Last weekend the 'Expo' festival came to town. From friday to sunday there was many experimental music and video installations/performances (perfect timing considering my sound project!).
On friday night I went to 'Tower Works', the opening concert for the festival. This included a piece on Baikal Ice by Peter Cusack, work by Jez Riley French to reflect the 'subtle aspects of seemingly silent objects', future soundscapes commissions by Yannick Dauby and and Chris Watson which predicted what York and Taipei (in Taiwan) would sound like in thirty years time and a performance by Lee Patterson based on his research in the Tower Works, originally a pin mill, in Leeds.
I heard my first experimental music performances in Berlin and I have to admit it was a bit of a shock. I'd never heard anything like it in my life. Since then I can't say that I go looking for experimental music, but if the opportunity arises I do try and experience more. It feels good for me somehow..like medicine. The taste is not always great but you know there's some benefit.
But what I really like about experimental music performances is watching the sound artists. They often have funny mannerisms and physicality that comes out when they get lost in performance. But thats the dancer in me..I should concentrate on opening my ears. At the Tower Works performance Yannick Dauby made a good point. Just before his piece he said 'I am going to turn off the light now. Because we don't need our eyes to hear'.
Unfortunately due to life commitments, such as work and food, I didn't make it to the festival on saturday. But I did spend most of sunday in leeds city centre experiencing Expo.
I saw/heard virtual bell ringing by Leeds Bell ring Association, in the Leeds City Museum, which was very surreal as they had fluorescent tubes with an infra red sensor so when the bell ringers swiped their hands through a bell chimed. There were also some videos of them ringing the actual bells, which involved great movement and made me want to create a piece with bell ringers!
I saw sound and video installations at the Leeds art gallery, in Millennium Square and in the cells and court rooms of the Leeds Town Hall. This included a piece of a friend of mine, Daniel Staincliffe. His piece 'Disacarded Stips Of Cassette Tape Found In And Around Fei Jia Cun, Beijing 2009 is simply that, and was constructed as part of a residency in Bejjing using cassette tape found in roadside bushes. It was re-spliced to create a 'new tape'.
It was played from a cassette player sitting on a table in the middle of a court room. The sound of Chinese pop songs, crackling slightly due to age/erosion of the tape, wafting in to the jury box was quite surreal. I am often drawn to works like this for their exoticism,yet also their connection to real lives.
To close my afternoon I heard some installations at East Side Arts (keep an eye on this NSCD students. Its within walking distance of college) and took part in Christina Kubisch's installation 'Electromagnetic Consumer'. For this I was given a pair of headphones, fitted with magnetic coils, and free run of a unoccupied shop unit. Wires and cables crossed the shop and obviously already exist in the walls. The headphones pick up the electromagnetic sounds allowing you to create your own soundscape by moving to, and away, from the wires. It was incredible. A whole invisible world suddenly became audible.
And the amazing thing was the whole of the Expo festival is free.