Musique Concréte Of The Building In The Building - midresidency performance

Mid-residency Performance : Musique Concréte Of The Building In The Building

Immersive Soundscape with discrete headphone installations within from 16.00 with Live Performance layering perspective 18.00 - 19.30


Ramblings of a Sound Artist

Thoughts on the performance

The mid-residency performance was particularly challenging because of a family bereavement. The event was accompanied by a sister event in a local venue, juxtaposing a solo work In the building with collaboration outside of it. The artist edited batches of audio and send them to a group of sound artists in a collaborative event inspired by the Leverhulme residency sound project. In Senate House, the artist opened up the room from 16.00, with a soundscape output through the room PA within which more directional sounds were output from the two main speakers, within this, Senate House Fragmented could be listened to on headphones, with the room soundscape behind and behind that, the building sounds themselves, the first manifestation of layering perspective. The artist felt that it was unusual to present a complete sound piece featuring a sound environment and taking this whole and locating it within the very soundscape from which the sounds were taken, such that listeners perceive it as a whole to be listened to and observed, while simultaneously, being immersed within it. Therefore, this duality was extended with headphone installations and the design of the 45-minute live performance from 18.15 – 19.00 played with two output systems, combining the room PA speakers, with the main speakers. The 45minute piece featured the following themes:

  • Layering soundscapes, within soundscapes, like a Russian doll of perspectives
  • The patterns of behavior in Library users, the buildup of activity in the library, from the rounded sounds of book use, for research to the percussive, frenetic sound of keyboard tapping as students type with increasing rapidity towards dissertation deadlines and the juxtaposition between the calm of a still summer day outside with the antlike frenetic intensity within the reading rooms inside.
  • The book moves, the levels in the stack full of books, the movement of books and spaces left, now more reverberant while decisions are made over how to repurpose it and the intense competition as parties fight for it within the walls of the tower. This linked with the book move in the War and the book move that brought the Warburg Institute library to Senate House. The sounds of the book moves were particularly intense and engaging, from rolling trolley wheels, to screeching taping of boxes across a range of acoustics from stack, to basement to the central vestibule and the vans.
  • The journey up the tower from the ground floor, the difference between the two different lifts systems and stairwells and changing relationship with the external sounds up the floor levels.
  • The changing sounds of the seasons, from wind decreasing and birdsong increasing and changing relationship with the omnipresent sounds of construction.
  • Within the environmental sounds, the voices of Shakespeare were used in the first Granular Sampler built for the residency, using voices from the library and the voices from SAS, harmonizing the two parts of the institution within the overall soundscape of Senate House
  • Although the building work sounds reverberate through the library, while still finding a sense of direction through the complex building structure, the artist at times found the source of the noise illusive, this evokes the final theme, that of the dislocation between was is perceived (what appears to be) and what actually ‘is’ in Senate House. Entrance halls to a brick wall (where the concert hall was never built) to where the fake Georgian façade of Stewart House, screens the modern administrative building within. Light switches that don’t turn on lights (listed features) with lights that cant be controlled, even 'The Shop' appears to be a studio, but is really part of the Membership Hall, with a sheet of glass forming the goldfish bowl.

Three arrangements were used, one connected to the PA and the other two used to create the piece, live, with processing modules featuring the key themes through the piece in Max/MSP and Super Collider.

Max/MSP can be used for free for a trial period, this version was used for the June performance, before the software was purchased for the final performance arrangement

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