Live Art is a generic term that describes acts of individual or collaborative, innovative and explorative, performance practice. It can be undertaken in relation to one or more art forms. Dialogues is a series of experimental and experiential exchanges between the visual and audible arts. The discourse is through improvisation: a free-style creative act that exists in the moment, in the instincts and intuitions of the individual, and in the participants’ reciprocal response to each other’s activities. (It may, but need not have, an audience.) On this occasion, the conversation is through the mediums of drawing and sounding (that is, the act of perceiving and emitting, aurally). The exchange takes place within the ‘laboratory’ of the School of Art’s Project Room. It provides a controlled environment in which the collaborators can learn, invent, test concepts, devices, and methods, make trial of different models of practice, and record ideas. Two determinations govern the collaboration: action and consideration; (to make in order to understand and to understand what has been made).
The Dialogues workshop/performances are conceived as an open-ended and explorative exchange between visual-art practice and sound-art practice in the presence of one another. In Dialogues3, the visual artist is present through their work; I was present in situ. The event had no audience; the process of musical composition required solitude and an uninterrupted presencing of mind on my part.
I’ve observed Sandra Sagan’s paintings for the past four years at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, where she and I worked in our respective roles as tutee and tutor. ‘Suspension’ represents an installation of her work that she constructed for the second exhibition of her MA Fine Art program. A room was hung with seven paintings: two were placed vertically on the floor, back to back; two more were affixed to walls at right angles one to another; two more were situated at right angles, with one attached to a wall and the other suspended from the ceiling; and a further painting placed on the wall, in isolation. The room was illuminated by only a low luminosity, cool ambient light emanating from behind and above the mounting boards. The visual impression, within the otherwise white interior, was akin to a perpetual onset of dusk.
Sandra made her paintings to music. I wanted to make music to her paintings. Her works are essentially neo-minimalist in orientation: non-hierarchical surfaces comprising brushed layers of neutral, high-key coloured oil paint, into and onto which lines and other residues of autography are inscribed like the trace of a skater’s blades upon the ice.
My approach was to, as far as possible, create an analogical equivalent in sound for the scale and ratio of the support, the abrupt edges of the pictorial boundary, the paintings’ tonality and colouration, and processes of superimposition, gesturalism, and mark making that characterize her work. The recordings were made in situ, over two hours, to facilitate a direct response to not only the paintings but also their context.
released October 9, 2015
Personnel: John Harvey and Sandra Sagan
Instrumentation: Traveler EG-1guitar, Apogee GiO guitar interface, Boss FV-50L volume pedal, Boss FV-50H (modified) tone pedal, MacBook Pro, Apple Logic X, and Adobe Audition CS6
Context: Recorded at: Live Art: Dialogues3, The Project Room, Postgraduate Exhibition 2015, School of Art, Aberystwyth University, 2 October 2015. Composed and mastered in Aberystwyth, Wales, UK, 9 October 2015.
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