An exhibition of practice as research was presented at the Festival of Research in June 2019, including fixed exhibits, live demos and performances (see programme below)
Insook Choi (with Gyung Kyun Shin), Journey from Earth to Fire
Ceramic art became a global phenomenon with its developmental journey through silk road and maritime exchanging materials and techniques. The process of ceramic making unfolds many phases in circadian rhythms and seasons, the journey through slow materiality of soil, water, wood, iron, and fire. Ceramic process itself is a metaphor for the life of a ceramic artist. Master Shin anchors his practice on 1000 years’ knowledge and family tradition. Can an individual artist’s practice, such as Shin’s be sketched in somewhat universal language to communicate the very essence of the process of making? How can the unique epic process be communicated to a general audience with an emphasis on human’s creative and dedicated performativity? This infographic is a result of extensive knowledge elicitation and ethnographic research conducted on the practice of the UNESCO artist Gyung Kyun Shin.
Tim Isherwood, Invisible Texts
Invisible Texts, an ongoing study by Tim Isherwood, presents examples of his practice as research detailing his creation and use of typographic form, whilst, in collaboration with creative writer Judy Kendall, he considers the wider role that typographic form plays within written language through the site specific exploration and performance of poetic content. Using global positioning systems as a drawing tool, Isherwood blindly generates letterforms by physically tracing them within a landscape, in this case a football pitch, using its parameters as a reference. Once recorded through GPS, these geographically invisible forms take shape, from where Isherwood is able to compose these letterforms into words that in turn construct typographic iterations of specifically generated prose. Additionally to the creation of individual characters within a typeface, Isherwood attempts to explore this process further by looking to generate and perform, over a wider area, full words within a given context, that being specifically generated poetry, to bring further meaning to the intrinsic relationship between language and its visual form.
Scott Thurston and Sarie Mairs Slee, Vital Signs: Encounters
In July 2018 we were invited to Paris for two days by Boris Wiseman, director of the Fondation Deutsch de la Meurthe of the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP), whom we met in Manchester during our involvement in Aesthetic Enquiry Across Disciplines (a research network at the University of Manchester). Boris introduced us to musician Pierre Levy with whom we were to perform a set as part of a festival of Improvisation at the CIUP on October 10th. On the second day we were also joined by photographer Alizée Gau, who swiftly (and literally!) dived into the space between us to document our emerging working practices. These images are the result of her sensitive and attentive exploration.
Leslie McMurtry, Look Under Your Feet, The Past Is There
In 2017, I was in the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, USA, as artist in residence researching an audio drama that I scripted and produced. I learned new techniques, such as on location recording and mixing using Adobe Audition, as well as engaging with both traditional library archives and the location itself. The audio drama engages with space and sense of place as well as the imperative to use radiogenic qualities to reach as wide a listening audience as possible, including listeners who may have never heard audio drama before. Whether you are familiar with audio drama or have never listened to it before, I invite you to listen to the many layers of time contained within the Badlands.
Adam Hart and Alan Williams, Introducing Paynter for Collaborative Classroom Composition
Paynter (named after composer and educationalist John Paynter) is a new application for music composition, aimed at children. The app uses simple graphical representations and interactions typical of child-friendly ‘painting’ apps to bridge between knowledge, skill and language gaps between musicians and novice learners. Between March and May 2019, Paynter was used for a music project at the Cathedral School of St Peter & St John involving the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. The app has been developed using recordings from the musicians to create a musical vocabulary, which was used by the pupils for a collaborative composition task. This culminated in a joint concert between the pupils and musicians from the orchestra. This exhibition will present the app for use by an audience, as well as showing the outcomes of the classroom sessions. Attendees will be invited to make their own compositions using the app.
