EXHIBITION – fire station building context / field, silence / audiograft artist interview

The opening of an exhibition in the Old Fire Station Oxford featuring New Works by Manfred Werder and Ben Owen with a curatorial intervention by Patrick Farmer, functioned as the private view / opening of the Audiograft festival.

“The three paper based works deal with the intrinsic reality of a situation and question the assumptions we make concerning our reception of space.. Each of these artists is also a musician and a composer, and find a point at which their refinement and understanding of silence and vacuity reaches a balance between material and immateriality.”

We arrived from a car-park beneath the old fire station into a gift shop foyer space where a busy discussion was taking place, separated from the street by a pair of automatic sliding doors. In the market space outside people’s conversations could be deciphered as they walked past, whereas inside, music blared loudly from speakers overhead. The sound of the opening overflowed into the exhibition space below continuously filling it like a bubbly din in an artists’ bathtub.

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1009 gift shop entrance context clip

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1041 public voice

I used an electromagnetic pickup to record someone’s camera taking a picture of the work, and to listen to the work itself by scanning the electric cable and plug that that powered one of the pieces – a speaker linked to a contact mic stuck to the back of a textured surface hung on the wall. In a similar way I then recorded the repeated operation of the sliding entrance doors as people came in and out of the building…

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1014 camera

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1012 installation electric lead a

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1013 installation electric lead plug silence

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1018 electric doors

In the gift shop I spoke to Shirley Pegna about the nature of the exhibition space and about her work at the festival using transducers to play sound through people’s bodies. The artist Patrick Farmer came down to be interviewed, the presence of his voice seeming to wax and wane in the reflective sea of [gentle] cacophonous discussion descending from above where he had been. Recording with two mono shotgun mics enabled me to concentrate on and emphasise this mixing of voices as I tried to focus on and understand what was being said particularly in relation to silence.

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1019 INTV shirley – 2 entrances

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1019 INTV shirley – 2 spaces

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1020 INTV shirley – sound materials

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1021 INTV shirley – conductivity density

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1027 INTV artist – silence

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1027 INTV artist – sound in space

It would be interesting to integrate the recording of the doors and other electric fields with the interview of the artist[s] and think about how the Audiograft festival is at once a singular cultural event in itself which is to some extent consumed at specified times and places, while simultaneously being a complex body of individual artists / voices who’s activity extends independently and infinitely beyond this on many levels – time, space, method, intention / meaning etc.

This post is by Toby O’Connor, who participated in the Documenting Sound workshop held at Audiograft 2012 by Felicity Ford and Valeria Merlini

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