April 25, 2020

WFH: DAY 26. Last night I had another dream about losing a bag while travelling. (It recurs, periodically.) The interpretative range for such in popular culture is a wide as it is contradictory. For example: ‘You fear losing something precious’; ‘You need to let go of something that’s holding you back’; and, ‘You’re losing it, mate!’ (I’ll go with the latter, under the present circumstances.) In the bag was a book of preliminary studies for a new project. (‘Don’t even think about the meaning of that, John!’, warned the ‘muse’.)

8.45 am: A communion. 9.30 am: In the studio, I turned to the analogue recording of yesterday’s bush-beating exploits. There was a quality to the sound reminiscent of aluminium foil being crumpled. 11.00 am: Talking of which … I like this, very much. It’s Cadbury’s response to the KitKat:

As I listened to the half-speed version of the recording, my mind recalled Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991). The correspondence is one of morphology: small dislocated fragments, and the spaces in between.

House (detail) #4:

12.00 pm: The afternoon centred upon exploratory work. I rarely use ‘experimental’ in relation to my practice. The term, properly speaking, refers to endeavours that are either based upon untried techniques or involve untested ideas, or else seek to develop a radically new style. I would be working with established ideas and techniques. However, I didn’t know what would ensue their application to the recording at hand.

The exploration involved re-recording the digital version of the half-speed analogue source to the Revox A77, at 7 1/2 ips. Then, re-recording the output from the tape recorder, played at 3 3/4 ips, on the digital recorder. The process was repeated. In the background, I dealt with research admin, began testing high-quality microphones in conjunction with low-quality tape recorders, sourced out-do-date software with which to run an out-of-date piece of hardware, and listened to improvisatory music captured at the ‘Listen to The Voice of Fire‘ symposium held at Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth, in 2019. (‘Perhaps you ought to play along with material like this if you want to hone your skills, John’, suggested the ‘muse’.)

The quarter-speed rendering of the crackling twigs and branches sounded like a timber house in a state of perceptual collapse. I thought again of Parker’s exploding garden shed, and recalled another witness’s experience of an appallingly fearful sound, recorded in Jones’ collection: ‘One time, [the evil spirit] made so great a noise that the man of the house, of a sudden, thought the house was going away.’

4.00 pm: A constitutional to the municipal cemetery. The last for a while. Observations: a mother, sister, and daughter dies at 36 years of age; a husband and wife die within a year of one another; a baby dies at birth; a husband, brother, and father dies at 42 years of age; and next to him a widower, father, and grandfather, who lived twice as long.

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