are only partially conscious? Is it possible I am only half aware of why I am choosing to make the sound be a certain way because half of my decision making is so inherent it’s beyond unconscious? Besides liking something, how does one begin to construct an aesthetic mindset? What are guidelines and or ways in which we do decide this is how we want the work to look and sound? I have seen enough documentaries to understand a fair bit of it is influence, you like something so you strive to recreate, but when does it become your own? I want my sound work to be both important in some way, but more importantly I want it to be mine, you should be able to hear what I like when you listen to it, but more importantly you should be able to hear what it is I am trying to say, and maybe aesthetics both help and hinder. Just because you are saying something, doesn’t necessarily mean anybody is able to comprehend it.

I don’t know, I think it’s worth continually revisiting.

The other note is just that, a note. All though I would say if you have never heard The Art Ensemble of Chicago get thee to a record store, stat.

Links:

http://www.artensembleofchicago.com/index.html

http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/M046 (on aesthetics)

04
Aug
07

Entry17 (reflexivejournal001,009) Kukla and the 3 Kinds of ineffability

randomnotes009-copy.jpg

randomnotes001-copy.jpg

4 August 2007

So kind of thought it was time to mix it up a bit, back to random notes. Where what I am disseminating often comes from snippets of notes from tutorials, me sitting on the bus etc. It’s a grab bag of random fun.

So the 10th of April at 10 AM. This note is obviously from a tutorial I had with one of my supervisors. It’s not super exciting as far as notes go there is a fair bit of it that makes no sense at all, which is kind of fun. Probably the most useful bit is ‘understanding in the world through experience’ I do like the arrow that points to ‘no account methods’, I was actually trying to write no accountable methods. If this is actually the case I am in a bit of trouble research wise. But this statement references at least half of the stuff I was writing about today. In the last post I was looking into what is the inherent factor within ourselves that allows us to converse with work, and here I am speaking about comprehension of the world through experience. But is this really the case, I am going to use a really hot topic as an example, if you send an 18 year kid to war, and train him to kill people does he understand the world better when he’s come back and has perhaps, killed someone? What does this teach this kid, what does it affect, what doesn’t it affect? It’s just his own actions that will changed him but the world he was immersed in? How will this enhance his understanding of the world?

Look, I don’t know. I am not sure you can ever actually understand the bigger picture with any clarity because it’s so big. So let’s narrow it down, will our worldly experiences enable us to better understand ineffable art? I have kind of mentioned this before in this forum but I might as well go all the way now. In a conversation I had with a philosopher here in Glasgow about the ineffable, she asked me what kind of ineffable I am/working with? I am pretty sure I gave her a blank stare and tried to keep stupid comments like ‘the scratch and sniff kind’ at bay. She then proceeded to explain the three different kinds of ineffability to me. One: the kind of ineffable that is all around us everyday. As an example if you look at a glass of cranberry juice, we can both say it’s red but I can never know your red, and you can never know mine. It’s an immersive ineffability; some aspect of everything is in some way ineffable. Two: the ineffable where the definition able to be relayed in our language but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be relayed in another language. In his text ‘Ineffability and Philosophy by André Kukla uses this model to explain.

‘Let’s change the scenario so that we humans play the role of the Saturnians. We discover that there are Saturnians and Plutonians, and that they both have languages. How do we know? Because we have no difficulty translating either language into English. We find, however, that Saturnian and Plutonian are incommensurable with each other. In this situation we do not have to evaluate the testimony of anybody else. Appeals to Hume’s argument are therefore not in order. We know that Saturnian and Plutonian are mutually incommensurable directly. This question, of course, is whether such a thing can actually happen. Also, supposing that it can happen, what would that mean that Davidson’s thesis is fake’ (Kukla p.41 2005).

At this time the beginning of that quote is more important to the end, so I won’t go into breaking down the whole thing and getting to Davidson just yet.

Third: this is the kind of ineffable that I am/working with, that which exists out-with any form of language and is explained and or disseminated through other means. Simply there is no way to explain it with words.

As the third kind of ineffable what is our contextual framework, how is our perception of the world better enabling us to understand the ineffable? My ineffable experiences are not out in the world, rather there are in extremely specific contexts involving art and music/sound. So then the world within this context has to be smaller or does it? Lets go back to Rothko. I look at a Rothko and I feel a wide variety of things, one of them being melancholic, now I do not just feel melancholic because of my past experiences with art, but also because of past situations and my chemical make up. So then the outside world affects my personal feelings regardless of both the artistic context as well as the context of presentation, and I feel these things when viewing Rothko because he to was melancholic or because something ineffable happened? Did the ineffable happen because both Rothko and I are depressed? I don’t know, but it’s worth thinking about. But what is the affect of the ‘real world’ or is there any actual real world affect? Is my thinking to cloistered?

(Self as subject) More notes from a tutorial. I am including these notes because almost all the other notes are archived notes from the beginning of the PhD, and this particular note is from June. It seems quite focused on methodology and gaining a greater comprehension, part of that is to do with where I am in the research time line. The other part has a lot to do with the leap in thinking. I know my notes are super illuminating and can be a bit evasive and all over the shop but the level of questioning has in my mind obviously progressed and I thought it was worthwhile to show that.