Brendan Williams, Practice Based Research in Music Production
Brendan Williams is a researcher in the field of music production and engineering. Since completing a PhD by published works -a detailed study of the the realisation of six commercially available albums –he has continued to work professionally and investigate how best to situate this continuing iterative practice in a research context. As REF approaches, he is using Figshare to enable people to access his research materials. Artefacts are presented in ‘collections’ representing methodology shared across multiple outputs, housing recordings, video, abstracts and conference presentations in a single publicly accessible space. Brendan will be on hand to discuss his practice, his use of figshare and the networks/conferences he is involved in. https://figshare.com/authors/Brendan_Williams/4577683
The Scattered Collective
Ethnomusicology, frequently regarded as the study of music in culture as well as the study of music as culture, has changed dramatically since it was first formed in the early 20th century. Rather than just being based in the practices of ‘recording’, ‘documenting’, ‘archiving’ and ‘cultural analysis’ it now also includes performance. This is true also of the research program Collected Scatterings. Not only are we using the more traditional methodologies of research and archiving, but also, it is deeply based in Performance. To that end, one of the recently formed campus ensembles – our own ‘World Music Ensemble’ – called ‘The Scattered Collective’ is based in and on the principals of Collected Scatterings. As a collective, the ensemble is drawn from students (UG and PG) and staff, focussing on the musics and study areas of our staff, students and diasporic communities found across the campus and the city. Consequently, for the Festival of Research we will perform music from a few different countries (India, Bolivia, England, Brazil and Portugal) as a celebration of our diversity and our collective identities
Scott Thurston and Sarie Mairs Slee, Vital Signs: Wrestling Truth
That very peace can be despair,
taking the full force of the blow
into a distant dream.
— from ‘Encounters’ by S.M. Slee and S. Thurston
What does it mean to wrestle with the truth? How do we stand our ground in the era of post-fact, and fake news? What will it take to avoid being silenced, yet not silencing the other? The latest instalment in the artists’ long-standing enquiry into the interstices between movement and words, dance and poetry, Slee and Thurston draw on a wide-range of sources including philosophy, literature and scripture to inform this embodied exploration of the struggle to accept one’s own truth, and that of others.
Dramaturg: Kate Adams.
Ali Matthews, The Cabaret is a Prison / The Cabaret is a Paradise: a performance lecture on song, cinema and the weird
‘In every song there is a distance. The song is not distant, but distance is one of its ingredients’ (John Berger, Confabulations, p. 98). What do we look for when we look to be sung to? In this performance lecture, I put my own recent explorations of song, space, intimacy and distance into dialogue with the work of art critic John Berger, post-punk cultural theorist Mark Fisher, physicist Carlo Rovelli, writer Rebecca Solnit and Irish folk historian Angela Bourke. This dialogue is also cut through with meditations on the cinema of Josef van Sternberg and David Lynch. Utilising eerie anecdotes and looped vocals, I move between modes of speech and modes of song to delve into the transformative possibilities of the written song as live incantation. This performance lecture was composed during and in response to my recent artist residency at Somos Arts in Berlin as part of my research sabbatical.
Leslie McMurtry, Look Under Your Feet, the Past is There – pop up live foley
As part of the Artist in the Parks programme at the Badlands National Park, I had to talk about process and involve students in local schools. I wrote a script for older children to perform, including live foley work, based on the Lakota legends about South Dakota. This is a chance to recreate this live radio experience.
Jo Scott: Masks of Anarchy – A Protest Mix
In reflecting on Shelley’s poem, ‘The Mask of Anarchy’, inspired by the Peterloo massacre of 1819, the poet Aviva Dautch remarks on the certainty of his perspective and comments, ‘I tend to…highlight doubts and uncertainties rather than proclaim truths; to self-reflexively be aware of my own biases and limitations’. Masks of Anarchy takes up that challenge through exploring what reflexive awareness arises, through creative engagement with materials arising from recent protests, in the form of texts, sounds, songs and images. Through both mixing and responding to the mixes of materials created, questions are activated about how and why we protest, highlighting limitations and uncertainties, as well as the power and possibility inherent in public acts of protest.