Magickal Women Conference

I’m a Magickal Woman! Which is to say that I will be speaking at the Magickal Women Conference in London next June. They’ve only announced the first set of speakers but I’m already excited at the breadth of fantastic women who will be speaking about fantastic women. I will be talking about sound in Leonora Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet, an opportunity to focus on some of my favourite obsessions: Carrington, art, surrealism and sound. Very exciting!

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Eve Fowler @DCADundee

I dropped by the DCA to check out the latest exhibit by Eve Fowler, ‘What a Slight. What a Sound. What a Universal Shudder’ — pieces all influenced by Gertrude Stein’s writings. I was unprepared for how hard it hit, even in the first piece, ‘with it which is as it if it is to be’ — disorienting because you step through black out curtains into a darkened room. I have poor night vision so I had to stand there for a moment. I was instantly mesmerised:

This 16mm work is an intimate portrait of some of Fowler’s closest friends in the LA artistic community: the camera focuses on several female artists working in their studios with an accompanying soundtrack of their voices reading from Stein’s 1910 text Many Many Women. Yin Ho, writing in Artforum, described this film as “a quietly explosive work: a subtle, simple document of female camaraderie and process, and the subdued magic of everyday life.”

We so seldom value woman–full stop, yes–but especially as artists. Think of all the loving docos of male artists in all their seriousness. The attention to technique, the fawning po-faced attachment to their importance. To see these women creating like this while Stein’s words echoed filled me with such a joy. I needed this. I need to see these women working. I need it to keep working myself.

‘This one is one and she is that one. Each one is one. There are many. Each one is different from any other one.’

I finally understand Stein and her orality. I think delving much more into sound studies has helped my brain make that connection. When I was first exposed to her back in my younger, literalist days, I could only approach her in literary terms. A big misunderstanding.

I need to go back and see it again. Great exhibition.

Sound Photography

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Cities and Memory have a new project up which includes my photography! Check it out to find a fascinating random connection between art and sound, evoking a sense of place from images anchored to a specific location inspiring sounds that know no bounds.

I love it when a plan comes together. Wander through the memories and sounds…or scroll down to Scotland to find my Orkney picture.

ISATMA 2017

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When I saw Pauline Oliveros about a year ago I didn’t know it would be the last time. Her concert with the International Contemporary Ensemble at Bard’s Fisher Center was –as she always was — riveting and compelling. Hearing about her new work with assistive technology for music (she had just come back from Norway) was fascinating and very moving. As I had begun finding ways to move my fascination with sound into my scholarly work, it expanded further my thoughts in that direction.

So I’m pleased to say that I will be part of the upcoming ISATMA conference at RPI’s EMPAC, talking about medieval magic and music in charms. More on the free conference which includes a tribute concert for Oliveros:

5th Annual International Symposium on Adaptive Technology in Music and Art (ISATMA), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

“EXPANDING THE IMPROVISING COMMUNITY ACROSS ABILITIES, BODIES, CULTURES”

October 20-22, 2017

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation supports the The International Symposium on Assistive Technology for Music and Art (ISATMA), a conference devoted to new technologies and artistic concepts for artists across abilities to create new multi-media works. This symposium, hosted by the Center for Cognition, Communication, and Culture, showcases adaptive musical interfaces in an immersive telepresence environment which celebrates international collaborations and limit-defying improvisations. Expanding the improvising community aims to stretch social, perceptual, and cultural differences potentially generative of creative transformation: of music, of community, of consciousness.

Download the press release (PDF).

Pauline will be there in spirit at least as her legacy expands.

Pauline Oliveros Listening all the time

World Listening Day 2018

Pauline Oliveros Listening all the timeYou hear all the time: how much do you listen? What do you listen to? What do you hear when you don’t think you’re listening?

Celebrate the memory of Pauline Oliveros with World Listening Day.

Take a walk. Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears.

Share what you’re listening to.

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Southbound

kingston kenI am bound for London — well, actually Kingston-on-Thames first for the conference. Never been to this campus before but it looks lovely. I’ll be near Hampton Court so I might finally go there. The Royal Horticulture Society had a big show there: the gardens are bound to be lovely.

Of course the conference ought to be a blast. I really get to enjoy it because I am the first speaker after the welcome! Heh, that makes a difference from going in the last panel of the last day. Far more relaxing. All the papers look interesting — after all, it’s Ken Russell!

I’ll be flying down which is a change. Rail tickets have gone up so much it was actually cheaper (not to mention quicker). Going by way of Surbiton which always puts me in mind of Monty Python.

I will have adventures to share, of course: at least a couple of concerts in London afterward, too. I will doubtless share my opinions here. In the meantime I’m just glad to have my paper finished well before time!

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Representing the skulk always!

Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound

Isobel McArthur as Daphne Oram

Photo via Dundee Rep

We had a chance to catch the Blood of the Young and Tron Theatre presentation of Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound at Dundee Rep. This show is touring Scotland, so if you can do be sure to see it. If you don’t know anything about Oram, there’s a good primer at her official website. You may recall that her book on sound theory An Individual Note was kickstarted last year, a project spearheaded by the fabulous Sarah Angliss.

Co-written by star Isobel McArthur (pictured above) and director Paul Brotherston, the play gives an overview of key moments in Oram’s life from her childhood interests in music in archeology, to the 1942 séance where the 17 year old was encouraged to pursue music instead of a more traditional ‘girl’s path’ to safety and suffocation. Sheer determination and unflagging confidence in the power of sound eventually brings her to co-founding and becoming director of the famed BBC Radiophonic Workshop. McArthur embodies Oram with an enthusiasm and a dogged primness that allows the passionate creative force to burst out to great effect when it’s been denied too long.

The ensemble cast Robin Hellier, David James Kirkwood, Dylan Read and Matthew Seager move adroitly between parts, shifting accents and body language to make transitions clear. Ana Inés Jabares-Pita has designed a set that supports that nimbleness of the cast. The true magic of theatre is creating places and people in an instant that you completely believe. A small ensemble can sometimes feel like Tommy Cooper changing hats. With a minimum of props, this group portrayed a succession of situations with vivid clarity.

The live sound score by Anneke Kampman was simply amazing. She created ambience, soaring melodies, a wide variety of sound effects and really brought the whole philosophy of Oram to aural life. You can follow her on SoundCloud to hear more, but if you can catch her live do. The frisson between the music and the players energised the whole audience.

You can get a taster here: