Trace Music mf/mp
Karl Leisky, Sam Longmore, Sally Ann McIntyre, William Henry Meung, Charlotte Parallel and Leben Young.
mf/mp and Blue Oyster Art Project Space, are proud to celebrate the opening of Trace Music.
In this exhibition, six contemporary sound makers from throughout Aotearoa NZ present their individual interpretations of trace as it relates to their musical / theoretical / sonic / artistic practices. Taken as a whole, this survey of works explores how the notion of trace can be applied as a conceptual, abstract or literal starting point for contemporary sonic practices.
Trace Music is an aural ecosystem comprised of six small installations dispersed throughout the space so that each is heard in conjunction with the others. Individually, each work is designed to be generative, and sympathetic to those it is shown in relation to. As a result, each piece should be appreciated primarily through its interaction with the other works on display, as well as the those in the room, and rumbles from beyond the gallery space.
As a viewer and listener, we invite you to observe the traces of trace in its slippery presence, variously as artistic provocation, conceptual fixation or central preoccupation. The works presented in this exhibition will change in relation to your presence in the exhibition space, as if listening to your listening. In this way, your participation is more than encouraged—it will, in a sense, be unavoidable.
Alongside this exhibition, we are excited to present a catalog in the form of a 12” record, complete with liner notes from a number of contributing artists—a series of textual reflections on where trace sits in relation to their work.
Karl Leisky is a musician, writer and visual artist. Matutine is comprised of a series of short recordings sampled from sets performed throughout 2017. These fragments were then fed through a set of randomisers which, harking back to the chance operations of Cage, or the serial strategies which inspired them, manipulate the material to a point inaccessible by way of what Leisky describes as “direct human-input based methods”. Here we find traces of intentionality, obliterated by chance-based, algorithmic modification.
Sam Longmore is an artist and writer based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Untitled (Blue Oyster), embraces the minimalist connotations of trace in a twisting of composer Erik Satie’s conception of Furniture Music (properly: music for the background, that you can live alongside like furniture). Longmore takes advantage of the surprisingly resonant nature of gallery's materials, sonifying a single floorboard with an array of contact speakers and microphone resulting in audible feedback. The tone of this soft signal is supple; to can be affected by physical contact with the board as well as the ambient vibrations passing though the space. The work's sensitivity allows it to be ‘played’, while also evolving slowly in relation to external sounds and atmospheric changes that ever-so-slightly affect the dimensions and density of the board—tracing a sonic record of these events and interventions over the course of the exhibition.
Sally Ann McIntyre is a Hobart-born writer, radio and sound artist who lives between Melbourne and Ōtepoti Dunedin. Themed around erasure, the audible trace, extinction, colonial-era collecting, and silence, Twin signals at Silver Stream (a transmission for specimens #50766 & #50767), utilises micro-radius transmission as a form of sonic repatriation. Through radio’s ability to connect across time and distance, the work listens to the silences of colonial-era extinctions present as traces in the landscape of contemporary Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Self-described “outsider composer”, William Henry Meung, works and lives in Ōtepoti Dunedin. His work for this exhibition features a range of materials prepared for the celebration of the winter equinox which takes place each year on the outskirts of Ōtepoti Dunedin. This includes materials from taken from an earlier live performance which were recorded to a vintage cell phone, and then remixed to a 4track cassette. This cassette was then formed the basis of a semi-improvisational session which was re-recorded to a 4track Portastudio tape recorder, and remixed live at the Winter Solstice event.
In addition to the manifestations of past performances, trace emerges here alongside a tinge of sadness: after many years of prolific performance and self published releases, “this material is the last trace of music I made before succumbing to a period of ill health that included a serious ear infection which has resulted in a spell of deafness.”
Charlotte Parallel is an Ōtepoti Dunedin-based artist and events facilitator. In Coil to Coil, two sets of salvaged speaker are removed from their enclosures and arranged in towers, cone-to-cone and magnet-to-magnet. The wiring of one of these sets has been inverted, effectively transforming the objects from a speakers into microphones. By stacking these modified, 'microphone' speakers atop, the conventionally wired 'speaker' speakers in such a way, a sonic feedback system emerges. This system is akin to that between an electric guitar and amplifier at high volume, and emerges as a result of the proximity of the 'input' speakers to the 'output' speakers.
In addition to this sonic system, a system of electromagnetic feedback is audible, as each modified speaker is also sensitive to electromagnetic field created by the stacks. The electromagnetic field and feedback system is itself is excited by the sonic system, and so we find a folded, doubled set of systems, each informing the other in a self-sustaining cycle.
Leben Young is an artist, musician and film maker based in Ōtepoti Dunedin. Young's response to the notion of trace is processual and direct. In his recording, debris accumulated at the premises of None Gallery (a long running artist space, occupied by musicians and visual artists for over 10 years) are sounded and recorded. These recorded sounds are then manipulated in an iterative process, using playback machines gleaned from the piles of objects also left behind by past inhabitants.
This recorded work can be considered the product (or trace) of the many personal traces remaining from past None Gallery residents—an elegant series drawing form the rich audiovisual history of that particular place.