Ambitious contemporary installation is rarely seen in the rural UK and when it is, it is often corralled in designated cultural spaces (Grizedale, Margam, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park etc.). Even more anathema is the notion of transforming a much-loved natural beauty spot through artistic intervention. ADEPT (the co-practice of Shanaz Gulzar and Steve Manthorp) propose to do just that - and on a bold scale - but in a context that reimagines and reinvents that site in a manner that is both respectful and appropriate; and which uses technologies that have no subsequent impact on the site.
Malham Cove is a remarkable limestone cliff in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and on the route of the Pennine Way. It is listed by Visit Britain as the second of the UK’s ten natural wonders, yet is comparatively little known outside Yorkshire.
The Cove was originally formed 50,000 years ago, towards the end of the last ice age. The limestone pavement and 80 metre high, 300 metre wide cliff was originally a huge waterfall fed by the meltwater of a dwindling glacier. With a greater drop than the Niagara Falls, the falls at Malham must have been an incredible sight. It is entirely plausible that human eyes witnessed them at their most powerful. The first modern humans arrived in Britain at least 31,000 years ago, 19,000 years before the meltwater finally dried, around 12,000 BC.
Cataract will be an artistic palimpsest, a shadow of the past written on the face of the present. It will give audiences the opportunity to see and hear, for the first time in 14 millennia, water cascading down the limestone cliff-face. In Cataract, ADEPT propose to recreate the ancient waterfall as an ambitious site-specific projection on a huge scale, mapped to fit the cliff-face and accompanied by a thunderous audio track.
Cataract will challenge some audiences’ notions of the pastoral. It may raise issues around what forms of artistic intervention are appropriate in a rural setting. As a work it is paradoxical. It is highly artificial; a complex, technologically mediated imposition upon the landscape: yet it is also an attempt to reveal a truth about the natural forces that shaped that landscape. It brings light, movement and noise to a spot that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year for the peace & stillness they find there. That movement and noise, however, is a reconstruction and echo of the waters that cascaded thunderously over the Cove for 38,000 years.
We have carried out desktop research of waterfalls of similar height, breadth and structure to Malham Cove. Very few approach the scale of the Malham Falls of the Upper Paleolithic. Chinak Merú in Venezuela, Dettifoss in Iceland, Niagara Falls in USA/Canada, Jog Falls in India, Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe and the Cataratas del Iguazú in Brazil, all offer similarities in scale & geography. Of these, the closest geographical analogue would appear to be Chinak Merú: the best ‘fill’ across the entire breadth of the cove, however, would appear to be offered by the Cataratas del Iguazú.
ADEPT will visit one of these sites and record high resolution video with high bitrate audio from a position similar to the projection position at Malham. We will work with one of our frequent projection hire partners, QED or Lumen, to map the projection across Malham cove using multiple HD projectors accompanied by amplified audio. Kit will be powered by silent, low or no emission generators.
The projection will be run from dusk to an agreed switch-off time and for a period negotiated in collaboration with Artangel, Yorkshire Dales National Park and Kirkby Malhamdale Parish Council. Several Yorkshire Dales National Park and Parish Council members are sympathetic to critically engaged art and have previously supported artistic projects and programmes as tourism initiatives.
ADEPT will schedule Cataract for a period towards the end of the tourist season, when there is a still a substantial tourist population in the Dales but twilight falls early enough to allow visitors to visit the installation and return to their homes or their accommodations at a reasonable hour (This will also be outside the Peregrine Falcon breeding season; Peregrines nest annually in the Cove, attracting scores of birdwatchers and wildlife photographers every day). We will also cost-in return coach trips from Leeds and Bradford for audiences throughout the run of the projection.
ADEPT anticipate that the concept, scale and ambition of Cataract will attract regional and national publicity and debate. Extensive and intensive pre-planning by ADEPT and Artangel in collaboration with Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Parish Council, countryside professionals and Malham village residents will ensure that publicity is positive and that debate is informed and supported by key stakeholders.
‘Keeping up with the Kapulets’ will be a live stage performance with the primary aim of analysing the impact of the Reality TV phenomenon on contemporary culture. An episode of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ will be brought to life by melodramatic Shakespearean actors in period costume. By changing its mode of delivery I aim to raise the credibility of Reality TV, thereby encouraging the audience to reconsider its content and intellectual worth. I want to shine a light on society’s engrained snobbery towards the Arts and to question why we value one piece of entertainment more highly than another.
