This is the first in a series of works I have started where I go to public spaces, some obvious some obscure, and create a piece of music using the objects and natural resonations of the chosen spaces that I feel represent each individual space and my experience of it.
I chose the flood tunnels underneath the Bridge of Dee because it has always intrigued me as a space, the long damp chambers interconnecting, twisting, a labyrinth hidden under the foundations of Aberdeen city. As with all spaces of this nature it remains unoccupied: both humans and animals aware of the dangers when the rivers tide is high. Yet it still has an aura of activity, a life not of the conventional city scape, a calm activity, a soft touch. The tunnels had a fluid ambience, the echos drifting through the space subtlety caressing the hard walls always dwindling before escaping from the cold caverns.
Well it’s that time with the big end of degree show looming its ugly, but very exciting, head. I believe it is costumery for 4th years to begin to freak out at this point, or at least start worrying that everything they’ve done is not good enough, or that they’ll never get everything finished in time, or that they’ll have to compromise their work too much to accommodate their fellow students, etcetera etcetera. So why is it I do not feel worried? Even though I’m just back from holiday where I done no practical work, though my workbook is filling up nicely, and still have a fair amount to do?
I think reasons for my calm state are that I am one of the lucky 4th years who has a clear idea of where they are, what they are doing, and what they need to do to get there. I don’t want to seem over confident because I am considering the worries listed in the previous paragraph and understand that my work may have to go through some drastic changes due to the issue of space, but I think that if I started to freak out now I wouldn’t use my time nearly as efficiently as I should be at this point. I still have quite a bit to do, but, I used my time away to look at where I was from an outsiders point of view and began to grasp the extent of what lay in front of me, both practically and conceptually. And for the first time in my life I saw the advantages of lists. Lists allow you to see the volume of what you have left to do, they convert the magnitude of tasks into easily categorized chunks which you can then set about organising into the most practical plan of action. Praise be to the list!
The only issue I find myself dealing with is that I keep having more and more ideas for works that I want to do for the degree show. But can I really achieve all of them? I guess its a matter of prioritising the ones that are both achievable and fit in with the work I have already been creating. It would be nonsensical of me to start giving up my time to works that are so fresh and out of context to the works I am currently trying to ‘resolve’, as I have been trained to call it. But I do feel it would be a waste not to at least try them out. I don’t want to give up on an idea which could grow into something striking. But I know for a fact that I am not the first, or the last, 4th year art student who has, or is, having this dilemma. All I can actively do is give the ideas a small, but fair, go and from this determine the best course of action.
So onwards and upwards to the finale of my educational life.
Rebbeca Horn is a German installation artist wroking since the 1970’s. She has covered many themes in her work, varying from social issues to do with immigration and refugees as well as work that deals with war atrocities. One element of her work that is a constant is her visual style, the symbolic use of stringed instruments as a reference to humanity and our form, and the dexterity of our creations, however destructive.
In Tower of The Nameless she sets a monument to the refugees from Balkan states in the form of a tower with mechanically playing violins. The hight and motion of the tower representing the huge plight of these refugees, the violins an expression of their bodies.
In her work Concert for Anarchy a grand piano is suspended upside down from the ceiling by heavy wires attached to its legs. It hangs solidly yet precariously in mid-air, out of reach of a performer, high above the gallery floor. A mechanism within the piano is timed to go off every two to three minutes, thrusting the keys out of the keyboard in a cacophonous shudder. The keys, ordinarily the point of tactile contact with the instrument, fan disarmingly out into space. At the same time, the piano’s lid falls open to reveal the instrument’s harp-like interior, the strings reverberating at random. This unexpected, violent act is followed between one and two minutes later by a retraction as the lid closes and the keys slide back into place, tunelessly creaking as they go.