Residency with Witte Rook, Breda, The Netherlands

Onsite period (5th - 25th July 2021)

Location: Breda, The Netherlands

It took a full day to reach Witte Rook on 5th July, travelling by train from Marseille to Paris, Paris to Lille, Lille to Brussels, Brussels to Antwerp and finally Antwerp to Breda... but I made it! I was met by Ruth de Vos who took me to the residency, showed me around and made me welcome.

I immediately began unpacking and setting up that evening and the following morning, reconfiguring the setup already and including some sounds I recorded during the trip. Thanks again to Breda-based musician Julian Edwardes for lending me his amazing home-built speakers, amplifier and mixing desk!

In brief, here are some of my activities over the three weeks:

6th July - set up studio in main residency building as the other spaces were occupied by other projects

7th - Jos Smolders visited from nearby Tilburg. A great meeting!

8th - met with Merijn Bisschops of De Link in Tilburg who suggested some possible connections but also introduced me to the work of Hans van Koolwijk - an amazing artist who when I contacted him was very enthusiastic about my projects too!

9th - Julian was working at Willem Twee Studios in Den Bosch for three days and invited me to visit, explaining that alongside some classic synthesizers they also had a huge collection of vintage testing equipment (see photo) - thank you Hans Kulk for excitedly demonstrating a little of what they do!

10th - travelled to Den Haag to meet Dewi de Vree, whose work I admire very much. Together we visited the graduate show at the Royal Academy (key works by Farah Rahman and Soyun Park!) and then I attended a Raw Dates event at iii, where I was also kindly given a tour by Matteo Marangoni.

11th - visited the presentations at Witte Rook of the Vrouwenmantel Art Research Group and Mike Megens, attended the opening of an installation by Marylou Petot (who I met online during my remote period) and the project space Clubsolo who were hosting Hamburg collective Lu'um.

13th - moved everything to the larger garden studio at Witte Rook.

16th - visited Dock Zuid in Tilburg to meet with Rogier Telderman and Dyane Donck, both of whom I'd met online. While there I spent some time with Mathijs Leeuwis of Het Concreet in his amazing studio. I also visited De Pont art gallery which is an incredible building. Works by Maya Watanabe and Christian Boltanski were particularly good.

Also during this week I replaced all of the corrupted sections of the video documentation from the first version of Channeling.

17th & 18th - open studio sessions in the afternoons were attended by a few interested people and I also continued to refine the presentation.

20th - visited Ruth in her studio in an old paper factory in Breda. It was great to finally see her work 'in the flesh'.

21st - presented Channeling in Den Haag at Helicopter Studios, kindly hosted by Arvind Ganga as part of his Myriads series of events. It was a lovely evening attended by old friends and new, with musicians Lam Lai and Elisabeth Lusche performing great sets. Hosted by Dewi in her very cool studio as I missed the last train back to Breda...

23rd - an interesting day at Dock Zuid in one of their recording studios, attempting to capture many of the delicate acoustic sounds made by the collection of devices - with the discovery of some I hadn't heard previously! Visited once again by Jos as he sadly could not attend the presentation the following evening.

24th & 25th - sparsely attended open studio sessions gave me time to prepare for the evening of 24th and deinstall in a relaxed way on 25th.

The final presentation at Witte Rook drew a small but appreciative crowd, including Ruth and also Lise Sore of the Witte Rook team, Julian, Rogier and his partner Vera, and Hans van Koolwijk made a special trip to attend! He also gave me a gift of a book he has had published containing documentation of his incredible works. I received great and positive feedback after the piece, with each person seeming to enjoy different aspects of it.

Both presentations and much of the separate elements have been documented and will be combined to show the how the piece is presented and at what stage it is at currently, as I already know it will evolve further once I begin to work on it again.

Many thanks to Esther, Ruth, Lise and Jorieke (although sadly we did not meet), and Kyki who was with Witte Rook when I was selected as artist-in-residence, but by the time I could participate she had left the organisation. You have given me a valuable opportunity to not only greatly develop 'Channeling', but also have been generous and supportive, introducing me to many amazing creative people here in the Netherlands.

6th July studio.jpeg

Devices arranged at Witte Rook studio space - 6th July

9th July willem twee.jpeg

Willem Twee Studios - 9th July

13th July setup above.jpeg
13th July setup front.jpeg

Witte Rook garden studio - 13th July

22nd July helicopter.jpeg

Myriads event, Helicopter, Den Haag - 22nd July

 

Further developments (1st August 2021 - present)

Location: Marseille, France

On leaving Breda, after shipping some books to myself (Dirk Raaijmakers and Hans van Koolwijk) and getting a negative COVID-19 test I headed to Ghent to meet with artist friend Pei-Hsuan Wang who is in a residency there and with fellow artist-exploring-material-traces-of-sound Els Viaene, then arrived in Caen, Normandie in northern France to begin a project with performer and dancer Liz Faris.

I also had the good fortune to meet Guido Hübner, the mastermind behind Das Synthetische Mischgewebe.

Returning to Marseille after a week away from 'Channeling' I took my time to go back through the material I had gathered, plus a full length video of the Myriads presentation in Den Haag was kindly sent to me by Arvind. I combined this with the videos of a 'rehearsal' runthrough made at Witte Rook the same day as that presentation, plus the video documentation of the actual presentation there.