Reality television shows are an integral part of modern television viewing, however despite their popularity they are commonly seen as a form of cheap, lowbrow trash with which to fill television schedules. It follows that many people consider Reality TV unworthy of intellectual study, whilst at the same time the attitudes, fashion styles and life choices of its’ stars, who are so prominent in the public eye, are continuously fed into wider culture.
‘Keeping up with the Kapulets’ will initially be performed as two live performances, one in Crawley in West Sussex and one in London. My future ambition would be to tour this to other locations across the country. It will be documented as a film that I intend to use for spinoff events across the country.
This performance will be a crucial turning point for my artistic development as it is the first piece I have created on such a large scale. Although I have worked with film and performance in the past, much of my work has concentrated on painting and photography. I have featured centrally, either in isolation or with volunteers who have been willing to work with my ideas. I have successfully collaborated with Nick Knight and Jefferson Hack on a 3-minute film for ShowStudio and the experience of working with others who know the intricacies of their own media has not only helped me develop my own ideas but has also taught me how to portray them through performance and film. By working in collaboration with actors, a director and a filmmaker I hope to learn a lot about the art of performance and how performance can play a role in my art.
'Pitchy Breath Theatre Company' are a project based community theatre company from my hometown Crawley, West Sussex who I became aware of through their performances at my local theatre (The Hawth). Their objective is to adapt classical theatre, such as Mollere and Shakespeare, for a modern audience. They are keen to be involved in this project as it fits very much with their ethos. Six actors have committed to the rehearsals and final performance. Ross McClure is a London based director and editor. I have worked with Ross previously and the quality of his practice is perfect for this project. He will be documenting the process by filming the rehearsals and the final performance. David Heley is a local director who specialises in Shakespearean plays. In recent years he has directed 'Macbeth', 'Taming of the Shrew' and 'Much Ado About Nothing' at The Hawth in Crawley. I believe his experience will give the play the melodramatic edge it needs to make it a success.
The first live performance will take place in Crawley, West Sussex and will be open to the public. Crawley is a socially and culturally diverse town comprising people of all ages, yet despite this it is also known as being relatively uninspiring. With the unique and humorous nature of this work, and because popular culture is something that affects everyone, I am aiming to engage all members of the public and leave a lasting impression and food for thought. By showcasing local talent I also hope to increase the profile of Crawley’s creative arts scene. The second will take place at London to gain further interest in the work.
I will target local schools in Crawley to engage English, Drama and Media students. Analysis of Reality television is currently on the syllabus for A-level media studies and following consultations with local teachers, they feel this piece would have huge educational worth. The live performance will be followed by a Q&A and because it will be filmed, it is my intention to make the video available as an educational resource.
The video will also be available for use within other theatres and art galleries, where it may be projected onto a wall and viewed in a makeshift auditorium. This will make the piece more widely accessible and enable it to be shown both nationally and internationally. I hope that this will create further opportunities for engagement with the public over the coming months and years, through workshops and other events. Snippets of the video will also be showcased via social media, thereby increasing viewer numbers further.
I aim to reach my target audience by utilising social media and through a combination of local and national press. My work is very shareable on social media and is regularly shared by others. Most recently I shared a piece of work on Facebook which was shared 36 times and then a further 58 times by ‘The Real Art of Protest’ who have 168K fans. I am followed on Twitter by major feminist networks, such as No More Page Three and UK Feminista, who regularly retweet me to thousands. I have featured in The Independent, who have described me as ‘a brilliant self-publicist’. They have covered me on a number of occasions, including a four page spread for my ‘It’s a Girl!’ solo show in 2012. I have also featured in The Guardian and BBC News have covered both my UK solo shows. I will utilise these contacts, and those I have made since, when this show opens. I anticipate that the novelty of this project, plus the popularity of 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians', will itself generate a lot of interest both online and in the national press.
Quartz is an essential constituent of granite, and other igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Examples of quartz are plentiful in both the natural and man-made world.
Quartz crystals have what is known as piezoelectric properties, which means electricity resulting from pressure. Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials (such as quartz crystals) in response to applied mechanical stress.
Piezoelectricity is used in the production and detection of sound; this forms the basis of the science behind crystal radios, crystal microphones, earpieces and buzzers. It is also used in everyday applications such as the movement of quartz watches and as the ignition source for cigarette lighters.
Early electronic gramophones used a piezoelectric crystal for pickup, where the mechanical movement of the stylus in the groove generates a proportional electrical voltage by creating stress within a crystal. This is then channelled through a speaker or earpiece to create sound. Crystal pickups produce a substantial signal level which requires only a modest amount of further amplification to become audible.
Quartz crystal, due to piezoelectricity, is also a favourite among people who use quartz for emotional energy work and communication with the spirit world.
