Some thoughts on a completed exhibition

Now that the exhibition is over I suppose I can reveal my little nicknames for the sound recordings. The first one, the voices, was called Eggs on Sundays. I think this is because there were eggs in the rendevouz cafe, where I recorded a chunk of the dialogue. No one mentions eggs, as far as I can remember – although you could say they haunted every other dish that audibly pops up. Right down to the soup of the day – which I became confused by, and ended up ordering eggs and sausages and chips instead, by accident. The other reason is that I had spent the previous saturday night drinking small bottles of beer and discussing, for a good few hours, the merits and permutations of eating eggs on sunday mornings. I put the recording together mainly on sundays, thinking always of the almost limitless possibilities of those oval shells of pleasure.

The second was/is called A Tooth in Metal, which was really an echo from recording last winter, and the symphony of rain I repeatedly attempted to construct from the roof of the Anglia Square carpark. The sound, amplified in headphones, of rain hitting the glass and then falling, two, three drips at a time from every conceivable direction, onto a staircase of corrugated metal windowsills – it was cold, peaceful, endlessly captivating. I could’ve stood there for hours looking up at the no-longer offices. Well, I did stand there for hours. It was like a performance of John Cage’s 4’33”, with Construction (in Metal) being played off in the distance. And I have never made that connection before, but it now seems obvious that the ‘…in Metal’ part of the nickname comes from that John Cage piece, with the ‘teeth’ coming from the added improvisations of the corrugated metal, arranged like lines of incisors and molars.

The last one is my favourite. When I started recording, I had no system with which to catalogue each file. There is no clock on the Edirol, so the raw files are simply called R1_0001, R1_0002 etc. when they are transfered. Time seemed like the most logical way to keep track, so I started adding a meticulous date system to every recording, like Robert Frank’s negative filing cabinets.

This quickly became ridiculous. ‘Tuesday_4-3-2011_10-41’ – no idea what that recording is of, and it’s probably around 40 minutes long. I have dozens similarly (unhelpfully) named, with the hollow description of a date stamp. My recording folder looked like an accounts spreadsheet. After that, I started to note the place and something unique about each recording, something to put me back to the memory of the experience and to remind me what might be worth salvaging from the tape.

So one of the names for a recording related to the first time I had experimented with a home made windshield, to try and lessen the influence that the thug of wind had on many of my recordings. A few days later I realised the christening I had given this recording – Half an Hour with the Fur – was hilarious. Like a bizarre porn film. Part way between bestiality and abstracted close-ups of tangled, undulating pubic hair. The name stuck.

Of the exhibition itself, a few things surprised me in terms of how the recordings, poems and photographs knitted together. The fact that the poems were in a second language gave them a distance from the letterpressed words, the meaning of those words, and the stanza spacing. This distance is something I associate, for whatever reason, with translations of mainly Eastern European poetry – and so for me the poems had that same echo of some difficult aporia left unsaid. This was the same slight disconnection in the recordings (half conversations, ill-heard music) and Angus’ photos (the way double exposure forcibly juxtaposes disparate images and simultaneously distances the photographer from them).

Out of all the different techniques and mediums that we had in the show, I remember the projector room as the most complete. It was also the closest to the original iteration of the Anglia Square idea, detailed elsewhere on these pages, from the Magdalen Street festival. Two double-exposed slides overlapping on a wall in the dark; the fucked amp spraying the wall with a glue of dust and voices and half-music. The light seemed to be there only to hold the pictures against the wall.

Perhaps it’s just because this is my day off at the top of a sunny afternoon, but I could believe in this same setup in a room like the one that housed Hockney’s giant tree canvases: a single photograph twenty feet tall, double-tracked, the grain bursting like blood vessels over the plaster.

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