And a slightly tanned and healthy looking correspondent this time – freshly returned from a very successful presentation tour entitled Virogenesis that took me to Australia and all over the country to talk and discuss ideas relating to my work from as far as Melbourne, Sydney, over to Canberra and Perth. Have a look if you get a chance at the next edition of the UK magazine The Wire to follow my published tour diary with photos or else focus on the end of this email as there is an adapted version of it here on line to peruse.
The Sub Rosa live series has continued with a recent show in Brussels where I collaborated with David Shea on a rather unusual live improvisation based around Exotica and Easy Listening where we set up rhythms that brought the Belgians to their feet and discover the real meaning of the Cha Cha and so on. If all digital signals correctly aligned expect a small live issue of this on compact disc in the new year. Whilst there I also managed to record a radio session I am very happy with for Radio Campus.
Currently working on some rather major collaborative projects for next year and even 1998 – you can’t even buy a calendar for this year yet either so what am I going to do?
As always, thank you for the support and I apologise for the delay in responding that is occuring more regularly now but I am away from this terminal more than I would expect.
15 Nov> World premiere of Delta – a new creation choreographed by Daniel Larrieu from the National Centre of Choreography in Tours, France. Soundtrack commission by Scanner – an exclusive 40 minute piece performed live.
*21 Nov> Score – I am compering a unique live event at the South Bank Centre in London where contemporary sound artists will provide live soundtracks to classic avant garde films. Everything from Two Lone Swordsmen (Andrew Weatherall of Sabres of Paradise fame and Keith Tenniswood) with the film Bells of Atlantis, Wishmountain (Matthew Herbert) soundtracking a film by Jan Svankmajer, A Quiet Week in the House, as well as Slab, bio.com and Deli (original members of Chapterhouse).
*22/23 Nov> Delta – Tours, France
*29 Nov> Voruuit, Ghent, Belgium – live show with Locust
*30 Nov> Rude Mechanic – Beaconsfield London. A collaboration between visual artists and Finnish act Panasonic (Pan Sonic) as part of a whole season of collaborative work involving Simon Fisher Turner, Squarepusher, Bruce Gilbert and others.
*3 Dec> Electronic Lounge, ICA London
*7/8 Dec> Delta – Kanagawa Arts Festival, Japan
*20 Dec> Barcelona, Spain – live show
*25 Dec> Christmas Day – get to open lots of nice presents and eat lots of food with my family
::: recent releases :::
Quantum102 Sub Rosa Live Sessions: Scanner>Shea>Main Ltd CD 70 mins
Soul Static Sound Records, England
Two exclusive singles for the label that has released records by Tortoise and UI previously. Due out in October. Both A sides are very rhythmically heavy whilst the B sides are more abstract, improvised pieces.
ORF: Kunstradio Radio, Austria
CCD512651 Glory Box – Begin ‘Crying Out for the Last TIme’ CD single 6 mins
Remix of English band with their first single. Dry, live drums, female/male vocals, driving jazzy rhythm.
Most of these items should be available commercially but in case of trouble I can provide you with catalogue details and distribution contacts or alternatively you can order them from the Po Box address where I also have limited copies of other Scanner releases. Simply contact me direct.
A new studio album, Delivery, will be released simultaneously in Europe and USA in March 1997. Earache records in Europe and Rawkus in America.
"Addressing the need for the cultural production and consumption of new media and emerging artforms to occur within a critical context beyond the government and corporate driven techno-evangelistic hype, The Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) formulated the Virogenesis exchange project. "
1 Oct Invited by ANAT to adopt the role of Agent Scanner and follow through an extensive national tour throughout Australia, I set off from London Heathrow at 08.00 hours. One of the most valuable aspects of travelling I’ve discovered is the opportunity to catch up with the archaic analogue pursuit of reading and so the choice of material is essential : I chose the Inscriptions of Max Neuhaus, a collection of essays and interviews with the American artist, whose sound work investigates the hidden potentials of acoustic data which seemed apt for a 26 hour journey on a plane – with only the air conditioning and engine hum as background Musak, Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash and a bundle of magazines. Typically I was seduced by the film show on board and read barely a page! Saw Marianne Faithfull in the lounge wearing sunglasses and encased in black clothes, prepared for the sunshine obviously.
