Frequency: A Image and Sound Performance.
The collaboration that I intended to do was with the Xposed club, creating moving image to go with experimental music. Initially, I meet with Stuart Wilding, who turned out to be the main point of contact throughout this project. The start of the project went well, with me and Stuart discussing ideas on what the collaboration could be, such as me creating moving image from sound; Stuart or other musicians making sound from image; both of us working together to make a performance; ideas on sound art. Additionally, we discussed whether the collaboration could move away from my initially ideas. All of these ideas sounded hopeful and gave me confidence that the collaboration was going to work well. Then the collaboration started with Stuart giving me sample pieces and ideas on the types of visuals I could create.
At the start, I struggled with creating, as I was not sure what to film or make, and all my attempts did not seem to fit as well as I thought they would. Nevertheless, Stuart was giving me feedback on my first attempts, indicating what he liked. We agreed that my pieces needed more work and discussed the impact of the visuals on the sound. After a couple of weeks of me creating and getting feedback from Stuart, the collaboration felt like it was not progressing. Therefore, I asked Stuart to create sound to go with one of my videos, which he agreed with. However, he suggested that maybe I should create my own sound and the collaboration would then be the discussions we were having. I disagreed with Stuart with this idea, but I realised that everyone thinks of collaboration in very different ways. This made me question what I really wanted to get out of this collaboration. Originally, I wanted to improve my moving image skills and be fully focused on the visuals without being distracted by the sound.
Feeling quite dishearten by the collaboration, I was unsure what direction to take; I debated whether to leave this collaboration and find a new one or to push through and try to make it work. Whilst I was thinking what to do, Stuart recommended I read Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art by Brandon LaBelle. Initially, I was reluctant to read; nevertheless, due to the circumstances, I read it and discovered the work of John Cage, which significantly changed the collaboration and improved my visuals.
Through studying John Cage’s work, I became intrigued by his ideas on silence and was in awe of his piece 4.33(1993). This triggered my thinking of methods that could be used to explore his ideas on silence. It also changed my views on the relationship between sound and image. Therefore, I followed Stuart’s advice and made my own sound, exploring silence. However, none of my original images fitted. Thus, I explored the possibility of creating images with the idea of visual silence. At first, I tried videoing without a lens on to take away the image. Whist editing the sound, I came across the frequency diagram and thought I should incorporate it within my work as a visual.
Therefore, instead of visualising silence, I would visualise the sound itself, which relates back to the earlier discussions Stuart and I had about the relationship between image and sound. Thus, I turned the frequency diagram into the visual, by screen grabbing and blowing it up to its pixels and putting it back together as an animation, successfully turning the sound into a visual. In the next meeting with Stuart, I showed him the visualised sound, which he liked and appreciated the way I took aspects of our earlier conventions and his reading suggestions into account. Nevertheless, this still was not a collaboration, so we talked about doing a performance whereby I would have my videos playing with musicians improvising too.
Finally, the collaboration was starting to feel more productive, and if it was not for the difficult part, whereby I did not know what to do, my work probably would have stayed the same and I would not have improved. Nevertheless, there was still lots to do as I still had to create more piece, and Stuart had to find musicians; next together, we had to find a space to perform. Therefore, to increase my impacted on the collaboration, I created some work with the sound Stuart originally gave me.
As we were both busy, we did not have a chance to meet up until the 5th May, which was getting very close to my assignment deadline. Additionally, both of us did not know what the other had done in the month since our last meeting. I had completed three piece, and Stuart had been ill. Nevertheless, he still had some suggestions on where to perform. Since the performance date was close to the degree show, Hardwick was not an option, and having no budget, the venue still had to be within the University. Stuart suggested the library and as I had just done a previous exhibition there, I knew Denise, who is in charge of the art at the library. Therefore, I arranged a meeting with Denise to discuss the performance: where it would go; when could it happen; who would attend. She was happy for us to perform there in the evening on the 22nd May.
This was great and the collaboration was really fitting together with something to aim for. Although the arrangement was a bit last minute, I felt that it still gave us an opportunity and for me this meant my work would be displayed. Within the two weeks of the performance, I had to find a projector, screen and edit some of my pieces to a high standard. Stuart had to get in touch with the musicians and inform them about the time and date.
I decided to call the performance Frequency as it tied the image and sound together and fitted with the project as a whole. The musicians agreed with the name.
Throughout the two weeks before the performance, I had very little contact with Stuart. it was only two days before the performance that I found out who was going to perform with the possibility of more musicians joining:
Stuart Wilding : percussion
Jon Adriessen : guitar
Spencer Allman: piano
Owain Jevens: not sure what he will be playing
Mark Unsworth: keyboard
Olly Smith: guitar/ banjo
The confirmation of the musicians and the testing of the projector before the day of the performance reinsured and gave me confidence about the performance. Additionally, testing the projector a few days before with the help of my course mate Becky, was a good idea as it took a while to set up and we discovered it would have been easier if three people were involved in the process. Also, it was interesting to see how the projector would work in the space, especially with how light it is. It did work, although the quality was not amazing. Nevertheless it was still good. The only problem was that we forgot to bring was an extension cable which would allow the projector to fit securely.
