(In a Forest of Signs)

4.1 Introduction to the interventions

We’re seeing, in the form of the object, the potential our body holds to walk around, take another look, extend a hand and touch. The form of the object is the way a whole set of active, embodied potentials appear in present experience: how vision can relay into kinaesthesia or the sense of movement, how kinaesthesia can relay into touch. The potential we see in the object is a way our body has of being able to relate to the part of the world it happens to find itself in at this particular life's moment. What we abstractly see when we directly and immediately see an object is lived relation – a life dynamic.

(Massumi, p.42, 2011)

Given both the open-ended and abstract nature of the score and its socio-political underpinning, it seemed both possible – and pertinent – to apply the movements it invoked to the social structures of its dissemination.  By using the score to elicit interventions within rather than performances to its community, I was able to create artistic constructs that could interrogate, inform, and critique that community.  The first intervention, what would later become 30 Gold Coins,[1] involved calculating the total cost of putting on a performance - rehearsal spaces, transport, promotion, equipment - and then handing out that amount, in single pound coins, to an audience, while an extended drone played over speakers.  Given that the idea was to critique time, (art) work, and its perceived value to the community, this soon evolved into a more defined action, in which 30 pound coins - the largest amount of money I could personally afford to lose in a single performance – was theatrically laid upon the floor of a public space, again framed by a unifying tone.  With the actual musical output consisting of no more than a short list of frequencies and waveshapes, the work’s score instead prioritised the more resonant qualities of shape (timbre, the circle of coins, the layout of speakers) and theme (work, value, autonomy).  In the latter instance, I opted to avoid merely describing my own socio-political position as ‘the artist’, in favour of texts plundered from the security manuals of warehouses and associated newspaper reports, so as to allow the director of any new iteration to explore their own thoughts and reflections as a means of fleshing out the skeleton of my original composition.

In this, as with all the interventions, my goal was not to foster a perfectly accurate recreation of a performance, but to provide creative impetus for new work around a common theme.  Similarly, the sounds, materials, and actions invoked are not presented as free-standing objects to be passively spectated by their audience – assuming such a thing were even possible - but to demonstrate the fallacy of the active/passive distinction.  By focusing on the resonant overlaps between such objects, as well as the context under which they are perceived and the unique social, temporal or cognitive position of those who perceive them, the hope is that the interventions will provide a means for the individual to self-reflect upon their standing in the community they inhabit.  In devising such works, I sought not to present ‘my’ artistry to an external or delineated community of Other, but to use the art-object as a medium for engaging the unknown and unpredictable Other that is community on the level of their own innate creativity.  As with my movements across the synthesiser, or through the collaborative space of the church, the artistic act is a means by which the community can explore its own expression, morality, and contour.  Indeed, this is a point I was keen to make within all of the project’s iterations – art, as an event, captivates rather than creates the objects of experience, serving as a way of highlighting our multi-layered and concurrent relation to both the thing-itself, our own being, and our expression of that which is perceived.  Rather than operating in a linear fashion, art demonstrates the sender’s habit of not only pointing towards a message/object, but also a broad relational socio-historic context, bridging perception and communication by instigating feedback within the system of comprehension. 

[1] Appendix E : Precursory works, 30 Gold Coins early incarnation (usb).
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