Stretch & Burn was part of Dyad Creative’s curated programme of month-long residences held in the project space at Dove Street Studios, Norwich. My residency concluded with a public exhibition and live sound art performance piece on the private view.
As the poster above outlines, it was a playful deconstruction of sound and its materials, resulting in forms both sonic and sculptural. Instead of producing one large scale installation, my focus was producing numerous smaller pieces, each linking together conceptually or through the medium it was presented on. Works either responded to the space itself (the acoustics in particular), found materials and objects in the studio/nearby or developing previously exhibited pieces.
General Overview of the Public Exhibition:
Information on each work (click on the imagesto enlarge / for further information):
Dry Rose Branches and Dead Birds Can’t Sing
A copy of Bird Sounds in Close Up by Victor C. Lewis is mounted onto a prepared log, a dried rose bush branch suspended from the ceiling carefully balances (from a single thorn) on the LP playing surface. Several bird skulls and feathers are also discreetly positioned on it. Though a sculptural work, sharp thorns do have the capability to play back vinyl records as demonstrated on the audio track above.
For Personal Well Being
A motorised wooden rod is suspended from the ceiling, whilst moving it delicately hits the inside rim of a small Tibetan singing bowl. The resulting sound is a pleasantly relaxing one, to assist with amplification a contact microphone is positioned under the bowl. To provide a more intimate listening experience for visitors a pair of headphones are provided.
Playing With Your Broken Self
A broken 10” 78 RPM record is presented on a plinth, along with a gramophone tonearm. The smallest and sharpest broken shard is screwed into the sound box much like a needle, the shard rests on the empty segment it was lifted from.
Empty Gas Canister / Fire Escape Loop
The vast floor space on offer enabled me to create this extended site specific 50 second reel-to-reel tape loop. A sizeable metal fire escape outside and several empty gas canisters were the primary sound sources, using a combination of a contact microphone and vintage reel-to-reel microphone during recording. In addition, rubber glockenspiel mallets, violin bow and coil springs were utilised. A dense noisy composition resulted, the amplified deep rumbling from the fire escape sounded particularly foreboding. The reel-to-reel unit (a 1950’s English model) produced a distinctly lo-fi and slightly muffled quality to the recordings, which interestingly degraded slowly after extensive playback. An additional loop was also created, the motor from the reel-to-reel player and magnetic tape running over the gas canister where amplified and recorded. This resulted in a much quieter almost ambient/drone piece.
Keep on Rolling (all three versions)
Developing a piece originally devised for the Listen. group sound art exhibition held last year, three versions for Stretch & Burn were created. Keep on Rolling (12” Version) features a modified 12” vinyl record version of Keep On Rolling by Jean Mathew with 12 table tennis balls allowed to roll freely across the playing surface. The tonearm is adapted enabling the balls to gently hit against it, producing a rhythmic and almost meditative sound work. Keep on Rolling (7” Version) and Keep on Rolling (Ball Version) are linked via a modified wireless microphone transmitting to a VHF receiver setup downstairs in the studio area. The 7” Version (again, Keep On Rolling by Jean Mathew) is adapted like the 12” Version, the key difference is the sound produced from the balls hitting the tonearm is transmitting and playing through the single speaker on the Ball Version. The sound causes the single ball resting on top of the speaker to move freely as depicted in the video documentation.
Feed the Birds / The Postcode Song Posted to Myself without the Postcode
Feed the Birds is a collaboration with artist Jeroen Diepenmaat. A 7” lathe cut record containing an experimental field recording (built around bird song) is meticulously covered with mixed bird seed. To make the record playable you would literally require birds to feed off the record until the playing surface is exposed. Released on Quagga Curious Sounds in an edition of nine copies.
The Postcode Song Posted to Myself without the Postcode features twenty 5p stamps mounted onto a 1986 copy of The Postcode Song 7” vinyl single by Kerry. Originally issued by The Post Office to get people to use their postcode on letters, as the title suggests I posted it to myself missing off the postcode.
Exactly two minutes of compact audio cassette tape is mounted into two adapted dental floss dispensers. The audio tape contains a live unedited recording of brushing my teeth one evening before going to bed.
Car Crashes Smashes
An experimental six second compact audio cassette loop containing various samples of car crash sounds on side A & B. Various wing mirror fragments (picked up near a minor collision on Dereham Road, Norwich) are fixed inside the tape shell, acting as guide rollers. Though playable, it would result in the magnetic tape being quickly shredded by the sharp mirror fragments.
Grinding of Old Teeth and Bone (Necro Loop)
19th century animal teeth and bone remnants are carefully mounted inside a cassette tape shell, these act as guide rollers for a morbid eight second tape loop. A small section of the loop runs outside the tape shell and through another animal bone. The loop itself contains two textured recordings of teeth and bone being grinded and rubbed against each other.
Candle in the Wind Noise
A crude mono lathe cutter was constructed during my residency, this enabled me to cut various samples of wind noise onto inexpensive wax candles. Each candle holds approximately 18 – 21 seconds of sound on the cylindrical surface, comparable in some ways to a phonograph cylinder. Playback is difficult due to the soft nature of the wax, a recording however was obtained from one candle, which has a little recognisable sound creeping through the surface noise.
Dove Street Loops
A cassette tape diary of sorts, largely documenting live experiments with reel-to-reel loops in the studio space. Each of the ten tapes has a one-minute running time (30 seconds per side), they were recorded without listening to what I was actually recording.
Luggage Lock Lathe Cut Locked
An experimental 0.75” lathe cut record presented on a small luggage padlock. Both sides hold six seconds of sound, which are two recordings of the lock locking then unlocking itself.
The sound of glass bottles smashing inside a bottle bank unceasingly plays on this single 1.6 second locked groove lathe cut record.
Smashing 78 78 RPM Records and Playing Smashed 78 RPM Records with 78 RPM Records
Live Sound Art piece performed at the private view.
Instructions/structure of the performance:
- Stand three steps up the ladder.
- One by one throw each record onto the board below.
- Once all records are smashed get down from the ladder.
- Use duct tape to hastily reconstruct a shattered record.
- Play back the reconstructed record using the sharp edge from another broken record.