The performance went well, actually a lot better than I thought it would, with a few things that could have been improved. This was informative and I will use the experience in future events. Not as many people turned up as I had hoped. Therefore, I should have promoted the event or asked Stuart and the musicians to do so. I could have used maybe a Facebook event or university email. Nevertheless, having a smaller audience was quite nice, as I have never done an event like this before, and this made it a little less stressful and a lot more intimate. The space turned out to be perfect for the performance with the acoustics sounding great. For the performance, I asked Georgia and Therese, who are both doing video on my course, if they could document the event for me. This offered them the chance to have more practice at videoing events and for me and the musicians it was beneficial to have a recording of the event for our portfolios. However, I forgot to tell them the first piece was performed in silence; therefore they both only filmed bits of that. This was regrettable. Nevertheless, I know for next time to provide this information beforehand. This will ensure I will have the whole performance. Nevertheless, the idea to film was simply to have proof the performance actually happened and this was achieved. Additionally, Georgia, Therese and I have agree to meet up and edit the footage properly to add to our portfolios and also to give a copy to the musicians for theirs. This will give me a chance to improve my editing skills. Unfortunately, we do not have time to do this before the deadline; nevertheless, we are going to meet up the first week in June. Another aspect I would have changed was to get better tape for the window blackout as it fell down. However, this did not affect the projector too much. Additionally, it might have been nicer to wait until it got darker outside, although at this time of year that would not be till quite late.
I received good feedback on the event from the audience. They found the work interesting, unusual, different and fascinating. I think I should have left a comment book, so I could have a record of the comments to be able to reflect on them. Nevertheless, there are a few at the end of the recording I can look over again. I am glad I used the side room to show what the pieces sounded like originally. Also, it showed a clear projection of the work for the audience to see. Similarly, I received good feedback from the musicians. Again, they found the work interesting and wanted to know more about it. We are in discussion about possibly doing another performance together, looking at different places it could be performed, possibly outside projected on buildings. The musicians as a collective did add that they would have liked another 10 minutes piece as it did not feel quite finished. This is good to know as if I work with them again, I can create another long piece. Overall, I am happy with how the performance went. It was a really good experiences to watch how the musicians reacted to my work. Additionally, now I have sound to go with my work, and the musicians have visuals to go with theirs, bringing the collaboration completely together.
I feel that thought out this project my work has changed significantly from the work I was creating before I met Stuart, to the videos at the start, to the final pieces inspired by John Cage. I feel like this change has been a good progression throughout and I am now confident in making moving image which was the whole reason I wanted to work with musicians. Additionally, it has been interesting and challenging making work for and with someone other than myself.
Although at points I wanted to give up on this collaboration, I am now glad I carried on and worked through the difficult stages. As I feel this is what changed my work and thinking about image and sound for the better. Additionally, I am very happy that the performance actually happened and that ended up being the key element within this collaboration. Even though multiple times I thought that it was not going to happen it did. There were a few things that needed working on but are good to know for next time I do a performance or work with a musician.
Firstly, know Stuart was busy and the collaboration was not his main commit at the time; I should have been a bit more proactive and found a space earlier so I could promote the performance more in advice. Secondly should have briefed Georgia and Therese probably about the performance and told them exactly what I wanted filmed, even though the documentation was not my had in, it still would have been useful to have seen the performance all the way through. Additionally, I should have recorded the performance on a separate mic so the sound would have been better, and was something I never thought about doing at the time. With the documentation of the performance I had a lot of difficultly exporting the video and had to lower the quality unfortunately it does not look as good as I like. Nevertheless, for the assignment I am simple using it as proof of the performance. Hopeful when I work with Georgia and Therese we can sort this problem out and have good quality videos for our portfolios.
Nevertheless, I feel that in the end my project did become a successful collaboration with me having sound to go with my imager and my moving image skills have progress significantly throughout this project completing what I aimed to do. Thus, my work gave the musicians something to preform to and an audience to view their work. Additionally, I would like to carry on working with the musicians and we are in the process of talking about another performance together and next time I do make work for them I will take in what they said about having another 10-minuet piece to fully complete the performance. Furthermore, look at different place to perform such as outside.
Also, I am looking forward to working more with Georgia and Therese to edit the video of the performance to a high quality to use in our portfolios additionally giving me another collaboration to work on after this assignment, which will hopefully be less stressful than the middle of this collaboration was.
Overall, I am happy with how this collaboration has turn out, form reflecting on my work throughout this term it has improved, nevertheless I feel like throughout this project I also have matured a lot which has impacted my think about art and photography making me work a lot more conceptual and professional, which was the main reason I wanted to do a MA. I am glad this project has push me to improve significantly.