Richard has provided the soundtrack to an exhibition by photographer Joseph Wright at the Grizedale Centre, Cumbria:
Cubby’s Tarn Exhibition
Grizedale Forest Centre
Nr. Hawkshead, Cumbria
18th October – 31st December 2017
Dissolve Our Maps
Julian Hyde has been tracking the unregarded edgelands of that jewel in England’s crown, the Lake District, for over ten years – picking over the frayed seams and exposing the cracks that Cumbria’s tourist industry would rather you didn’t discover. This short film presents isolated fragments of Hyde’s decade-long walk to nowhere, tracing and retracing an elliptical path along the ‘unseen realm between the main road and the church’, recapitulating in his own words an oblique narrative of hope and despair, clarity and blurred vision(s).
‘No Frontier’ is a short film exploring the psychological effects of travel, climate change, remoteness and isolation. Filmed on the eastern fringes of Iceland during a time when the artist had no permanent address, it is a travelogue of motionless, lingering images that are ambivalent in tone and entirely devoid of human figures. The film’s sense of unease is compounded by a series of captioned, first-person texts, adapted from the Poetic Edda, which essay a kind of psychological disturbance that is both deeply personal and reflective of a more widespread cultural trauma. ‘No Frontier’ was produced for ‘Frontiers in Retreat’ – an international artist residency programme exploring multidisciplinary approaches to ecology in contemporary art.
In Pursuit of the Eleventh Measure
‘In Pursuit of the Eleventh Measure’ is a short film drawing elliptical threads between Scandinavian water folklore, religion and Iceland’s hydro-electricity industry. Filmed in Seyðisfjorður, Iceland, the soundtrack is composed of various recordings from Fjarðarselsvirkjun, the fjord’s power plant. ‘Eleventh Measure’ was produced for ‘Frontiers in Retreat’ – an international artist residency programme exploring multidisciplinary approaches to ecology in contemporary art.
Richard has created an evolving, multi-channel composition for Atlas Arts, responding to the landscape, weather and deep history of the isle of Skye.
Isle of Skye
07 – 23 September 2017
And Right Lines Limit and Close All Bodies
1. Lye not in fear
2. The soul subsisting
3. In an hydropicall body
4. Scaleby, x
5. Nitre of the earth
6. Necks was a proper figure
7. If the nearnesse of our last
8. Scaleby, xi
Notes: Bury. Obliterate. Rediscover. Telluric currents. Chthonic energy.
1. Scaleby, i
2. Scaleby, ii
3. Scaleby, iii
4. Scaleby, iv
5. Scaleby, v
6. Scaleby, vi
7. Scaleby, vii
8. Scaleby, viii
9. Scaleby, ix
Notes: Funerary landscapes of northern Britain. A Cumbrian ‘bog body’, found 1845, ‘wrapped in what appeared to be the skin of a deer’.
Pre-order the CD of And Right Lines here:
Both albums are released in April.
Film stills from a recent research trip to the isle of Skye, Scotland, resulting from a commission from Atlas Arts as part of their A Work for the North Atlantic. The footage is partly informed by fragments from Hebridean ‘waulking’ songs which reference landscape or weather.
See my Atlas Arts blog post for more details.
In January 2014 I buried a violin at a secret Newcastle location in the name of art. Previously, such activities were enacted as private gestures and referred to obliquely in writing, such as the poem Bond, from Landings. An instinctive act – following the impetus of a sacral, rather than cranial, brain – the gesture felt like an attempt to connect with telluric energies and edaphological processes, to open the creative act to external influence; a literal surrender of the materia musica in the hope that they may return transformed. It is worth reiterating that a physical transformation was not the original aim or desire. Like the principle of ‘contagious’ or ‘touching’ magic, the duration of interment was of secondary importance.
When thinking about this process for an AV Festival commission, however, a longer duration was felt to be more relevant to the festival’s theme of ‘extraction’. A period of one month was chosen, and I interred the violin, not without some ambivalence. Returning a month later, the instrument had formed a physical bond with the soil itself, and the disinterment took on the appearance of an archaeological dig. I wrote, without irony, that “in no other circumstance have the funerary aspects of this process been brought alive in such an emphatic way.” I also wrote that ‘extracting’ sounds from the violin would be like “interrogating the dead”. Listen for yourself:
The instrument was exhibited on a table in an anteroom of Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland, with a black tablecloth concealing a speaker system beneath playing the music on a loop. This created the effect of the music rising up through the table and animating the violin’s corpse, which, displayed in anatomised form, reminded me of an archaeological exhibit.
Two years later and there is still so much to work through. The violin-corpse, like so many archaeological artefacts, is now carefully shelved in an archive; not a living “storeroom in the peat”, but a dry, climate-controlled repository, clearly labelled for future reference. But for what purpose?
Twelve months later I released the album Belated Movements for an Unsanctioned Exhumation, August 1st 1984. The first composition, ‘Petition for Reinterment’, expresses an ambivalence about the exhumation, preservation and exhibition of bog bodies such as Lindow, Grauballe and Tollund Man. Do we have a right to discontinue their centuries-old, crushing embrace with the soil?
It only occurs to me later that there is an implicit self-reproach here. What about the violin whose body I bequeathed to the soil, albeit only for 30 days? If I always intended to recover it, is it subject to the same moral governance? Does its otherness, its non-humanness, grant it any special privilege, or conversely, does it grant me the right to exploit it as I see fit? Curiously, some people have expressed their distaste that I would subject a violin to such an ordeal. None of them seem in the least bit disturbed that we should cut down a tree in order to manufacture the violin in the first place. Perhaps a return to the soil – to pedogenesis and to telluric processes – is its most fitting and natural fate?
(Photos: copyright Colin Davison / AV Festival)