I propose using crystals of quartz residing in nature or within built structures in a similar way to the crystals in gramophone pickups. The movement and vibrations of the environment will create stress within the rock, resulting in an electrical voltage which can be transformed into sound by means of a wire detector on an adjustable arm, and a speaker or earpiece (similar to ‘Cat’s Whisker’ detectors used exactly 100 years ago during the First World War).
A number of different pieces of quartz rock will be wired up to speakers in this way. They may be outside in nature, or within the walls of a building.
I will take expert advice to select an appropriate location and assist in the set-up of the equipment.
Thus the listener will be able to walk through the environment amidst a changing dialogue (heard through amplified speakers) of the sounds of the Earth. Additionally the listener may choose to concentrate on just one quartz rock and listen in private through an earpiece to the soliloquy of sound.
I would like to mark a place, to make a place, in the centre of England; to mark a place of thought, of reflection, and to make a place for these, too. To do this, I would like to build a large structure on farmland in the mile-or-so between the villages of Lindley and Fenny Drayton in rural Leicestershire, near the Warwickshire border.
The form of the structure, and its use, has emerged from a remarkable coincidence of three elements. In Lindley, on 8 February 1577, was born Robert Burton, later to become a scholar at Oxford, and author most famously of The Anatomy of Melancholy, first published in 1621. Just three years later, in July 1624, in the strongly Puritan village of Fenny Drayton (then Drayton-in-the-Clay) was born George Fox, later to become an English Dissenter, and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, more commonly known as the Quakers. Two remarkable people, influential, radical in their own ways (and in many others, too), and born within sight of one another’s villages. And between these two villages is to be found the third element to which I earlier referred: the precise geographic centre of England. If ‘middle England’ has now become a synonym for small-minded conservatism, the middle of England was once a place of radical thought. It is this which I would like to mark, too.
The shape of the built structure has been suggested by the subject of Burton’s book, and will be modelled upon the mysterious form found in Albrecht Dürer’s print, Melencholia I (1514), a shape now more commonly known as Dürer’s solid. Our structure would be mysterious, too, an abstract mathematical form placed incongruously within rural farmland. Its appearance betrays no sense of its use, of what it does, and in some sense it does precisely nothing, except, that is, to provide a place in which one might consider what it is, precisely, one wants to do.
The Collector began when I read a series of novels with very powerful passages involving butterflies; The Satanic Verses, Everything is Illuminated and One Hundred Years of Solitude. In Geoff Dyer’s book The Ongoing Moment, he argues that certain visual elements - such as the blind busker - recur throughout the history of photography and that no matter who the photographer is, the busker is always the same; he is an idea within Photography that photographers share. This background reading lead to my desire to create a piece in which the word butterfly could act as a doorway between all the novels that use it, illustrating both the concept that ideas are pre-existing spaces that artworks occupy and the particular idea being shared by these texts, of butterflies, mortality and the destructive nature of collection.
Many of my works involve underlying structures which govern their particular outcomes. I prefer to make work that, once the parameters have been drawn up, expands according to its own logic. I truly believe that it is only within the constraints of classification, rulemaking or underlying mathematical structures that real creativity can happen. Like the Oulipo, I am interested in the idea that the creative rules I generate might be useful to others. Having said this, I am the author of The Collector and it is important that I have read all of the books that appear in the collection. Although I want it to have an objective, distanced, almost scientific veneer, it is at heart a subjective enterprise governed by the way in which I choose to read and edit the texts included. Although others may create their own versions of The Collector (in languages other than English for example) I anticipate that the expression of these versions would vary significantly from my own.
The Collector works like this:
• Books are added to a grid in the order that I read them. The grid is 15 positions wide and 30 positions long, containing a total of 450 positions.
• The project builds in layers. Each layer represents a book in the collection.
• A passage whose length I determine, but which must contain the words butterfly or butterflies and be no longer than 30 lines long, is selected from each novel.
• The passages are added to the grid word by word in exactly the way in which they appear in the particular edition being used.
• Each word occupies a single position on the grid.
• The first book on the grid is the Satanic Verses. This is the only passage to be included unedited, all subsequent passages are edited to make space for the butterflies.
• Each word in every passage has a grid coordinate, if the second word of the second line in the Satanic Verses is butterfly then every word occupying the same coordinate in every subsequent layer is extracted.
• As more passages from more books are added to the grid it becomes more and more full of butterflies.
• It is estimated that 250 books will fill the grid with butterflies. When this occurs it will be necessary to start a new edition of the collection.
