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Residency with Espaces Sonores of the Haute École des Arts du Rhin, Mulhouse and Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg: 14th March - 8th April 2022 

For the second part of the residency with Espaces Sonores I was hosted in an apartment space within the Haute École des Arts du Rhin, which I felt would allow me to connect more with the teachers and students than I was able to while in Mulhouse.

Here is a brief breakdown of my activities during my time in Strasbourg:

* An artist talk/presentation at the school where I introduced myself and explained the reasons and processes behind my current work.

* The first workshop session to take motors and mechanisms from discarded products and construct sound-making devices.

* An artist talk/presentation to a group of students at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg.

* Recording sessions in the studio space of the conservatory.

* A trip to the Tinguely Museum in Basel and a studio visit to meet artist Zimoun in Bern, Switzerland.

* Live performances in the schools of Strasbourg and Mulhouse, organised by the students.

Please click on the underlined links to see more details


Presentation of Project

Gérard Starck, Joachim Montessuis and Tom Mays worked together to organise a presentation of my work to the students on the day after my arrival. We started at 18h as planned and only one student was present, Lee Jeongbin, although a couple more showed up towards the end. I really thought there would be more interest compared to Mulhouse as the school is bigger and also the various issues and activities that were happening in January were not so present (mainly COVID-19 and exams!).

Antoine Spindler, an associate of Tom's, joined us afterwards and we worked out the best date to give another presentation for students at the conservatory. They both give sessions to students who are more interested in acousmatic, electroacoustic and more experimental music, so the presentation would be part of the class.

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Workshop to build sound-making devices


Following a trip to Emmaüs with Gérard, plus students Ulysse and Drice, on Monday to collect even more unwanted items - see the first slide above that shows the amazing amount that Gérard had already gathered for us! - I had a complete one day workshop session with a number of students, from both Strasbourg and Mulhouse which was fantastic!

After explaining a little about my own work we set about dismantling almost every obsolete and unwanted product to discover what was inside and understand a little of how it worked. We then assembled small bluetooth amplifiers and started testing the various motors and mechanisms to see how they responded to sound. Some of the students wanted to hear the sound being played also, so we used any speakers also found inside the products, connecting them to the amplifier's spare terminals.

The objective for me was for the participants to assemble their device inside a featureless cardboard box - a nod to the work of Zimoun but also these are cheap and easy to transport flat and assemble for projects. I hoped that at the end of the session we could have a collection of boxes, each making their own characteristic sound and possibly movement. However some student used large parts of the products we took apart and Drice especially was working in a different way, using an old tone generator he had acquired to activate his motor. I liked that some ideas to use the method I had demonstrated were already developing in different ways.

I am still waiting for some feedback regarding the session but know that the participants have other more important things going on in their lives!

Merci beaucoup à tous les participants et surtout Gérard.

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Presentation at the Conservatory

Conservatory present

Photos by Tom Mays

The presentation to the students of the conservatory took place during their regular classes with Tom and Antoine, hence we already had a few more than the one at the beginning of this page. And it was a great session with some good questions from the students and Antoine! One interesting question was whether the resulting sound was important to me, which I would say it is as I like the sounds that are produced, but he meant in a musical and compositional way, to make music. We didn't get to discuss it more deeply, but I am not sure how important the actual sound heard is to some musicians, as to me many seem more interested in the gesture that creates the sound, the combination of sounds and their skill of combining or playing them. I am always reminded of the owner of the violin shop in Bristol telling me it amazed him how many players who came to buy instruments from him did not actually listen to the instrument, more their playing.

But I am going off-topic. Thank you so much Tom and Antoine for inviting me to meet your enthusiastic students.

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Recording Session at the Conservatory


Tom also kindly offered me the chance to record the devices I am currently using in one of the recording studio spaces they have installed in the conservatory. I had visited the week before and knew that one of the smaller spaces would suit my needs perfectly. In the video (above left) you will hear the sounds recorded by the various ambient microphones that were positioned very close to the machines. Headphone listening is highly recommended as there are some incredibly detailed sounds that could be lost through other methods of listening.

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A day trip to Switzerland

Swiss trip

I meant to visit the Jean Tinguely Museum in Basel when I was in Mulhouse earlier in the year, but there were still various travel restrictions in place and I was not sure if I needed a test to cross the border into Switzerland. So as I had made all the recordings I needed to I decided to take a day trip 'down south'. Even though I faced heavy but wet snow when I arrived, I still made the pilgrimage to the museum and I was so happy that I did. It was so great to see and experience all these works I had either only read about or had seen videos of previously. All the photos above are from the museum. The temporary exhibition "Party for Öyvind" featuring various works by Öyvind Fahlström and other artists was really great too.

After this I took the train further south to Bern where I visited the studio of Zimoun. I have followed his work for a number of years now and obviously our work has many things in common, not only that we both use second-hand and used motors. He was a very gracious host and after my tour we sat chatting for quite a time  - until I had to run back through the heavier snow to catch my train back to France.

Thank you Zimoun for your time and hospitality.

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Photos by Lee Jeongbin

And so the final week arrived, the concerts in Strasbourg and Mulhouse finally were organised and student Rose Collin and I performed one evening in La Mine, HEAR, Strasbourg and the next evening at Salle Audio, HEAR, Mulhouse. For these events we had a larger audience in Strasbourg and quite a small one in Mulhouse, but it seemed most people enjoyed the presentation in some way.

Each time I present this work, people like to gather around the table to see and ask what was going on, which is great. And I received many comments that some kind of projection or video would work. I have not worked with video projection for many years, only conceding with the collaborative project 'mic.' with Portuguese artist Hugo Olim. But I also feel I would want to see what is going on a little more if I were watching. I mean I am watching while presenting the work and I always enjoy it so why not share it!?

This approach will need a lot of time and consideration to get right as I am sure the audience will concentrate more on the images than the action and sounds - I have to find a way to present it so the sounds are equally considered.

Thank you to all involved, especially Jeongbin, Alexie and Basile for organising, Brice for helping out and Rose for performing!

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