The audio is directly taken from the mixing desk I am now using so you hear the details more than if I used the room recording. Headphone listening is advised with all of the videos to the left.

My intention was to combine these shots of me interacting with the devices and the shots in the third video on the left that show the devices close up and how they are generating some of the sounds you hear. However, I was unable to capture all the devices as there was some misunderstanding and I had very limited time in the recording studio at Dock Zuid in Tilburg. I only managed to capture around half of the devices doing their thing, so if these shots were cut into the performance footage there would still be some parts that had no closeups - and this didn't make sense to me.

So if you really want to watch and hear the whole thing, follow the top link to YouTube. If you want to get an idea of what was going on but don't have or want to spend 40 minutes of your life watching me twiddling knobs and moving microphones, the middle one is for you.

And if you are interested in seeing how the devices react to the sound impulses they are channeling, and how they were prepared to make some of the sounds you hear, please do watch the video at the bottom. The sounds you hear are either very close mic'd or the sound is being picked up by the stylus/pickup you see in the video (guitar string, earplug, q-tip, etc.)

As mentioned, I have received a few responses from those who attended the two presentations:

Great to see the elements come together when you perform. It is precisely the contrast between the natural sounds and the technological nature of the machines that I find interesting in your work, and I found that strongly reflected in your performance.

Ruth de Vos (of Witte Rook) re: Breda presentation

The performance in Witte Rook Breda was intriguing, I enjoyed it a lot. As a colleague I can see how much energy you have put in the research, in the building of all parts, and in the compositions/improvisations: chapeau!

You use a sound palette which is not directly my favorite, but the subtle way you move the microphones changes these minimalistic sounds into music. And the way you work with low frequency energy as a source to operate your electric motors was totally new to me. I am sure that it even will become more music when you are more free to use 'accidents' in your improvisations. So I would suggest: Play as long as possible, so you get bored, and you want to hear something else. At that particular moment, when it is not exciting anymore, new things pop up...

Another way to broaden your palette could be to ask others, friends, sound artists, musicians and amateurs, to improvise with your stuff. They have different characters and will use the 'instruments' in a different way. You will learn a lot!

I wished Amsterdam was closer to Marseille. I do hope to meet you in the future.

Hans van Koolwijk re Breda presentation

I really enjoyed your performance at Witte Rook. Your use of these components and linking them to your compositions produced an experience I had not encountered yet so thank you for that! Placing little machines across the room as well, apart from your main desk, worked great for me acoustically. The room came to life somehow as if these little beings were hard at work in corners and cracks building nests or something ; you’d have to go look for them.

There was a nice balance between the kinetics and amplified sounds, on some occasions in build ups you could have pushed the system more for me :) 

Then again, it’s a small space and an intimate setting, so perhaps this can be too overwhelming. Still, I would like to experience this contrast in volume on a larger system someday. It was nice to sit up close and catching glimpses of how you are working the setup. The cork ( was it a cork ? ) in the little mill worked great!

Your set was balanced and also visually worked like a charm. I get the remarks of others that perhaps you could enlarge the visual aspect by placing cameras up close and use these as visual feedback for the public. On a larger stage, where the distance to the visitor is greater, this might work very well. For me, the mystery works great and I didn’t feel the need to see your movements as much as possible up close. It just…worked and I enjoyed the music. Perhaps visuals of your field recordings that drive your system would work too!

Julian Edwardes re: Breda presentation

The performance felt like opening little boxes of surprises for me. As they were fragile and precarious, even as audience there were some times that I held my breath. Even though it was a series of different elements, it concluded as a whole, as a complete set of music.

Soyun Park re: Den Haag presentation

Your work and in-depth work ethic amazed me.

Note about the performance: be aware of the overall musical line you make. I had a few times the idea that the performance was at (its) end, but then you "started" again.

Vera Hofman re: Breda presentation

I enjoyed your set a lot. With your setup there is a risk of it becoming a gimmick, showing off all the different devices for the sake of it. But you stayed far from that: it was a very musical piece that I would have enjoyed with my eyes closed, or even without knowing the sound producing devices. That said, for a live set, of course seeing what is going on greatly enhances the performances. Normally we would have put your table up in the middle of the room, and have people stand closely around it. It's a shame that that was not possible due to the regulations. With such a technical setup, people like to understand what is going on. I think it will enhance the experience/immersement of the audience if you could explain your setup before your set, so people can relate to it more. Of course you could argue that it takes away the magic / the surprise element so just see what you do with that -- it's a personal desire that I have more often with technical setups like yours.

Arvind Ganga re: Den Haag presentation

What i remember from that night is that you didn't put any heavy amplification on the objects as is often done in these kind of sound art performances, or at least what I've experienced. I think by keeping it subtle you kept the focus and time span attention of the audience for a long time!

My friends and I have a internal joke to not peak too soon on a party night but save energy so you can hold on longer for the party... I'm not sure if it makes sense but that's what i felt for the energy also during your performance.

Farah Rahman re: Den Haag presentation

I enjoy a lot the subtle sounds you created in the performance as well as the nice balance of all the different quality of sounds! 

Lam Lai re: Den Haag presentation

And here's a transcription in note form of the conversation I had with Kang Ji Youn: