Sarah Birchall | Toby Boston | Wenyu Du | Jiajing He | Xiuling He | Timotej Kuhar Cernej | Maria Marshall | Xin Ni | Mike Olliston | Xinyu Pan | Finbar Prior | Beth Robertson | Elliot Somerfield | Minne Sun | Shiyu Tan | Andy Trewren | Keisuke Tsuchiya | Naifu Zhang
Opening performance programme: Thurs 1 Dec, 14:00 – 16:00
Online research symposium: Sat 3 Dec, 12.00 – 14:00
The exhibition’s title, Noise Bodies, is a tribute to artist Carolee Schneemann and composer James Tenney’s eponymous 1965 performance work [i] – one of Schneemann’s co-minglings, “works combining object making with movement, sound and participatory experience ” [ii]. Performed by the two collaborators themselves in “wearable sculptures” consisting of domestic objects to be sounded such as “refrigerator tubes, ice trays, carburettor vents” – currently on display in Schneemann’s Barbican retrospective [iii] – Noise Bodies produced what Schneemann termed an “own body sound system”. This exhibition expands this notion of ‘co-mingling’ to include the coming together of the works of the 18 graduating sound artists, touching on multiple questions of embodiment, human and otherwise, and their entanglement.
Sarah Birchall’s ‘Listen as I Have Listened’, through diary entries, drawings, photography and audio recordings, sublimates a personal relationship with Dilston Gallery, inviting the visitor to locations where the building has spoken to the artist. Toby Boston’s ‘Sky Father, Earth Mother’ explores our relationship with the planets through a multichannel audio-visual composition. Wenyu Du’s ‘They Know We’re Listening’ comprises an array of ‘listening pillows’, each fed by a microphone located elsewhere in the exhibition space, playing with the self-surveillance that gallery visitors tend to impose on their own voice. Jiajing He’s ‘Listen, Be Aware, Meditate’, adheres to a process of Pauline Oliveros-inspired Deep Listening in the creating of a new instrument, presented here itself, alongside the album of recordings it has generated and a processual video document. Xiuling He’s sound installation consists of a composition that works with field recordings played across an array of speaker cones whose sonic vibrations in turn, through reflective material, produce light reflections and shadow, exploring the relationship between what we experience and what is truly present. Timotej Kuhar Cernej’s interrogation of ‘sonic branding’ and identity formation is presented here through the invitation to the visitor to climb inside his felt sculpture. Maria Marshall’s ‘Warping the Weft / Wefting the Warp’ introduces a large-scale loom hanging from the ceiling and sounded out by the connected speakers during the weaving process, creating a bond between the electronic elements and acoustic surroundings. Xin Ni’s mixed media installation, ‘Debris Tells’ invites visitors to play with two hourglass instruments that feed into a compositional layer that meditates on the connections between accelerated cycles of waste and noise pollution. Mike Olliston’s installation orbits around sounds mixed from the audio files (mp3s, voicemail, etc) from second-hand hard drives readily available on eBay. Xinyu Pan presents new scores that play with text and graphics generated from AI analysis of works from other sound artists; each in turn presented here with a recording of its performance by colleagues and friends. Finbar Prior employs the form of enlarged drumheads with reflective mylar ‘skins’ to build his own giant microphones, here in the gallery used in turn to play back their own recordings. Beth Robertson’s ‘Con-crete’ explores the testimonies of the more-than-human here in a building over 110 years old, inviting the visitor to pick up one of a bank of telephones with the quiet anticipation of a voice, of someone at the other end of the line. Elliot Somerfield’s composition and readymade sculpture explore the profuse and constant sounds made by the human mouth in excess of speech and follow the experience of double jaw surgery. Minne Sun experiments with the experience of a trip to Paris, capturing unconscious sounds in a microcosm of the larger journey of life. Shiyu Tan’s ‘Autumn/一叶知秋’ foreground our every action and its cyclical relation with its environment to ask, did you really listen carefully, is there something out there in the universe that can speak or even shout to us without us noticing? Andy Trewren’s ‘Public Mode’ explores different registers of participation and their interrelation through two interactive audio sculptures that are further activated in live dance performances with The Follow Through Collective. Keisuke Tsuchiya imagines a future acoustic ecology where humans parasitically wear giant fish-heads as extended organs through which to listen and breathe, presenting ceramic sculpture, drawings and live performance. Naifu Zhang invites visitors to use their voices to activate an audio visualisation based on the artist’s vivid imaginings.
The exhibition includes an opening performance programme on Thursday 2 Dec, 14:00 – 16:00, and the research symposium will take place online on Saturday 3 Dec, 12.00 – 14:00 with the full programme of both to be announced shortly.
Curator: Irene Revell
Course Leader: Thomas Gardner
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[i] Noise Bodies had its first performance in 1965 in Judson Hall for the third edition of Charlotte Moorman’s New York Annual Avant Garde Festival.
[ii] All Schneemann citations from Corrin, Lisa G. 2016. “Noise Bodies and Noisy Women: A Conversation with Carolee Schneemann.” In A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s, edited by Corrin, Lisa G. and Corinne Granof, 110-111. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
[iii] Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics, Barbican Art Gallery, London, to 8 January 2023.