Saturday, 5 July 2008

Sitting at the table in the main room, I can see out into the back courtyard and watch the giant chestnut begin to wake up after the fearsome rains of yesterday, rains that drove into every minute.

Worked on emails and internet administration yesterday afternoon after waking late having spent most of the evening reading, including a great interview with Phillip Jeck talking of his personal views towards lack of technical expertise in music and how he feels he compensates by drawing in emotions and resonances in the processes he employs. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with and as such have begun a soft manifesto of sorts, a guide to tape music, a justification for why I do what I do. It should hope to provide guidelines for my future work as Preslav Literary School, to allow me to say this belongs to this project, or not as the case may be.

Then I went out into the day to write this thing, the basis of it. I travelled through the mist of water from the roads, slowly becoming soaked through, and went to the workshop space at Pfefferberg where, holed up in the basement, several colleagues soldered and bridged and re-soldered until they had mechanical noise devices that resonated when motor-driven. I sat writing and occasionally altering the tempo or voltage of my tape machine, simply listening to the nuances of the sounds and noting my thoughts on the tapes I have collected and made over the years.

After this we headed out to Wriezener Bahnhof, an abandoned train station now surrounded by enormous hypermarkets and homeware stores but unbelievably central. The spaces this city possesses never cease to amaze me. Templehof, for instance, the giant airport just south of the centre of town is as big as Mitte, Berlin’s parliamentary, social and commercial heart. It is soon to be abandoned as an airport and re-developed. But as what? And indeed, the Spree, Berlin’s winding river, this too is to be redeveloped – but as what? It is not as though there is a shortage of housing here, or office space, and the factories have all left and the economy is unstable. Something, of course will be built. Surely there are new social functions or possibilities for these spaces, a use that will benefit the residents of the city in a way beyond business? I digress.

(As a positive note about Berlin’s rebuilding, at least they reuse old building where possible, restoring and making good, unlike Newcastle which seems intent to tear down every last characterful industrial building as though the heritage and livelihoods lost must be erased from the cityscape for fear of rememberance and repercussion.)

Wriezener Bahnhof consists of several disused outbuildings, filled for the Tuned City festival, of various installations evaluating architectural space from the standpoint of the acoustic. The evenings events consisted of a fine four-speaker performance from an orchestra of field-recordists who hunched over laptops (as the rain drove through the exposed sides of the building) layered the noises of the city, some manipulated and some naked (the noises, not the artists), into a collage of rememory and acoustic interest.

Perhaps most impressive of all though was the video work by John Grzinich, Location Sound Films, which gave us single camera takes of single channel mix field recording locations. The videos gave a strangely compelling tale of the making of field recording, the technical processes but also the tiny movements within any space (a tiny steam, a cavernous underpass, a ship’s mast, disused water tanks) that create the plethora of acoustic changes noticeable in professional field recording. Through Grzinich’s installation, the value of field recordings as a mapping of unheard sounds, of a location’s acoustic potential in its entirety, was explained, validated and perpetuated.