July 2012


As I sit here listening to the soothingly relaxing ripple of the canal beneath my houseboat in Amsterdam it’s hard to think that these last weeks have been literally awash with the most horrendous storms and weather conditions across Northern Europe.

Flowing everywhere at once

June kept me as remarkably busy as always, fortunately so, or else I’d keep checking the weather conditions! I’ve been over in The Netherlands frequently developing and working on this Canta Ballet, which premiered this very week on 28 June. It’s been the most inspiring and astonishing adventure from start to finish.

Combining the dexterity of ballet dancers from the Dutch National Ballet, and less able bodied drivers of the popular Canta cars in The Netherlands in a forceful and spectacular production, the Canta Ballet has spiralled out into a four-week television series by NTR & Viewpoint Productions on Ned.2, a radio documentary, a book by Karin Spaink and the grand finale in these two performances at De Gashouder in Amsterdam.

With both shows completely sold out it was unquestionaly a transcendent experience. With thousands of people cheering from the first moment and continuing to cheer and clap throughout, the experience was truly mesmeric. I was frequently moved to tears by the sheer commitmment brought to the show by the Canta drivers themselves. Freed from their walking frames, their wheelchairs, it was a moment to celebrate. Even the makeup of the audience was outstanding, with one person even attending the show in their bed, having been house bound but determined to see the show!

A feature film length documentary about the project will be premiered at Cannes in 2013 and a CD of the complete score will be released in a very special edition shortly too. From 1st July the live show can be viewed online at Ned.2. Excerpts of the score can be heard here.

The travel bug struck again in June and though not such a vicious bite it did devour an enormous amount of energy, with trips to Paris to see the comprehensive retrospectives of Tim Burton and Joel-Peter Witkin, to Rome to perform at the closing of the show Spazi Aperti 10 at the Romanian Academy, Glasgow to spread the word of Scanner to the masses in a Master Class and to Durham for the premiere of Witness.

Witness was launched on 23 June at the grand Apollo Pavilion in Peterlee. Narrowly avoiding a thunderstorm and lightning Spennymoor Town Band bravely performed outdoors, witnessed by the Seaham Academy String Quartet.  Over the next month the work will then be witnessed and performed by Teesdale Hub Rock Band, East Durham College Production Group, Duncan Brown, Concordia then finally at the Streets of Brass by Beat n Blow in their rendition of Witness. Every rendition will change and develop; dependent upon how each musician remembers it.

On Friday 20 July a film by Alan Fentiman documenting the entire process will be premiered, alongside a talk. Exploring the ideas in more extended way two essays have been commissioned by British writer and musician David Toop and Dutch writer Zarina Kadirbaksexploring the themes of the project, connecting the dots between Maroon 5 via Mark Twain, Kylie Minogue, Thai Music, folk music, YMO, Kurosawa, awkward teenage memories, Robin Hood, flamenco, Sevilla and Rapper Sword Dances. How about that for diversity?

A torturously painful presentation interview with me speaking about the project can also be viewed here, but if you still wish to sleep at night then think otherwise.

A deep drum of silence

I also recently performed as part of Night of the Unexpected in London, the UK debut of a project well established in The Netherlands and curated by Roland Spekle. As part of The Spitalfields Music Festival I took the stage in between the hovering abstraction tensions of Philip Jeck and chaotic joy of choral pieces by John Cage. With everyone restricted to performing ten to twenty minutes live sets it really was an eclectic circus of creative talent!

Soundworks launched in June at the ICA in London. Curated in tandem with the Bruce Nauman show in the lower gallery, over one hundred new sound works have been produced by artists all over the world, including such fine resourceful friends as Cosey Fanni Tutti, David Toop, Factory Floor, Hecker, Francisco López, Steve Roden, Stewart Home and many more. I composed a new twenty-minute work, ‘Murmurs, Mutters‘ (2012), which focuses on the human voice. It presents a hovering tension of an operatic voice, accompanied by countless voices, whispers, in French, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Portuguese. Recordings of ghostly voices, found spirits and found utterances complete this sonic picture.


With just a few days back in Studio Scanner then it’s off to Bern to perform live at Dampfzentrale in Bern for Die Lange Nacht der elektronischen Musik with some great fellow musicians  Maja Ratkje, Asmuc Tietchens and Christoph Heeman. Then an intense week of attending live rock ‘n roll shows of Faith No More, Soundgarden, Mars Volta, Iggy Pop, Nosaj Thing and just as my ears begin to relax for a night, it’s the world premiere of The Big Dance in Trafalgar Square on 14 July.

