For the past week on bus trips to work my blackbook has been periodically filled with notes and diagrams for the creative works portfolio of the research project. It's common knowledge that when you spend an extended amount of time on a couple of works, they'll inevitably evolve, suiting a new idea or repair themselves after a stunning failure. Both the Teapot Work and Sumi_ have been in this situation for awhile.
In the case of the Teapot Work the main issue was presentation - the original idea was for a performance/installation situation that closely resembled the work that inspired it, Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting In A Room. And that was the problem really. On Saturday morning I recorded a handful of iterations for both the red and white teapots, capturing the sound of teapot and playing the recording back into the teapot four times. As an experiment I left the window open as I recorded the first and successive captures. The sound of street traffic and birdcalls found their way into the teapot, which in turn subtly articulated the resonances at play. The drone of a vacuum cleaner in the room next door created an interesting effect whilst I was recording the white teapot.
During the week when I was thinking of ways I could define this work better, I reminded myself of the association between the teapot and its cultural connotations - as a ceremonial and domestic object. I thought about its domestic meaning and decided it should be better incorporated into this context. After listening to the recordings I made on Saturday morning the action of leaving the window open to the world outside seemed like a good idea. Along with this and other sounds of the house (vacuum cleaner, conversations, radio, music) the teapot is posited in a domestic and identifiable context. I'm still to make recordings of the green (big) teapot and Lauren's heavy metal teapot, further updates soon.
This work has been troublesome for most of the year. Since exhibiting it in an early form about a year ago, I immediately identified some problems with it shortly after seeing it in the gallery context. The main issue was the fact that the two elements in operation (sound and image) were physically distant to each other and thus didn't make the intended perceptual relationship between the two convincing. During a discussion with Robin Minard back in April, he suggested some ways of bringing these elements closer together, but nothing seemed to stick.
In Germany last month, whilst exploring a sprawling exhibition in the Hamburger Bahnhof I settled on the best way of presenting this work. Where in the early version of the work, the loudspeaker would sit on the ground facing up towards the observer, the loudspeaker would instead be suspended and brought up to face the observer at waist height. A second loudspeaker of a smaller size would be suspended at eye level, albeit behind the print. As the work is observed the sound element would oscillate slowly between the two speakers, from the visible loudspeaker the upper hidden one. This would in the first instance, direct the observers attention to the source of the sound and a visible symbol for listening (i.e. the loudspeaker), then as the sound moved to the hidden loudspeaker, this would assimilate the sound with the detail of the print. I tested this a couple of nights ago and despite some niggles it seems to be on the right track.
The idea for the third and final work came rather belatedly whilst I was in Europe. Expanding on some ink drawings I've had sitting around for awhile, I decided I would use this image as a blueprint for a sculptural sound object that operates on two independent and unified states. It's difficult to explain succinctly at the moment (it is 3AM after all) but I will say it's similar to the process of Sumi_, the exception being that it's more ambitious.