• Only paperback books are used in The Collector. The paper in these books is of such a low quality that it will decay over the lifetime of the project. The Collector not only destroys the books as it includes them but it will also age, rot and disintegrate itself.
• The final piece includes not only the grid but also the books with the excised words.
• There are currently 72 books in the collection.
Rather than have a permanent home, ideally, The Collector will tour contained within a permanent but mobile structure with spaces ready to take books as I read them and add them to the collection. The project is site specific in the sense that it is it’s own site, it is a touring stage on which the logic underpinning it plays out. I envisage this stage as a cell or a series of cells that store the work when it is not on show and which can be assembled within other spaces when the work is exhibited. It would be ideal if The Collector toured empty residential buildings reflecting the intimacy of the collector’s private obsessions. In choosing this type of space I have in mind collectors such as Raymond Briggs who no longer live in their own homes to allow more space for their collections (I believe that he collects gas fires). These collections, like The Collector are infestations repurposing what should have been living spaces and turning them into personal archives.
Whilst The Collector will be a large and growing installation, the rules governing it’s structure will also allow for the creation of a website in which readers are able to access different layers on the grid as they choose. Books containing butterflies can be recommended to me by readers either at the exhibition or through the website. It also seems possible that if the real installation is rotting then the website representing it might also become gradually corrupted.
At the outset of this project I thought that almost any idea could be used to illustrate the concept of ideas as spaces that artists occupy on a temporary basis, the choice of butterflies was almost arbitrary. As my research for this project deepens however I am realising that butterflies are possibly the only literary idea that would allow for such a coherent expression of the underlying concept whilst simultaneously highlighting the metaphorical use to which the books in the collection put the word butterfly. The Collector needs to be a large-scale project in order to make sense, the larger the project becomes, the more clearly it will make its point.
A research-based project documenting how diasporic communities attempt to keep time-based rituals that originated in a different climatic environment. The work will illuminate both the difficulties faced by faith-based communities in trying to perform their rituals out of synch, and the innovative techniques used to adapt these rituals in order to maintain their survival.
In Jewish faith, it is a 'Mitzva' to welcome the Sabbath on the sunset of the previous day. The practice emerged in a hot climate in the Middle East. But Jews abroad get into all kinds of problems in deciphering when the Sabbath arrives in their region, for instance, on a wintry day in Scotland the sun sets before 3pm on a Friday, so all activities must stop then. The issue becomes more complex in the polar regions, which were unknown to the Jewish people at the times when their laws were created.
The title of the piece is a metaphor for the challenges faced by observant religious diasporic communities residing in the UK, who wish to continue with practices that have strong links to another land, climate and environment, which inevitably lose some of their meaning practiced abroad.
The piece would be an triptych exploration of diverse faith-based communities from Muslim, Jewish, and Greek Orthodox backgrounds, who in different ways attempt to maintain their rituals and culture in a British climate and context. The work would especially capture attempt of maintaining time-based acts of faith in foreign soil, and how rituals and customs have to be reinterpreted in order to be maintained.
The work would culminate in a final celebration piece where members of all three participating communities would be invited to take part. The celebration event would be curated as a street ritual for communities in Diaspora. The final event would incorporate and communicate ideas and feelings expressed by participants during the research process. This event would be public and aimed at a wider audience to take part. It would be filmed and presented as the 'invention of a new ritual' for people in Diaspora.
Background - 25 years ago '3 or 4 composers' was formed for a series of performances at the ICA. The group consisted of Laurence Crane, Helen Ottaway, Melanie Pappenheim, Jocelyn Pook and Simon Rackham.
In 1993 they embarked on a series of projects around the theme of the sunken city of Dunwich in Suffolk and its drowned church bells. Three works were created in collaboration with artist and theatre maker Deborah Thomas:
• 'Cherry Red Heat' (1993) was ‘a presentation of ideas’, taking the form of an Installation/performance (with flames created and supervised by the BBC special effects department) at Acme Artists Studios, East London.
• 'Ring' (1994) was a promenade performance in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London as part of the Quick Festival.
• The most ambitious, 'Still Ringing', was a large-scale installation/performance conceived for warehouse spaces. In addition to continuing the association with Deborah Thomas, the group collaborated with Dutch choreographer Thom Stuart, instrument maker Chris Challen and production manager Rachel Shipp. Professional musicians and performers were joined by students of Nottingham Trent and Bristol Universities. (1995 Banana Warehouse, Sneinton Market, Nottingham for Barclays New Stages Regional Festival; 1997 Leadworks Bristol for Arnolfini)
Although the members of 3 or 4 Composers have, over the last 15 years pursued independent artistic careers, there has been a continuing collective desire to conclude the series with a site-specific work at Dunwich itself. A concert of music from the trilogy was mounted in nearby Blythburgh Church with the support of Ian Chance of Wingfield Arts in 1996 and the group were planning a film with writer and environmentalist Roger Deakin before his untimely death in 2006. If this application is successful this new work would finally bring the series to a conclusion locating the project back in Dunwich where it was conceived.
