A discussion and workshop exploring forms of listening.
Upgrade discussion & workshop, CCA, Glasgow 25th March 2009.
I was asked by New Media Scotland to give a presentation on my work and I thought it would interesting to give people the opportunity to try some of the experiences I have would otherwise be only talking about. I asked musician and music therapist Aby Vulliamy to join me in devising a workshop on listening. It was good fun and well attended - standing room only!
The workshop involved simple exercises aimed at heightening awareness of small sounds and silence. These were interspersed with informal discussion and short presentations on elements of my artistic practice. For both Aby and I, listening is about attention. Attention not only to what may or may not is being communicated verbally or non-verbally, but also to the wider activities that surround that situation - a process of listening with your eyes and looking with your ears. For both of us listening presents a relational experience, a framework for working with people in many different situations.
I was asked by Heather Lynch, Education Programmer at Tramway to host a series of conversations bringing together different perspectives on mental health and creativity. Contributors came from a variety of different settings but shared a personal and professional interest in mental health. They included psychiatrists, health care workers, people working in the community and artists, as well as individuals and family members who have experienced mental ill health.
A series of group and individual conversations brought these different perspectives together. Some of these encounters took place around a table laid with art materials to allow for a parallel and visually based thinking process to emerge. Elements from these conversations were reproduced in a Tramway publication "Creative Practice & Mental Health" ISBN 978-1-899-551-46-0.
In February 2008, myself and Simon Yuill were invited by Constant to conduct a practical workshop with students at Advanced Performance Training (a.pt) at de Singel, Antwerp. We proposed a project which developed the video-based interaction software used in the installation aerial (brass) to create a more flexible tool that can be applied to improvised performance.
The five-day workshop was based around an updated piece of software, 'Object Score Notation' designed by Simon Yuill. The software tracks movements via video camera which translates movement into visual notation that can be used to construct audio or visual scores. It can also feedback into the performance and notation system itself i.e. creating commands for other performers.
The workshop was conducted in the main space at Bains Connective in Brussels, formerly a swimming pool. Within the space, simple objects and furniture provided participants with physical elements they could use as their notational 'canvas'. They could construct a notation system from their own movements and their interactions with the objects in the space. From this they created a series of 'object scores'. Participants worked collectively in creating and altering these 'object scores' following a FLOSS paradigm of writing and re-writing each other's contributions. This created a tight feedback loop between writing and performing - the motions of performance became recorded as notations in the scores. These scores then generated the possibilities for further performances which could re-write the previous notations.
Prior to the practical workshop an introductory presentation was given about performance notation looking at examples such as the Scratch Orchestra, Anthony Braxton, Ray Lucas, Bruce Nauman etc. This was followed by a practical session in which a scene from Yasujiro Ozua's film Tokyo Story (1953) was notated using pen and paper. These activities and discussions provided a grounding and common starting point for participants to participate in the workshop.
As a result of the workshop with a.pt, Constant invited us to return to Les Brigittines Contemporary Art Center for Movement & Voice in Brussels in February 2009 to work with a different interdisciplinary group of improvisers , including dancers, storytellers, musicians and performance artists. This group of international performers wanted to undertake a period of practice-based research working with the software to develop systems for improvised interactive storytelling. The group have collated material from the workshop here
Special thanks to
In March 2008, in my final year of my practice-based PhD I organised an interdisciplinary workshop between a small group of academics from a range of disciplines (architecture, interaction design, biology and fine art) in the University of Dundee. This involved creating a physical collaborative model of the group's research project.