Just returned from Audiograft Festival in Oxford – had a great time, and saw and heard some wonderful gigs and installations. I installed Piano Migrations in the brand new Glass Tank Gallery at Oxford Brookes University, and then I got to stay for the whole festival… On the last night, myself and Sabine Vogel performed as our audio-visual duo Ornis, Sabine on flutes, electronics and field recordings, and myself creating ephemeral projections onto melting screens of ice. We made a 30 minute piece inspired by our recent performance in an empty swimming pool. This work reflects our concerns with the world’s drinking water supplies, and we invite the audience to contemplate melting ice, torrential storms and the polar extremes of the absence or abundance of water.
Photos by Pier Corona.
Other Audiograft highlights included Ray Lee’s Chorus – a mesmerising shifting sound installation of whirling speakers on large tripods, the tones and spinning speeds shifting to create a captivating composition. Thursday night treated us to meditative concert at the Holywell Music Room featuring the Set Ensemble playing James Tenney’s swell pieces, which finely tuned my attention so I was able to focus on the most subtle and intricate variations in dynamics, a rich and oscillating drone piece for fishing wires resonating piano strings by Phill Niblock and a contrasting and brilliant nod to fluxus from Austin Sherlaw-Johnson performing his work ‘Explicit Actions’ which consisted of six 2 minute actions, performed in a totally convincing, attention grabbing way – including taping 2 electronic keyboards to a table, throwing forks at a cooker shelf, holding a chair in the air and concluding with ‘two minutes of nothing happening’. These seemingly trivial actions were all announced using the most economical phrasing before being carried out in a deadpan fashion. It was Austin’s complete conviction in seeing each action through with absolute dedication which made the work such a joy to experience. The concert concluded with John Tilbury performing piano with a Samuel Becket text, followed by a poem by Ken Edwards, the latter speaking about the piano as if it is a living body, hopping between physical, material descriptions to envoking feelings and sensations concerned with making sounds.