Earlier this year Rowan Smith contacted me to say that he and Ingrid Lee would be coming to SA. They had been collaborating on works such as their piano transcription of a smashed guitar and wanted to make something happen experimental sound wise in Cape Town.
The result has so far been two really cool November events comprising chest rattling exercises in feedback, through deep immersion sound bathing. I was fortunate enough to be part of the launch event and happily subjected the audience to a participative Silent Noise performance, a technique I’ve been using in my teaching.
For upcoming events and video and pics see the Paarden Eiland Concerts website.
Over the past year and a half I’ve been working full time as a music and art teacher to mostly primary school students and students with special needs . One of the techniques that I’ve developed is a simple hand sign and body percussion system which has come to be known as Dum Ka Pa (DKP). A system loosely based on the systems used for teaching middle eastern percussion.
The initial intention of the system was to teach rhythm however this system has developed into a broad exploration of the nature of sound, not just auditory (as we hear with our ears), but also tactile (vibration) and kinetic* (the way we move in response to sound).
Over the past year I’ve been doing a great deal of research around sensory perception, especially how we construct our conception of the world via our senses. This process is not entirely objective or straightforward and leads to many interesting questions which end up being very useful grist for my creative mill.
A serious exploration. However my intention has always been to keep it fun for myself and the people I work with. So my method is slowly evolving into a springboard for physical theater with madcap tendencies such as Normal Noise , a performance I work-shopped earlier this year with young deaf performaners, and even experiments with Sign Rap using South African Sign Language (which I am currently learning).
Recently I’ve started using my techniques to create participative experiences with adult audiences – an exploration of sensory perception by turning the body into a kinetic music machine, an energetic and enjoyably absurd activity. Can you hear sound without noise?
During November I had the opportunity of performing as part of the Paarden Eiland Concert series where I performed Silent Noise and the following images give a rough idea of the manner in which the performance unfolds.
*I’ve started experimenting with the term ‘kinetic melody’ – a term borrowed from Oliver Sacks who used it to describe the manner in which people with Tourette syndrome are able to calm tics through engaging with rhythmic activities.
Their mission: to present their full sensory experience of a ‘normally noisy’ world. So that a hearing audience might think again about the sensation of hearing.
And they were a hit which made me very (very) happy. And proud 🙂
I was recently approached to run a workshop and develop a performance for this year’s Edge of Wrong festival (a cross-continental festival of exploratory arts and music).
As result I’ve been running a running a series of exploration sessions with four deaf students from Cape Town’s Dominican school for the deaf (Wittebome). And it will all culminate with a performance called Normal Noise this Saturday evening as part of this weekend’s festival events.
So what have we been doing in the sessions? Basically we’re exploring sensation using everyday objects. With sound as our focus.
But what is sound to someone who does not have fully functioning ears? (more…)
Sound Art is a term I feel uncomfortable with. It appears to fit in neatly with the categories ‘visual art’, ‘performance art’, ‘conceptual art’, ‘installation art’. Logical enough? Except that it reinforces the notion that sound is somehow different from those other categories, that it focuses on hearing to the exclusion of other senses such as sight and touch.
During December I visited Dean Henning and Vaughn Sadie’s ‘Frequency, lumens, place’ at the GIPCA Live Art Festival 2012. The installation was a broad spectrum experience – a room filled with objects emitting light, and an invisible yet very physical noise.
After a protracted break from stage and stardom, Shower Songs, my duo with Masha du Toit will relaunch this weekend at the fabulous Voorkamer festival in Darling, South Africa.
Voorkamer is Afrikaans for ‘front – room’, and the performances literally take place there – in private homes in a variety of locations from the dorp (town) centre to township locations. A really nice community integrated project which brings high class performances (including ours 🙂 into interesting locations. Read more about the festival here.
Masha and I perform a very eclectic set – everything from pop to folk with some real oddness-es thrown in (blues, ancient song, funk anyone?) – all arranged for just mandolin and voice. Read more about us on Masha’s blog.
A few works which stood out for me at the (still ongoing) Sounding Out exhibition …
João Orecchia’s Small Worlds was a quiet contemplative work . A collaboration with pianist Jill Richards, the work consisted of three simple objects in a darkened room, each emitting a recording of a minimal piano work. Barely audible, it forced me to listen and imagine.
The darkened setting reminded me of the slightly musty and intriguing interior of an aging local history museum, and the sound treatment of that process where homeopaths serially dilute a substance until very little of the original agent is left. A filtering where only a memory of the original remains. (more…)
A nice sized group of enthusiastic sound-ista’s turned up – thank you Bag Factory :).
I introduced the group to a range of simple listening tools such as bottles to use as resonators for listening to vibration. Then we set off to explore the surrounding Fordsburg neighbourhood to search for hidden and unexpected sounds.