Concrete choral poem via loudspeaker choir
Manifesto Artist Statement
|Sound work for loudspeaker-choir: 8 loudspeakers in a point-source configuration, Apple computer, audio interface). 47 mins loop.I have long been fascinated with artists’ manifestos: their passion, sometimes-outlandish ideas, insight and, not least, their poetry. I have taken fragments from, and made a cut-up montage out of, many existing manifestos from the Futurists, Dadists, Surrealists, Constructivists, Concretists, Suprematists, Vorticists, Purists, Stuckists etc., re-arranging and reworking them as textual artefacts; before recording several of them in different voices to create a multi-vocal, multi-channel mix. I have deliberately repressed the self-identification of the various artistic movements and their targeted critiques of each other. The process yields a hybrid or ur-manifesto – a sound work that weaves together a rich tapestry of short vocal passages expressing ideas about art, literally giving ‘voice’ to them: there are contradictions, correspondences, resonances, associations, repetitions and humour. Manifesto is a concrete choral-poem that speaks to the artist in us all. Manifesto incorporates and explores theoretical contexts such as such as Death of the author, found text, cut up processes, drawing on William Burroughs, Voice Theory – especially on the acousmatic voice, text-to-speech (orality) and intertextuality.In the arrangement of the recorded voices, I have played with recurring tropes such as the frequent references to revolution and apocalyptic events, and the quest for personal and artistic freedom. Many of the phrases will have been familiar only in print– they have an entirely different character when heard. I have preserved the chronology from which these textual fragments are drawn. There are traces and echoes that emerge as historical markers such as references to horses, buses, typewriters and computers. The multi-vocal presentation in Manifesto provided an opportunity to play with the rhythmic tension between vocal performances, pushing and pulling the tempo and working with the impact of actual and relative coincidence of phrases and even words; while the variations in interpretation and intonation gives tonal colour and comparative shades of meaning which could not be revealed with a single voice. There is also a collective voice.The voices are recorded separately in a relatively close perspective. This gives rise to a sense of intimacy which is compounded by the mode of direct address to its audience. The work can be seen as a form of contemporary hoerspiel, a post-dramatic performance in the form of a “sentence play” such as developed by Peter Handke. It is also inspired by the work of Mauricio Kagel, especially Der Tribun, a collage-text drawn from speeches by demagogic politicians. Manifesto shares with Kagel’s work, the concern with the political use of language.The intimate perspective of the voices collapses the normal sense of distance one might expect at a demonstration (manifestation, Fr.), such as the provocations staged in theatres by modernist avant-garde artists. The audience has the sense of being directly addressed from close-up by the actors. In the context of a public space like the laneway, the speaker array brings to mind the use to which authoritarian regimes put the new medium of radio in the 1930s, just as modernist artists began their own experiments with recorded sound. It embodies technological power exercised monologically. Technology is never neutral.|
Commissioned by Helen Vivian, Curator of Mildura Palimpsest Biennale #9, October 4-7, 2013. Manifesto was presented in the former boardroom of the Australian Dried Fruit Co-operative building, recently purchased and refurbished by Arts Mildura. It was presented using an octaphonic array of loudspeakers with 8-inch bass drivers.
Manifesto was exhibited by Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide April 30-May 25, 2014. It was installed in the lane way at the entrance to the gallery.
Manifesto was exhibited by SEAM, at the Bauhaus University, Weimar, June 2014, at the invitation of Robin Minard, Professor of Electroacoustic Composition and Sound Design. This exhibition was assisted by Arts SA.