Gone with the Wind - Exhibition text

Gone with the Wind is an exhibition of sound art which brings together three of its pioneers: Max Eastley, Takehisa Kosugi and Walter Marchetti. Each has developed a distinct and idiosyncratic approach to the problem of representing and framing immateriality, with a lightness of touch indicating understatement and restraint. All three share an ergonomic sense of proportion in relation to audience, and a willingness to wait patiently for sound to emerge, or not. Gone with the Wind may therefore be understood as an exhibition about fidelity. While the sounds and installations in the exhibition describe events perceived fitfully and fugitively, history is materialised in a fragmentary and cryptic fashion, through selections by each artist of archival material.

 

History is an unresolved matter for these artists. Whilst Marchetti collaborated with John Cage, he has striven to extricate himseld from what he terms 'Cage's cage', confronting the anxiety of influence with self-effacement. Kosugi's work was adopted by, and itseld informed Fluxus, but his concerns range far beyond that particular moment, and the extent of his artistic profligacy is still largely overlooked in the West. Eastley meanwhile offers a wider perspective on Romanticism and Postmodernism, and strikes a valedictory note in relation to a past which threatens to overwhelm us.

 

Radio is immaterial, polymorphous, detached and pervasive. Alongside the artists' work, the exhibition hosts Resonance104.4fm as a constant event. Resonance in turn is presenting the 'Resonance Open', an overhung sound installation with contributions solicited from local and international artists. The installation expands and alters over the course of the exhibition, testing the relationship between object and event, which is the crux of Gone with the Wind.

 

 

RESONANCE104.40FM

 

Ground Floor

Shopfront Gallery

 

Third Floor

 

Resonance was instigated and produced by Ed Baxter and Phil England of London Musicians' Collective in 1998 as part of John Peel's Meltdown at the Southbank Centre, where it took the form of a month-long 'art gallery of the airwaves'. In 2002 it was launched full-time as a community radio station, broadcasting in central London with a remit to address artistic practice in the broadest possible terms. A long-form piece of polymorphous audio art, and a virtual arts centre and laboratory, Resonance draws on a pool of several hundred contributors, aged between fifteen and eighty, to realise its schedule. Resonance broadcasts live from Raven Row while Gone with the Wind is open, with three daily programme strands comprising archival pieces, the presentation of new sound-art and radiophonic works, and live discussion.

 

On the top floor of Raven Row, the 'Resonance Open' is a group installation, seeking to integrate the work of younger artists and that of their peers (there is a prize for the best student work) while expounding on the possibilities of cacophony, interruption and overload. It confronts the knotty problem of exhibiting sound art, by positively embracing inteference and porosity.

 

Resonance104.4fm is programmed and produced by Ed Baxter, Tom Besley, Richard Thomas and Chris Weaver. It can be heard on 104.4 FM in central London and is streamed globally via http://resonancefm.com. It broadcasts from Raven Row, Wednesday to Sunday, 12am to 5pm.

 

 

MAX EASTLEY

 

Ground Floor

Entrance & Shopfront Gallery

 

First Floor

 

Max Eastley (b. 1944, UK) abandoned a successful career as a folk singer to study at Hornsey Art School, where from 1969 to 1972 he worked under Dante Leonelli in its Kinetic Art department, which proved formative for his work with sounds objects. In the mid-1970s, meetings with Hugh Davies and David Toop among others, led to collaborations including (with Toop) the 1975 album New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments, produced by Brian Eno. Eastley's work has featured in numerous concerts and gallery exhibitions, including Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery in 2000. He is currently an AHRC senior researcher at Oxford Brookes University, investigating Aeolian phenomena.

 

Eastley's sound sculptures exist quizzically on the border between the natural environment and human intervention, often using wind, water and ice. For Gone with the Wind he has responded to the 18th century interior of Raven Row by deploying an Aeolian harp, a device fashionable in 18th century interiors that carried the sound of the wind through strings framed in a window casement. Eastley will use 21st century technology to harness the sound of Aeolian instruments sited on the gallery's roof, fusing the domestic with the sublime, and invoking a Bergsonian approach to duration, measured in shifting states of consciousness. Eastley's works have been adapted and installed in homage to the 18th century Picturesque, as if they are architecture in a landscape of the interior.

 

David Toop wrote in 2003 about Eastley that he 'was beginning to explore the creation of machines - kinetic sound operatives that could play motor - or weather driven music without human intervention. This was not music as defined within European history, however, since the form was endless, minimalist, modulating only in subtle details rather than complex harmonic progressions. There were links with the classical music of India or Indonesia, or the musical automata of Europe, but perhaps the most significant aspect of this sound art was its relationship to landscape'.