In creating the previous works, 3 or 4 Composers researched the area and the tidal incursions which over many years demolished large areas of the East coast, including the major trading port that was Dunwich. They were inspired by conversations with Marine archaeologist Stuart Bacon, the historical accounts related by Morgan Caines, curator of Dunwich Museum and by testimonies of victims of the floods of 1953 along the coast at Lowestoft. Coastal erosion and flooding has been a continual preoccupation for East Anglia. Now in 2014 the subject is as apt as ever; water is still on all of our minds and the effects of climate change are even more widely recognised as issues of national and global proportions.
Collaboration - Much new exploration has taken place at Dunwich since the group’s research in 1993 including the first underwater film footage of St Peter’s Church in 2010. 3 or 4 Composers are committed to working closely with the local marine archaeologists and research teams to produce work which is complementary to the ongoing research as well as non invasive to the site. Diving and divers will be an integral element of both installation and performance.
Visual - The most striking visual elements from the first event, Cherry Red Heat, will be a central feature of the new work. Cherry Red Heat is the term used by bell founders to describe the optimum casting temperature for bell metal. This will be represented by flames appearing through the beach sand around life-size bell moulds. Illuminated notations and drawings will be chased into the crumbling low cliff face at the back of the beach. This beach installation will gradually erode over a period of weeks as the sea daily washes over it. In the water the intention is to build a large frame of a room that will be sunk off the coast. The 'set' will consist of hanging, swinging furniture, mirrors and lights, enlivened by divers, performers and the tide and the movement of the sea.
Music - A body of music has already been written as the Dunwich theme developed throughout the life of the group. Existing material will be adapted and augmented for much larger forces (100 + voices, possibly with a core of singers from Musarc, the London-based choir of architects, 20 + bell ringers, portable belfry, horns, trumpets and other brass) and more will be written specifically for the new installation/performance.
Performance - The performance will link the installation on the beach and the submerged/floating room in the sea. The beach installation will be available to the public at all times but on performance nights the audience will meet in the early evening for supper at the 12 Lost Churches Cafe, the Ship Inn or the fish and chip shop by the beach before being led to the beach. On the cliff above, a portable belfry (the ghosts of Dunwich’s church bells) will ring out to signal the beginning of the performance. This will begin on the beach; the audience will be encouraged to mingle and drift around the flaming bell cores while the 'ghost room', initially invisible, emerges out of the water pulled into shape by performers with ropes. While the audience remain on the beach, the performers walk/wade into the watery space and continue the performance from the floating room.
The work will be suitable for touring to other coastal, river or reservoir sites, particularly those where buildings, villages or towns have been lost.
Conclusion - Collectively and individually, 3 or 4 Composers are well known for their ability to transform spaces, create an evocative atmosphere and produce memorable and moving performances. Relatively few people experienced the earlier works, but all remember them and some describe 'Still Ringing' as a life-changing event.
* Ring Down: 1. Bring down the curtain at the end of a theatrical performance. 2. A term used in telephony. 3. Cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS), a highly sensitive optical spectroscopic technique. 4. In bell ringing - to take the bells from Up to Down, by ringing them through a decreasing angle of swing. Down - The safe resting position for a bell.
Why the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre
The Elephant & Castle shopping centre opened in 1965 as part of an ambitious vision to regenerate the surrounding area. After many failed efforts to attract interest from prospective investors during 1960s and a series of unsuccessful style and appearance alterations throughout the 1990s, the centre was gradually took the shape, form and character it has today, hosting a series of lively shops and businesses of mainly immigrant population from a variety of destinations.
I first encountered the centre in 2007 when I first moved to London to pursue my Masters studies in the neighboring London College of Communication. Although from a first glance, the shopping centre felt awkward and uninviting, I grew to embrace its difference and value its messy environs as something that genuinely reflected its surrounding communities and life. As opposed to other shopping centres that advocate ruthless and insensible gentrification, this building has a unique character and warmth. This character is present in the acoustic spaces of the building, in the different restaurants, coffee shops and stalls inside and outside it.
Caging the Elephant is my homage to the centre and its title is both a metaphor for an (attained) end and the unattainable and challenging aspiration to capture and keep the stories of something ephemeral, a place that will not be there anymore in the near future.