Choreographed by my frequent collaborator Wayne McGregor CBE, over 1000 performers from 40 London groups will dance to new music composed by Joel Cadbury and myself in a grand Olympic event. Commissioned films will be shown of Big Dance Beijing and Big Dance Rio as part of the UK’s Big Street Dance Day and I’m certain that youtube will be filled with Smart phone footage of the adventures within just a few hours.

There's no telling where time went

The very day next I’m off to Glasgow to launch a special installation at the Riverside Museum, Scotland’s Museum of transport and travel. As the Kronos Quartet perform their version of Terry Riley’s highly acclaimed Sun Rings outdoors, my piece, On Land, At Sea and In the Air (2012) will be heard inside the museum, exploring a history of travel. Footsteps, skateboards, ferries, trams, buses, bicycles, aircraft and archive recordings of interviews with workers from the locality will be collaged together into this sonic picture of travel.

The recent Sprint telephone campaign I worked on over in the USA is proving to be a surprisingly popular project, with now over one million texts and 200 million viewers in the last month or so. Not bad going really. You can catch the films in 70% of cinemas across the USA for the next year or just be idle, sit back on your sofa and watch one of them here, and the making of over here. Enjoy your popcorn.5

And somehow in the midst of all this I might manage to find time to acknowledge a popular human interaction frequently recognised as ‘holidays’ but I’m still trying to come to terms with this unusual concept.

Enjoy the sunshine and until next month

Until next month.

Robin Van Rimbaud
Professor Scanner
Robin in Berlin

::: listen :::
Lorn: Ask the Dust (Ninja Tune)
Can: The Lost Tapes (Mute_
Pierre Schaeffer-Le Triedre Fertile (Editions Mego)
Guy Reibel-Granulations (Editions Mego)

::: read :::
McKenzie Wark: The Beach Beneath the Street (Verso)
KesselsKrammer: Advertising for People Who Don’t Like Advertising (Laurence King)
Complete Poems of Philip Larkin (Faber)
Cabinet Magazine Issue 42: Forgetting

::: film:::
The Raid, Gareth Evans, Indonesia
Dark Shadows, Tim Burton, USA
General Orders No. 9m Robert Persons, USA
Snow White and the Huntsman, Rupert Sanders, USA


Institute of Contemporary Arts
Lonon UK

19 June 2012 – 16 September 2012

As part of a season on sound, this exhibition presents one hundred new sound commissions produced by artists from all over the world. Selected by curators and art institutions worldwide, all artists have been invited to submit a sound file, taking its stimulus from the themes evoked in Bruce Nauman’s Days, which will be presented in the lower gallery during the exhibition.

Scanner will be presenting an exclusive major new work, Murmurs, Mutters, which will be heard in the show.


Time & Again
Collaboration with artist Michael Anastassiades
MAK-Expositur MAK-Branch
Vienna Austria

12 May – 25 November 2012

The timeless objects of the London-based designer oscillate between design product, sculpture, and quality craftsmanship. Under the MAK exhibition pro- gram, Anastassiades makes an artistic contribution to the museum’s new positioning of applied arts. Scanner has produced a series of discrete sound interventions in the building to compliment the installation.


Night Haunts
By Sukhdev Sandhu
Design Mind Unit
Sound Design Scanner

Artangel Interaction invited writer and historian Sukhdev Sandhu to write a nocturnal journal unfolding over the course of 2006. His postings will appear sequentially at this microsite specially designed by Mind Unit. Sandhu’s forays see him prospecting in the London night with the people who drive its pulse, from the avian police to security guards, zookeepers and exorcists. Acclaimed artist and musician Scanner has collaborated with Sukhdev and Ian Budden of Mind Unit to compose the sound for the site. If you would like to be kept informed as each episode is posted, join artangel’s mailing list by clicking here .


Bittersweet Songs for the Sleepless City
Artangel Interaction

NightJam is the latest project in Artangel Interaction’s Nights of London series of artist-led collaborations with people who have a special view on a hidden side of the nocturnal city. Scanner invited young people at New Horizon Youth Centre in King’s Cross to collaborate on a creative project that expresses how the city at night looks and sounds to their ears and eyes. Through music and voice workshops they explored the sense of freedom and fear, celebration and solitude of the concealing darkness. Meanwhile, they captured their nights on disposable cameras, taking images that are at times eerie, startling, contemplative and funny. NightJam presents two elusive visual and musical journeys through the city’s ‘quiet’ hours.

NightJam presents two music tracks, a film, photographs, that can be experienced and freely downloaded. Additionally it features remixes of NightJam by Stephen Vitiello, Hakan Lidbo, Troy Banarzi, Si-cut.db and Pete Lockett.