3 Oct Sydney. My schedule began with an interview on Triple J radio, part of the ABC network broadcasting across the country. With minimal distribution for my work here and the scarcity of supportive independent media here, it meant that each interview revolved around mundane biographical information and Music Biz Gossip, of which I was sadly lacking. I was shocked to discover that swearing was permitted openly on the airwaves though, especially when a news bulletin with the Sex Pistols at their crinkly best croaked out "We’re gonna play wit cha fucking minds, kids" which beautifully balanced out a later report that laconically announced : "The Sex Pistols will be appearing in Sydney this evening. The concert has not sold out." !
4 Oct Live show at Lyric in association with Zonar Recordings and EAR. Zonar is a label operating from Sydney, run by Brendan Palmer. An affable, enthusiastic character, Palmer founded the Clan Analogue collective in 1992, and though no longer part of their project, he instigated a resurgence in electronic music in a country seemingly sedated by the corporate pill of Rock and Roll. Now curating EAR, a progressive, exploratory sound club in the heart of Sydney, he was one of many artists I met whose commitment and passion for boundary-less acoustic information was unbeatable.
Jet Lag began to kick in around 21:00, the time the doors opened. A body thoroughly confused by the hour and day dragged itself out of its soporific state and balanced delicately on a table to watch the support acts: the dub focused, groove fanatics Atone, the abstractly post industrial Flux, and the witty, video-hop, minimalist rhythms of Size, a duo comprising of contemporary video artist Jason Gee and his partner Garry Bradbury, a former key member of possibly Australia’s most renowned electronic band Severed Heads. DJs Buddy Love and Zeitgeist threw in filtered acidic abstraction between the acts.
My ‘sonic terrorising, media junkie’ set (as the media liked to present my work) played to a mostly seated audience, the airwaves taught us that Sydney suffers equally from machismo males pumping their chests to impress the girls, at least that is on mobile phones, and my body miraculously managed to remain upright throughout the show with only the aid of some sugary drinks!
5 Oct Delivered the first of my ‘lectures’ at Artspace in Woolloomooloo, alongside Agent Fuller whose text focused on the power relations of convergent technologies, and the emerging artforms of the third millennium. I presented a low key summary of my ideas, focusing on the nature of Sound Polaroids – recordings of particular moments, spaces, actions at a certain time – and Mapping the City with sound images. Placing my work ironically in the field of Cellbient Music and with an audience comprised equally of visual artists, students, musicians and voyeurs, it was important that a session like this should pose as many questions as answers. A machine gun series of questions followed through and I left with my head buzzing and pockets full of business cards and demo tapes.
6 Oct Met up with John Potts – a sound artist. The opportunities to present sound work publicly that refuses to deal with traditional parameters of verse/chorus, melody and so on seemed to be much healthier than in the UK – with shows like the Listening Room and Radio Eye, two key public shows that broadcast nationally entirely experimental pieces of sound work. Potts ‘Times of Day and Night’ for example played around with notions of time and space – using recordings of brain waves and the drama of REM sleep splintering out notions of memory, fantasy, and nightmares. Time would be frozen and thoughts fracture as sounds whirl. I improvised a 10 minute live piece direct to air, a brave moment for both radio and myself, which was followed by recordings from a graveyard of voices of the (un)dead that recalled the experimental recordings of Raudive and the Spiricom. More decomposition than composition.
7 Oct Conducted an interview on the top of the block of flats where one of the Clan Analogue collective lives. A perfect sight line across the rooftops of Sydney, a moment captured out of a Robert Altman novel. Listened to the Jaunt compilation they issued which spins across the genres, textually following trip hoppish and darker digital experiments, reflecting the diverse personnel of the group – DJs, visual artists, coders, writers, and so on.
Met with the editors of Essays in Sound, a journal of sound art and theory. Available as both analogue – a physical publication, and digital – a website adaptation, EIS attempts to engage in the critical investigation of sound in its various modalities. With recent essays entitled Erotic Nostalgia and the Inscription of Desire, Before the Beep: A Short History of Voice Mail and Nothing Here But the Recording: Derrida and Phonography, this is one of the finest collections I have found that explores sound in its historical, technological and philosophical terrains.
9 Oct Canberra. The city I am told where all Australian pornography is produced, the only city where fireworks are legally for sale and ironically, does this come as no surprise, where all the politicians reside. Booked in to give a talk to the Photomedia Lab at the University, I delivered my text to a packed auditorium of would-be Politically Aware Erotic Saboteurs. When I switched all the lights out during the sound part of the presentation voices could be heard murmuring about the size of their Ab’s workouts! Discussed the relationship between disciplines of visual art and sound, digital miniaturisation of technology and the manner in which photography engendered vast changes in our perception of history, time and of ourselves.
