Artistic Research

Body, Objects and Materials 
with Dani Landau, Spike Island Artspace,  Bristol September 2016

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Creative documentation by Dani Landau.

Sonic Experiments and Movement Research  
with sound artist Shirley Pegna.
Residency, The Island Gallery,  Bristol October 2017 

1.  We have been looking at the body as expressive material diving below the surface tuning into and recording sound emanating from the body, the respiratory, digestive systems, soft tissue and heartbeat.

Made the equipment, thought of the different body sounds to amplify. We played some sound for Brenda to work with on the floor.
 The strongest reaction for her was to the sound if the regular lungs breathing. This sound quickly had an abstract feel to it i.e. took the listener away from the context of the breathing person to other particularly as it was so regular and almost mechanical. Are they ‘sonic tissue properties’??

  2. We are recording and playing with sound sourced from various objects and material via a range of actions.

We discussed what the relationship was to the objects chosen their sound and the body and it’s movement. The objects: broom, thin plastic, bucket, electric cable, thicker plastic, and pliers. 
We explored in physical movement – those relationships looking at touching and not touching them. This was a very pivotal aspect of the relationship and portrayal of ‘The State Of Things’ to return to the working title, and marked an important place for going forward with the movement in that it linked to both the more external way of working with objects on the floor and the internal way of creating movement with the objects. This then could be in the same work rather than two different way of working.  
 The idea of being on the verge of slapstick – going towards having the audience thinking in this way and how not to enter in to it (splapstick) and how that would engage with the onlooker, how it naturally occurred with objects and how it might be desirable or not.
The idea that sound takes on an abstract quality was interesting and useful.
 ‘Paper – life outside of the paper manipulating.’
The working sounds to use from these recorded sounds were textural i.e. the continuous sound for the broom bristles and the continuous sound of the paper being scrunched and twisted slowly. 
‘Fibrous of body and of nature.’

 3. Drawing on pre existing low frequency / vibration sound recordings Shirley has made of external urban and rural environments.

We used sounds recorded underneath the ground and explored the way it effected the movement and the feelings it engendered. 
We discussed that fact that the sounds had a context and they could also heard as abstract. Low frequency and vibration played into the walls and rattled objects at times. It also played a part in the interpretation of the movement in so far as the vibrations did vibrate directly in the body connecting the room the body and the connecting sound waves.
‘Dark underbelly of..…. Unconscious .. What lies below’ 

Brenda Waite and Shirley Pegna


Arnolfini and The Island Gallery 2017

with sound artist/ performer Robin Foster. 
Screen shots: Dani Landau

In this Residency period I am continuing my investigations into the materiality of the body and objects within a performative context.  Looking at connections between felt and imaginative states and an outer sensory terrain, seeking an understanding of our surroundings through this exchange.   
Related topics of interest are habitat and adaption in a rapidly changing environment. 
My collaborators on this project are sound artists Robin Foster,  Shirley Pegna and filmmaker Dani Landau.   

 I spent the initial two days of the  Arnolfini residency working with sound artist Robin Foster.  This is a first time collaboration with Robin and an opportunity to explore the common ground of our improvisational performance work with objects, materials and physicality.  

  Day 1.  Dark studio.  
We jumped straight into an improvising with our materials,  working within our key roles, sound/ movement, tuning in and progressively sliding between roles and activities.  Although we have very different ways of inhabiting and moving in space we share something of an embodied musicality and found an immediate connection through play with timing.  Our process on this first day was more about flow with the material and each other, some focus on energetic states.  The dark studio offered an intensity and immersive environment of tactile and sound textures, a day of harvesting and digesting. 

We spent some time speaking about, clarifying our individual practises and interests. Some words about this 

Robin -  My performance work is mostly concerned with the physicality of noise.  As a sound-artist, I have always been interested in exploring the inherent musicality of objects, and perhaps as a reaction to the prevalence of computer-based performance in live music, or perhaps due to my musical training as a drummer, this has always manifested itself in a high-energy performance style where I am the ‘agitator’, and through the use of my body I excite the objects into revealing their musical potential. 
I tend to think of this energy as the central parameter in my music - the movement is inexorably linked to the resultant sound. 

 Brenda -  As a visual theatre/ dance practitioner my interest lies in the interplay between movement and image, finding form and meaning in the emerging content.  I am intrigued by the physical presence of objects in space, how they might travel, come to rest,  find each other disrupt, collide combine and so on.  
How an intension and impetus can be transferred into the objects or a permission given so that they might reveal something of their internal force, agency.    As an improvisor I am committed to working with the unfamiliar and within this context I am seeking a physical dialogue with the objects and materials, a process of connection and feedback.  

Day 2. Light Studio
While the dark studio gave clarity and emphasis to our sound material the light studio invited and accentuated the visual and spatial elements of the work. We began with an investigative warm up connecting through the body layers of skin, soft tissue and bone to facilitate a more dimensional sensing of space.   As our playing space expanded questions were raised around relationship and our interpretation of the duet form.  Over the day we experimented with extending the duration of our improvisations, occupying the space in different modes/states. One of my favourite elements of this work is the manifestation of the image in the aftermath of the event.  Materials that have combined and transformed through our physical interrogations, the echo of the activity and suggested narratives.   

Final thoughts.
Robin - Before working with Brenda, I had never really actively considered the role my body played other than the method for transferring energy to my instruments or sound objects. I was aware that my body as the exciter was required in the performance, but I had merely let it follow my hands without much thought to the movement itself. Working with Brenda has given me a much greater appreciation of the bigger picture, of how my body is as much a part of the performance as the instruments or objects I use. 

Brenda - Over the two days working with Robin I found myself becoming more attuned to the complexity of the sounds generated and the possibility of a deeper and more finely tuned responsiveness with my movement. Throughout I was drawn to working in proximity, in the heat of the action in this dynamic and often turbulent space.  I enjoyed the immediacy and adventurousness of our collaboration and the challenge of working in a porous, receptive state open to the impact of sound, knocked into the present.  

Brenda Waite

MERGE / Deconstructing the Drum Kit
Performance with Robin Foster at the Brunswick Club
Hosted by Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film . January 2018

MERGE is a collaborative performance by Brenda Waite and Robin Foster who join forces to generate a high-nrg, improvised performance - a collision of objects, sound and bodies in a constantly transforming landscape. They will be joined by  BEEF guest artists.