A note on: filming Soundings #6 with Sharon Gal

The Soundings project comes to an end for the time being this October with the 7th instalment and the end of the Hubbub residency and I've had an extraordinary time collaborating with 6 artists so far, the latest being Sharon Gal, a major figure on the London experimental music scene since the late 80s. Sharon's work has been a real influence on me, so it was brilliant to work so closely with her developing a series of performances, embedded in some unusual and industrial / suburban hidden spots of west london, for film. Again working with Ed Prosser, who has filmed most of soundings to great effect, we spent a brilliant day roaming from Kilburn to Kensal, along the grand union canal and into wormwood scrubs, playing with soundscapes, found sounds and instruments. We utilised the possibilities of film, performing in scenes of a sort, to create something original in the edit. Such a privilege to have this opportunity, and once again responding to materials given by Wellcome Library in response to prompts given by Hubbub curators.

landscape architecture residency is going to be amazing

http://www.jlg-london.com/ So proud my residency at the continually inspiring J&L Gibbons landscape archiectects is really growing and taking shape. The work they are doing, and are about to do, is as cutting edge and important and dynamic as I couldve imagined, and Im really privileged to be involved. Do check out their website. 
"Welcome to a group of inspired, energetic and committed landscape architects. For over twenty five years, we have been working with local authorities, developers and community groups to vision and realise beautifully designed “green infrastructure”. We’d like to introduce you to some of our award winning work, and announce that throughout 2014 we will be collaborating with Steven J Fowler, poet in residence at J & L Gibbons."

In 2014, a residency at J & L Gibbons, award winning Landscape Architecture & Urban Design practice

http://www.jlg-london.com/ In the current moment, the space a poet inhabits is without responsibility. That is in language, and whether or not the poet's response to their language world is powerful or flippant, derisive or optimistic, it is all predicated on a space of engagement with the reader which is entirely voluntary, & all the better for that. All the more room for me to seek out alternative spaces, to attach my practice, parasitically, to those creative few who inhabit the alternative, where they are tasked with shaping an environment where people have no choice but to be. A physical space that requires more than physical reckoning. A profound and humbling challenge it must be, to be faced with the responsibility of shaping space that people will inhabit, to need to be both wholly functional and eminently creative. To be mindful for the everyday in people's lives. So I'm beginning a residency with the remarkable landscape architects J &L Gibbons, and hope somehow, over the next year, to respond to their responsiveness, to somehow reflect the necessary complexity of their work, and the inspiring sensitivity and ethics they embody in their work.

We are all collectively responsible for our space, but there are those of us whose expertise puts them into moments of decision, in real three-dimensional praxis, and whose stake may not be immediate after they have left those environments but whose trace is essential to the feeling and experience of that place. In the urban context, where all, at some point, has been planned or shaped, even if accidentally, by the hands of money, so their role is a fascinating blend of immense power and fundamental invisibility, for the people who will use that space at least, once the architects are gone. This paradox is what attracts me so much to the work of J&L Gibbons and a progressive notion of landscape architecture. For I am, I must admit, quite frequently, unaware of the process of landscape, while being painfully aware of the evolution and environment of language in that very same space. So I believe this residency can be a symbiotic engagement on my part, learning to be mindful of this environmental evolution of the city, especially am ancient city like London, to see with new eyes through the work of Johanna Gibbons and Neil Davidson and their colleagues the changing of environments while tacitly recordings, archiving and reflecting on the language of that process, those spaces and the culture of its happening. 

Like every profession or possession, familiarity breeds diminishing returns in the practitioners understanding of their own responsibility. The grind of unmediated human behaviour undoubtedly leads those who shape our environment to suffer the same prosaic reckoning as any other profession, just as a poet will write the same way for 40 years because he has found some recognition, so the unrewardable complexity of subtle, liminal, 'humane' approaches to the shaping of an environment seems a rare quality that would require great awareness, humility, passion, mindfulness and  ethical self-interrogation. This is my meagre understanding is what defines the work of J & L Gibbons. In fact if I am now able to recognise different fundamental modes of landscape architecture, it is because of my being exposed to their extraordinary work. I had the privilege to speak in person with Johanna Gibbons and Neil Davidson at length about their work, where they fleshed out the content of this talk http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/grounds-for-optimism-designing-resilient-landscapes-in-london and (perhaps accidentally) exposed me to their remarkable humour, care, sensitivity and engagement with the very root of what they are doing. It so exciting to be in the presence of people at the height of their profession who have never allowed themselves to become lost in the necessary minutia of their task at the expense of the human experience, for all the complexity of that, that underrides their decisions.

I shan't now bring up individual examples of their working history, or their remarkable client list (though its worth looking it up http://www.jlg-london.com as it is all a matter of public record) as I want to save much of it for my work with them over the next year. Suffice to say, in beginning this residency, I am preparing myself for writing that brings with it a responsibility, and that is what I am seeking. Environments are shaped by language as much as anything else, though it hard to reckon, and over the next year I intend to improve my understanding of language in space, in the fundamental shaping of people's living space, and I hope, primarily to permanently refocus my own ability to perceive 3 dimensions and the human presence within then. I am in fine company to do so.