The main theme
The main theme of the piece will be about the ephemerality of searching, asking, conversing and looking for the Elephant. In the context of the piece, the Elephant, as explained earlier is a metaphor for the multiple stories and sonic environments of the shopping centre. In past work, I worked with the idea of transitions, of opening and closing doors in an effort to create an atmospheric, slow-evolving, non-linear dramaturgy about place. I would like to use the same structure for this piece, as I believe is the most effective for contemplating the different layers of the space. The desired aim is to create a composition that merges historiography, fiction with field recordings and musical gestures in an effort to tell a story. This story is not intended to be THE story of the building but rather my personal interpretation of it, my trajectory to cage the Elephant and to tell its story.
In my current practice and research I have been developing a three stage methodology for composing site specific works that I would like to use for the creation of this particular piece.
1st Stage: Drawing on soundwalking practices, psychogeographical writing techniques and urban listening methodologies, I will conduct initial solitary field visits in the centre that will result in the creation of a short story and the collection of initial field-recordings. The fictional story will outline my points of listening in the building, the shops, areas and sonic thresholds in it that I resonated with.
2nd Stage: The next stage involves the conduction of exploratory walks where I will be discussing with the people who work there as well as visitors. I will be using the text from stage one as a prompt∗ to revisit and explore in depth the areas I am interested in. These walks will be recorded and documented and will be used as resource material for the creation of the work.
3rd Stage: The final stage involves the composition of the work and the finalising of its different elements. Caging The Elephant is primordially an audio composition but its story can be better represented through a constellation of works that compliment it. The audiopiece will have a duration of approximately 30 minutes and it will be part of a booklet. The short story will be used as a score to create the audio composition and the structure of the book.
Tentative Presentation Outcomes
A) A booklet:
The work will have three interwoven narratives: a) the audiopiece, b) images (photographs, other creative responses) and c)writings (the short story and additional self-reflective texts).These will be bound in a limited edition booklet.
B) A user-triggered locative soundscape
In the booklet, the reader can also find a map as an insert that can only be experienced by doing a walk in situ using a mobile platform (e.g. iphone, android). The map will consist of a series of barcodes that the reader can use to trigger sounds while visiting the location. There is no particular order or instructions on how these sounds should be listened to. Each user can create their own unique version of the walk. The sounds will relate to the audio composition and the book but in their locative version their role will be to provide an atmosphere to the walk and engage the walker with the environment and its connection to the book. It will not be a locative narrative or an audioguide but rather a background element in the process.
C) A blog
A blog will be created to give further information about the progress of the project and to disseminate all needed details about it after its completion.
I want to create a type of relational artwork about the constraints and pitfalls of Politics in art & debate. I see the artwork as a framework made up of the filming, the performance by invited artists, the negotiation and documentation of the communication with the civil service, the relationship and documentation of all communications with participating artists and the Houses of Parliament.
I would take advise and recommendations and select artists and other arts professionals who would fit the billing and whose practice is centered around these ideas, currently I think such a project could see a whole host of artists interested in the proposal. Specifically there are obvious but valid candidates, artists from Bob and Roberta Smith to Mark McGowan, writers like JJ Charlesworth and Stewart Home, but at this stage these names are just illustrative. The content of the performance or debate within the chamber could be either scripted or more probably an opportunity for voices about how important arts role is in current affairs and debate. This is an area where the idea would be driven by the participants.
The project proposal will test the willingness of the establishment to engage with a film that is not, I suspect what they envisaged when opening up the House to Film making proposals and I also suspect the project would not be considered appropriate however this is what the artwork will test.
If we fail to receive permissions to use the House from the Speaker John Bercow I would use the budget for the hire of a pre existing set of the House of Commons through the set company Wimbledon Studios.
Wimbledon Studios have sold their set last year for £122000 on ebay. However they may be able to either hire or re-build. So I propose to hire/build or re-build the set and continue the project in this way. In many ways this might be more interesting as the set would also become an artwork*.
The film will be professionally made and edited using Red technology with a full crew etc.
So to be specific the artwork would be in three phases -
1. Research and negotiation documentation.
2. Filming / Performances three days in either the actual House of Commons or in a constructed facsimile.
3. Presentation : Film / archive of correspondence,research and props / House of Commons set*
The original proposal for Ring Cycle: A Salvaged Opera described an everyday epic exploring the mythic in the mundane, focusing on the metal trade and the themes of value risk and waste at its core. The proposal was inspired by and worked with both the London Metal Exchange’s open trading floor ‘The Ring’ and Wagner’s opera cycle known by the same name. The artist carries on working with and developing these themes and the proposal has morphed into her current project in the wild and industrial landscape of Purfleet.