 

 

TAKEHISA KOSUGI

 

Ground Floor

Centre & Back Galleries

 

Takehisa Kosugi (b. 1938, Japan) studied at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music where in 1960 he co-founded musical improvisation collective: Group ONGAKU. In the early 1960s his event pieces were realised by Fluxus in Europe and the USA. Between 1965 and 1967 he lived in New York where he developed mixed-media works (which included the expanded cinema masterpiece Film & Film #4 in 1965), performing with Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman and other Fluxus artists. After his return to Japan in 1969, Kosugi co-founded Taj Mahal Travellers, a group dedicated to mixed-media music. Since 1977 Takehisa Kosugi has been a composer/performer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, becoming its Music Director in 1995.

 

As well as providing an overview of his wide-ranging artistic practice over the last fifty years, Gone with the Wind features two sound installations which exemplify how Kosugi's work calmly observes indeterminacy. Key to Kosugi's practice is the phenomenon of heterodyning: using beat frequencies produced between two inaudible radio frequencies. This phantom aural phenomenon can insinuate itself gradually and tranformatively into an environment, suggesting a porosity of both event and perception.

 

GROUP ONGAKU

Group ONGAKU - founded mostly by students at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music - was Japan's first musical improvisation collecitve. Its members were Takehisa Kosugi, Shukou Mizuno, Chieko (Mieko) Shiomi, Mikio Tojima, Genichi Tsuge, and Yasunao Tone. The group began their activities in 1958, when Mizuno and Kosugi improvised together, playing a cello and a violin in a university classroom, and continued until around 1962. Group ONGAKU attempted to create acoustics corresponding to actual time and space. Although methodologically different, their music shared characteristics with contemporaries such as John Cage, and artists and composers associated with Fluxus. Their experimental approach included a performance in which each player spontaneously responded to miscellaneous non-musical sounds extracted from everyday objects. After their first recital in 1961, members began to take their own directions.

 

TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS

Taj Mahal Travellers was founded spontaneously in December 1969, and continued its activities until around 1976. Members of the group came from diverse backgrounds: Michiro Kimura was a graphic designer, Ryo Koike a filmmaker, Kosugi was active in contemporary music and art, while Yukio Tsuchiya was a record producer. Seiji Nagai and Tokio Hasegawa were 'New Jazz' musicians, and Kinji Hayashi was an electronics engineer. Taj Mahal Travellers uniquely combined Eastern an Western, non-musical instruments, electronics and chanting. They became known for their unscripted collective improvisations, sometimes lasting several hours. The group were invited to participate in the exhibition Utopia & Visions 1871-1981 at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1971, where they performed inside a geodesic dome. Afterwards the group toured through Europe. In April 1972, Koike, Kosugi and Tsuchiya boarded a Volkswagen bus, and travelled from Rotterdam to the Taj Mahal in India.

 

 

WALTER MARCHETTI

 

Second Floor

 

Largely self-taught as a musician, Walter Marchetti (b. 1931, Italy) studied composition with modernist composer Bruno Maderna. But it was his friendships with Juan Hidalgo, David Tudor and John Cage - whom he met at Darmstadt in 1958 and notably collaborated on 1978's Il treno di John Cage - which shaped the direction of his music.

 

In Madrid in 1964, Marchetti formed the group/movement ZAJ with Hidalgo, involving a floating pool of artists including José Luis Castillejo and Esther Ferrer. With the stated aim of making music visible, its idiosyncratic form of action-music was a singular and mosly ignored underground phenomenon in Franco's Spain. ZAJ pitched the art of the individual against 'the dictatorship of culture', leading to a practice critically interrogative of the avant-garde, seeking above all to privilege authentic experience. A spirit of anti-determinist anti-rationality instilled their work and Marchetti's solo projects thereafter. Marchetti's work is unclassifiable and anarchic, elegantly recalcitrant and iconoclastic.

 

Marchetti is principally represented in Gone with the Wind by two examples of his subversive chamber music series Musica da camera, which strive simultaneously to marry and mutually cancel the domestic and the monumental. These works are not so much visual art, as a production of music without sound. Work in the exhibition from the ZAJ period comprises typographically bold invitations to public enactments of abandon, and other mailings made in the spirit of Fluxus. Photographs record several ZAJ performances made in Milan in 1975. The large cloth works are a collaboration with entrepreneurial collector Francesco Conz from the 1980s, drawing on Marchetti's earlier cards and mailings. Later works are more introspective, sometimes suggesting near exhaustion - the score of De musicorum infelicitate (2002) was realised in a mood of violent introspection with a sharp pencil over the course of a month. 'Sounds, in my music' Marchetti has written, 'are the very last thing: non-essential and empty'. His art exists at a mordant end point of Modernism - melancholic, humorous, expansive and perverse.