Soundings: with Wellcome Library & Hubbub at Wellcome Collection - 2015 / 2016
Soundings is a series of collaborative sound poetry and sonic art performances held in seven different venues in the city of London.
Each edition of Soundings begins with Wellcome librarians suggesting images, manuscripts and books from the Library’s collections in response to a title initiated by Hubbub curators. These sources form the basis of a theme, or are responded to, in each of the collaborative public performances.
Soundings have been documented brilliantly by Ed Prosser, and a selection of these videos were exhibited at Rest & its discontents: 30 September – 30 October 2016, The Mile End Art Pavilion, London E3
- October 7th 2016 - Kings Place: collaborating with Phil Minton
- July 29th 2016 - Wormwood Scrubs: collaborating with Sharon Gal
- May 12th 2016 - Wellcome Collection green room: collaborating with Patrick Coyle
- March 18th 2016 - Wellcome Library: collaborating with Tamarin Norwood
- November 18th 2015 - St Johns on Bethnal Green: collaborating with Maja Jantar
- September 4th 2015 - Wellcome Collection Late: collaborating with Dylan Nyoukis
- August 15th 2015 - Camley Street Natural Park: collaborating with Emma Bennett
Soundings #7: Phil Minton - Kings Place, London
An amazing privilege to perform an improvised sound poetry piece with the legendary Phil Minton on October Friday 7th 2016 at Kings Place, London. For over fifty years Phil Minton has been performing, singing, vocalising around the world. He absolutely has shaped, even defined, free vocalisation and improvised sound poetry since WWII. To get to work with him for the first time, with no prior preparation, no conversation about what we'd do before the performance even, was such an honour, and beautiful / terrifying in equal measure. So important for me to feel I'm crossing over with the greats of previous generations. This was a real landmark for me. A great night overall too, closing out the Hubbub residency in a sense, with some fine work from James Wilkes, Emma Bennett, Phaedra ensemble and others making it a varied and intense evening of performance. A perfect way to finish Soundings.
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.
Soundings #4 with Tamarin Norwood (Wellcome Library)
The next instalment of the Soundings project, this time in Wellcome Library itself, with the brilliant Tamarin Norwood. The piece was fashioned just for the camera itself, a closed performance, intended to respond to and interrogate the notion of film editing or performance video, and how it relates to notions of authenticity and naturalness, while all the while following the process central to Soundings, that we respond to Wellcome Library resources provided to us by the librarians and 'sound them out' in conversing. Thanks to Ed Prosser for his brilliant camera work too. www.stevenjfowler.com/soundings
Soundings #3: 'in a silent way' with Maja Jantar (St John on Bethnal Green)
A great privilege to continue my project with Hubbub exploring sound art and the city, this time with Maja Jantar, incomparable and brilliant, someone I'm proud to call a friend and whose work has influenced my own since I met her in a Parisien circus a few years ago. We collaborated in the amazing environs of St Johns on Bethnal Green, an austere, acoustically remarkable church on the busy crossroads of East London. It's got a great reputation for sound art and experimental music and Maja and I presented our brand new work, that covered song, body, performance, shamanism, animism, again responding to prompts from the Wellcome Library staff, themselves responding to concepts given by Hubbub curators
The Material Prompts from the Wellcome Library for In a Silent Way
So exciting to be part of the Wellcome Collection's late, all Hubbub themed, on September 4th. And to be collaborating with the great Dylan Nyoukis. http://wellcomecollection.org/events/friday-late-spectacular-hubbub This was a privilege as expected, Dylan and I had two sets over the evening, which was a huge success for Hubbub, the Wellcome Collection packed with people. We deliberately worked off an improvised methodology, and the exchanges became increasingly maddened and emotive, a kind of live kitchen-sink-boiler-drama-therapeutic-soup-opera on the bounds of language. People didn't know quite what to think and such was the wonder.
The Material Prompts from the Wellcome Library for Enforced Rest
Soundings #1 - Restless Cities with Emma Bennett (Camley Street Natural Park)
Date: 18 August 2015 /Time: 1pm – 2pm
Location: Camley Street Natural Park, 12 Camley Street, London N1C 4PW
Preparation (July 29th): Great to be working with longtime collaborator Emma Bennett on the very first edition of the Soundings series, new collaborative performances that respond to prompts by the Wellcome Library and materials they offer in response to themes given by Hubbub curators. The performances are all each about the city of London and space and the sound environment too, and it's a wonderful thing to begin such explorations in such a beautiful and unique environment like Camley Street Natural Park. Sat right on the canal, and positioned just behind Kings Cross station, it is an oasis of green in the middle of regenerating urban London. http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/reserves/camley-street-natural-park
The performance will take place on August Tuesday 18th 1.15pm – 1.45pm and Emma and I have developed a performance which will both intensely responsive to the park itself, it's layout and character and content, as well as the materials, which struck us as in someway about un-restfulness and how the city space might create / mediate that, and how perhaps, in our time, this unrest is internalised and turned into often esoteric and problematic discussions of concepts like mindfulness and self-awareness.
Soundings #1 - After the performance: August 19th 2015
The beginning of Soundings couldn't have gone better. Not only because the performance was unique and well attended and went to plan, but because it was also completely idiosyncratic and unexpected for the audience, and enjoyable. Emma and I have known each for a few year now, and been in collective work together, but never performed a duo. The performance itself and the entire preparation period could not have been easier and more fluid. We met up numerous times to make our performance not only responsive to the materials given by the Wellcome Library under the theme of 'Restless Cities' but also to make sure we responded very specifically to the amazing environmental of Camley Street Natural Park.
We knew people's experience of what we did would be defined by the surroundings, and decided in fact to put on a walking tour, one that fused elements of performance and immersive theatre all rooted in something like a slightly alternative version of the contemporary 'landscape' 'cityscape' 'mindfulness' lexicon. Our performance was a mix of improvisation, preparation for this and written text that lay somewhere between poetry and satire.
In the end we had a remarkable audience, those very generously helping us, Harriet Martin, James Wilkes, Kim Staines, bringing together lots of people so that it felt quite a significant event, marching 50 or so people around the small stone clearings and ponds of the park. A strange experience for them, I hope, a great experience for us.