Dodgy Provenance And The Fantastic Mundanity Of Sound In Space

by Ball, Steven

2013

Duration
18
Exhibition
Visual Thinking: Between Sound and Light, Camden Arts Centre, 2013

I took the recordings that I had made in the Film in Space show, looped them and imagined an alternative provenance for them, inventing a narrative which was quite fantastical while tracing a rather mundane situation, in effect it became something of a science fiction journey in which the continual presence of the sound of 16mm projectors became reinterpreted as the engines of some kind of implied inter-planetary craft.

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The final event in the Visual Thinking: Between Sound and Light workshop that I organised with Rob Mullender and Duncan White at Camden Arts Centre was presented on Saturday 16 February. For the workshops we had proposed that invited participants respond to the sounds of the Film in Space exhibition curated by Guy Sherwin. We posed the question: "taking the installed works' existence in the space and time of the exhibition as a given, what might become of sound as their residual and mutable extension?". The sound that we were inviting response to were sounds that Rob and I had recorded in the gallery space during the exhibition. Rob had concentrated on making close-up recordings of the machinery and sounds in the show, most often the sound of the 16mm projector parts, squeaky reels and so on, while my recordings were of the ambience of the rooms, ostensibly the sound of each piece, or at least in close proximity to them, using binaural microphones. Of course the sound in the room at the point of viewing a specific piece didn't necessarily reflect the actual intended (or otherwise) sound of the work. Rather it was the sound of everything inside and outside the room relative to the position in which I was standing. Our outline statement for the project suggested that "…faith to the provenance, authenticity, veracity and intention of the originating work is less crucial than the possibility of the extensible production of new material given birth through the process, giving free reign to transformative imaginative reconfigurations." For my performance Dodgy Provenance and the Fantastic Mundanity of Sound in Space I took the recordings that I had made, looped them and imagined an alternative provenance for them, inventing a narrative which was quite fantastical while tracing a rather mundane situation, in effect it became something of a science fiction journey in which the continual presence of the sound of 16mm projectors became reinterpreted as the engines of some kind of implied inter-planetary craft. I performed it as a spoken word text accompanying the relevant sounds, the room in darkness, I was seated behind the audience. The text was written very quickly and only finished the night before I performed it. It does, I hope, strike the balance of being a slightly absurd mundanity, perhaps with more work it might have been more outlandish and absurd. It was very much an experiment that could become a process applied to any number of sounds, and perhaps I will make more of these in the future.

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