Ships@night is a multi-platform experience performed in and around the Thames. It is a waterthemed and site-specific live performance which unpacks the story of the nomad and the performer though music, floating on the river Thames and rendering the river digitally as a musical instrument interactively looping its sounds with an immersive 'chorus' of actor/musicians.
Ships@night paints a landscape of arranged and improvised, harmonically-layered music, framed in different visual and ‘experiential’ settings, to tell a multi-faceted story. Incorporating themes of the river and those who travel down it now, in the past and forever through different iterations and languages/instruments, we allow for a comprehensive narrative, drawing on the broadest range of emotional and cultural expressions.
The Sea will be the sea, whatever the drop’s philosophy – Attar of Nishapur
Water and its many forms are the analogy to the different faces we all have within. Time is a river and the migrant is the body that flows through it. If the Thames could, it would sing in the voice of all those who have travelled from the sea and down the river to make London their home, creating the complex and nuanced metropolis with its confluence of genealogies that we experience today.
After initial investigatory recordings of the sounds in and around the Thames for compositional purposes, the main arm of the project would be a live performed multi-sensory 'experience' that would take place on the water. The performance will be launched at dawn by an 'armada' of platforms of various shapes and sizes (which may be ships, boats or large wooden constructed ‘lanterns') with performers on board, floating down the Thames with a single singing figurehead on the platform leading the helm.
The movement of the platforms travelling on the water of the Thames would be monitored by sensors and translated into sound, effectively transforming the 'armada' into hands 'playing' the Thames, unlocking its voice and its history through time.
The Thames is "a river made of time and water ...Time is another river... we stray like a river and our faces vanish like water…into”…music – Jorge Lois Borges.
This will be a true carnival of sound, a cacophony of music looping in, around and through the grandiose figurehead at the front. Translating the rush of water into the eclectic and beautiful sound of the river, the 'armada' will come to rest by twilight at a port to form the stage for a performance on and through water.
For the performance, Shama Rahman would develop a soundscape created by loop pedal layers and electronic FX featuring the Sitar. Within this soundscape will be the delivery of spoken word/dramatic skits by the figurehead who by turns would be both narrator and character in the narrative.
To aid in the storytelling, this figurehead persona would also interact with an actor/musician chorus ensemble planted amongst the audience forming a tragic greek or folk chorus taking inspiration from physical theatre.
Embedded in the soundscape will be a live performance by Shama Rahman’s band, of composed and improvised song/stories on the same themes, reflecting many faces and metamorphoses. The actor/musician chorus ensemble would set the scene by being characters in the song/stories be they sailors, dancers, voyagers, gods, politicians, lovers, slaves or ghosts, evoking the carnivalesque by inviting the audience to participate.
The figurehead persona would also initially be devised in a workshop period investigating the psychogeography of the Thames and those who inhabit it now, in the past and forever. Similarly, the characters of the ‘chorus’ would be developed in workshops with locals and musicians/performers.
The project will result in technological innovations with the development of new piezoelectric sensors allowing the real-time integration of the movement of the Thames with live songs. The movement of the chorus ensemble would also be instrumentalised by wearable technology, (building on the work done by Di Mainstone's Human Harp and the body instruments developed by Joseph Malloch and Ian Hattwick). The audio would inspire visual water projections on the “armada”, the surrounding water and the performers, (building on work by Zach Walker in his Cymaticsproject). Combined, these technological features would serve to create a truly multisensory interactive 'experience' for the audience to share.
Shama Rahman’s hope as the creator of this piece would be to produce a joyous contemporary event that truly reflects the story of the Thames over one day but forever held in the imagination.
…Time is undone not only by being remembered but also by the living of certain moments which defy the passing of time, not so much by becoming unforgettable but because, within the experience of such moments their is an imperviousness to time. They are experiences which provoke the words ‘forever’, ‘toujours’, ‘siempre’, ‘immer’. Moments of achievement, trance, dream, passion, …sacrifice, mourning, music – John Berger
Forgetter is a steep crater in the ground with a circular opening to the surface, 11m in diameter, 15m deep. Half of its face is covered by water flowing uniformly from the top edge, gently, with almost no noise, down the concrete surface of the crater. There is a pool of water forming at the bottom. Pumps circulate the water back up to the top, in a closed loop. The rim will have a trench around its outside to prevent people from looking over the edge and for safety.
