Fresh Winds 2016

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Fresh Winds is an Art Biennale held in the small town of Gardur in Iceland, curated by the amazing Mireya Samper.

 

Simon Whetham was one of 50 international artists invited to participate in the festival from 15 December 2015 to 17 January 2016. During this time he constructed and composed a large-scale sound installation inside the town's working lighthouse and collaborated with a number of the other artists, presenting new performative works and creating sound design for video and performance projects.

'Ómur'

The focus of the initial stages of my participation in Fresh Winds 2016 was to create a piece in the working lighthouse of Gardur. I wished to explore vertical 'movement' of sound using a found object on each of the 5 floors which would in some way resonate with sound. My proposal was to create a piece for performance, but as the piece developed it was clear to me that an installation would be more suitable. Composing a piece for installation allowed me more time and consideration regarding the spaces within the lighthouse, how they responded to each other and how the sounds responded both in each space and in the whole lighthouse.

After tests with various found objects and materials, the chosen objects which would resonate with sound from Gardur were two large metal plates (chosen because they sounded like gongs), a metal waste bin (bell-like sound) and a large rectangular paint can (no immediate sonic potential, but from experience I knew this would respond well to low frequencies).

Paint tin plays louder low frequency recordings from 4th level. Note spanners.
Spanners are suspended to be played in performance, but were triggered by footsteps on the staircase.
Side view showing paint tin and spanners suspended beneath staircase
Suspended metal plate with transducer attached on 3rd level. Also featured: photography by Laurent Lafolie
Metal waste bin suspended beneath staircase on 2nd level
Waste bin suspended on 2nd level with transducer attached. Also featured: installation by Maruyama Yoshiko
Metal plate suspended beneath staircase on 1st level. Also featured: installation by Bastien Maxence
Audience climbs the staircase
Metal plate suspended beneath staircase on 1st level. Also featured: installation by Bastien Maxence
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Lighthouse - site-specific performance in collaboration with Ishimoto Kae

I did create a piece for performance in the lighthouse, in collaboration with dance performer Ishimoto Kae from Japan. When I discovered she wished to create a performance using the whole lighthouse I suggested we create a piece together, using objects and sounds found in and created by the lighthouse and it's interior fittings.

After a number of sessions in which we experimented with many ideas, we devised a simple score for each floor using objects found on each. The audience would be required to be small as we wished to lead them from the top of the lighthouse to the bottom and out through the door.

Photography by Lucie Jean.

Kae dances as Simon bows a nail
Kae creates subtle sound from shaking a bulb from the lighthouse
Simon bowing
Kae responds
Simon bows 4 nails, which play 4 different notes
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'Subduction' - site-specific performance in collaboration with Amanda Billberg

In discussing collaboration with Amanda Billberg, a performer from Sweden, she informed me of a strange cellar room under the nearby gym and swimming pool building. The way she described is sounded like the most unsuitable space to make a sound performance, but the more I thought about it, the more an idea hatched.

On visiting the room, my mind was set. I wished to work with Amanda to create a claustrophobic, dramatic piece using the sounds of the room. Water constantly runs and rushes through pipes in the ceiling and down the wall, a vent in the wall whines incessantly, weights and boxing training equipment features everywhere, small heaters with fans sit either side of the space to be used in heated yoga sessions.

Our performance closed the 4th day of exhibition events on 17th January 2016, with a much-larger-than-expected audience who were incredibly attentive and respectful.

Photos and video below by 정상수

Amanda wrestles with rope.
Simon fills the space with low frequencies. Anatol Lafayette captures the action.
Amanda using head torch to light the next movement.
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'Modus Operandi' - performance by Amanda Billberg, sound design by Simon Whetham

Amanda invited me to compose a sound piece to accompany her solo performance at the Megha Gallery in Gardur on 16th January 2016, so we recorded a sketch of her piece in the gallery space. I then created a piece that featured many actions, but occurred in a random order, as well as some other sounds of the space such as the installation by Collin Mura Smith and us playing some nails in the wall.

Amanda then scored her performance to fit the sound piece.

Amanda wrestles with rope.