Sneaked into a student performance of Faust only to nearly lose my life by standing too close to a bicycle wired to an box of gunpowder – a moment of terror and humour as I dived to the ground to shield my body from a gigantic spinning wheel of flames.
11 Oct Perth. Arrived at the airport to a large group of screaming teenage girls and boys who I walked through, their attention focused on the Tanned Surfer Dude striding out behind me. How disappointing.
Met with Agent Gomma from Italy, a publisher and writer. Dined with the director of Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), and found a beauty in the delivery and intonation of the words Quattro Formaggi in Italian, then Elvees Pressleee and so on.
12 Oct Delivered my talk to an attentive audience pressed into a gallery of the public library. Focused on the value of dialogue, disseminating ideas and information, establishing networks and human hyperlinks, and challenging existing preconceptions of what constitutes ‘art’ in the information age.
Some tough questioning from the floor, "so, if Ambient music is so popular, why have I never heard of it?" and so on. Played a live set at the PICA cafe to a funky young audience. I was passed a demo cassette just before I slid onto the stage and having finished was greeted with an enquiring face, "well, did you like the tape then?"
13 Oct Rottnest Island. An island only accessible by boat, no cars allowed on the land and bicycles obligatory. I leant the mistake of the Ambient Englishman Abroad – covered from head to toe in black, Factor 15 over every inch of exposed flesh, I stupidly took my boots off to temporarily lounge in temperatures of 25 degrees, only to find that, surprise, surprise, my boots would no longer fit me later on, nor could I walk, I had second degree burns all over my feet. Thus the ‘telephone terrorist’ could be seen, ever cool, nursing his feet covered in tomato juice and then in absence of any gauze or bandages, wrapping his feet in toilet paper and sellotaping it together. I had considered marketing this as part of a Scanner performance but wisely decided against it.
14 Oct Melbourne. Found myself being filmed by a student as I used a public telephone and ended up discussing the nature of Public Space and Private Space. Was startled by the sound of the tram lines, the ripple of electricity as it shot along the line, the vibrations so unpredictable, reminding me of the sound in Brothers Quay films and the wonderful CD Primal Image by Alan Lamb of wind through cables.
16 Oct McClelland Art Gallery in the suburbs of Melbourne. Delivered a talk to 35 people who had braved storms and hail to attend this modest little presentation. Was surprised to answer questions on nostalgia, lounge music, "what is a sampler" "what is a dat tape?" and most memorably "where did you get your boots". One must not forget that assumptions cannot be made of your audience, no matter when or where.
18 Oct Melbourne Festival was on so I checked out the current expositions. Bill Henson creates enormous photographic prints of young naked teenagers and car crashes and then physically tears into the images, Barbara Kruger assaults the passive consumer with images stolen from advertising and pastes exploded images directly onto the walls of the gallery space, using collaged speech/crowd soundtrack at high volume.
19 Oct Fringe Finale party at Station Pier, Melbourne. Despite the seasonably hot weather this was an exceptionally cold night, such that it apparently snowed in the hills. Wearing every layer of clothing I had brought with me I was still cold and suffered from that perennial problem – my nose running during a live show. Does one attempt to ignore it and constantly sniff or apply a handkerchief between tracks?
A live blues grass band, a country and western singer and transvestite cabaret built the audience perfectly for a live set from me, but by the time I appeared on stage only the truly dedicated were remaining, or else frozen solid to their plastic chairs.
20 Oct The Lounge. A small club in Melbourne central, it was just finishing up its Rude Literature night when I arrived – a contest to discover the crudest poems performed. I played a live mix set, scanning in voices over the beats, opening with Culturcide’s parody of Michael Jackson which had the audience relatively confused and amused equally. During the close of my set as the beats cut and paste at an ever increasing pace so I turned to see a thumbs up from the band Skunk Anansie in the audience, fresh from their support slot for the Sex Pistols that night. At 03:00 my body retired to bed.
22 Oct 05:30 Return to London. Masses of brown envelopes to wade through, phonecalls and emails. The pleasure of one’s own bed and bath.
Zonar Recordings firstname.lastname@example.org