Forgetter has 7 chamber-caves – viewing points, designed for watching the water and the resetting of ones energies. To reach them, there are networks of metal stairs which lead to the chambers. The chamber-caves are discreetly lit and equipped with simple concrete seats and benches covered with wood, on which one can rest. Forgetter is a situation where a person, while being underground, is positioned in front of flowing water and exposed to moist air. From the chambers people will also see the circular opening with sky above and the pool of water down below.
Forgetter is designed for Wanstead Flats, a common between the City of London and Manor Park Cemeteries and Crematoria. Its location addresses the project to people who have lost someone. Forgetting in such situations may seem shameful. Forgetter, however, is not about seeking oblivion, but for restoring names and faces to the unexpressed, another kind of memory located in the human body. 'Breaking free from the name' is, according to Giorgio Agamben, the return to ultimate freedom.
The overwhelming presence of water is the desired effect – our dependence on it, our fear of it. I would like people feel that their lives are a part of a bigger whole that is largely beyond our control or understanding. We cannot stop our bodies from dying, as we cannot stop the volcanoes erupting or the planet rotating. But we are part of it. Forgetter is about coming to terms with that.
The construction of Forgetter should be as follows:
Strange Freight is a mobile dance performance that explores contemporary concerns of culture within a multicultural nation and the fear and acceptance of the unknown. This show will contrast the external view of the set; two container trucks; with a stranger and unexplained space that exists inside the containers.
We live in the flicker—may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday. — Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Strange Freight will follow a route between two immigration removal centres:
Two flatbed trucks will transport eight dancers on a journey which will involve various stops in public spaces when the sides of the containers come down and the audience can look and listen into the curious environments inside.
The floors of both containers are constantly moving horizontal treadmills so we are working with a choreography in which it is more effort to stay still than to be swept along.
The audience will be able to listen in via an application on their mobile phone and the sound will be recorded binaurally to place the audience within the image they are watching. So they can see themselves not just as voyeurs but also participants.
We are eager to explore the human capacity for adaptation and our relationship to the familiar and the new; losing a place and finding a place; and endings that are superimposed and involve displacement. We are interested in challenging existing ideas about what it means to be ‘at home’.
We intend to conduct a series of interviews with inmates of these two immigration removal centres and allow their stories and experiences to develop our work.
We will also conduct interviews with long-distance truck drivers in relationship to ideas of home.
Shipping containers on flatbed trucks are the most prosaic objects - they are everywhere; we overtake them on highways, we see them parked up at gas stations. With few exceptions, we only see these containers from the outside and we usually don’t give a moment’s thought to what might be inside.
The guardians of the load — the long distance drivers — are also often unaware of what they are carrying.
They contain the air from different countries: sealed in from the Far East, Europe, Africa...
There is no other more potent symbol of globalisation.
What if there was a whole other world inside? A parallel universe with different rules where the laws that govern our own world do not apply. Within these boxes, we are creating an impossible internal space that defies the preconception of the viewer. This draws on our fascination with an external experience of a space in conflict with the interior. This is a powerful and universal theme (and a particular interest in our work) that plays with our deep desire to have our rationality shaken.
The performance begins with an empty public space.
Two trucks drive in and park up one behind the other (the nearest obscuring the one behind)
The tarpaulin over the front of the nearest container comes down and we can see the interior.
Then the tarpaulin of the back truck comes down and we can see through the nearest container into the second.
The two trucks slowly move away from each other and position themselves back to back creating an eighty-foot long playing space.
Binaural recordings use microphones either placed within the ears of a performer or a dummy head and give a remarkable three dimensional perception of the sound that an audience can locate to a given coordinate. These sounds are also treated to create particular architectural environments that also add to the experience.
Both the headphones and binaural recordings place the audience, aurally, within the action that they are observing. The effect is paradoxically increased as the distance between the audience and the performance expands, which is the opposite effect to what is experienced in most auditoriums as the audience tend to feel less immersed the further back they sit.
In the creation of Electric Hotel we worked in collaboration with neuroscientists David McAlpine and Prof. J. Ashmore of the Ear Institute, London, in order to develop the qualities of the sounds and employ various curiosities of the physiology and psychology of hearing to increase the impact of how the sound related to the visual environment.
Having had a great success with the impact these recording techniques had in Electric Hotel and Motor Show and knowing how to develop the impact of this technology further, Strange Freight can now build on this gathered knowledge.
For this performance the personal and interior space is the inside of two container trucks; confined spaces in which the inhabitants, although so close to the outside world, perceive themselves to be in a private space. The audience will be able to peer into these spaces and listen to the intimate sound from within.