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— I was gonna talk about a time that I overheard something I, I shouldn’t’ve. And, er, it was really awful.
Um, it wasn’t that long ago. And, er, I was in a, a kind of, ah, conference, and I was in a, a room that was to the side of where that was kind of happening. And, er, went to get a cup of tea and sat down, I was reading my book during the interval, and two people came in who were kind of acquaintances but not, but not friends. And, er, I kind of just assumed that they knew I was there, cos it wasn’t a huge room but it was, I was slightly tucked round the corner? It was kind of in two parts. And, er, I kind of, I kind of thought, “Yeah, they must know I’m here,” and, er, made a couple of kind of scratchy noises with my pen, to kind of just make, make them aware [clears throat]. And the conversation they were having kind of got more and more personal, and in depth, erm, and the thing was, the worse, the kind of, the more personal it got, the more awkward it became to make my presence known. But I thought, I was kind of trapped, and I thought, “I can’t, I can’t leave. So, the more I hear, the worse it’s gonna be.” Um, so it was this kind of horrible vicious cycle. And, er, I kept on trying to make more noise, to kind of make them, make them aware and they just didn’t seem to kind of pick up on it. And, er, eventually I just stood up and kind of had to say, erm, “Just, just to let you know, I’m, er, I’m here, you know.” And, er, and it was, it was awful because it’s never really been the same with, [laughing] with either of them ever since! And I think they think that I’m a real snoop. But I wasn’t hiding, it was just… it was, oh, it was really bad, though. Awful.
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— So, the… mm, the thing I was, um, thinking about was actually… well, we invited f-, for… a project we did here we invited several people. [Clears throat.] And had them… er, yeah, basically, had them here and have a loose talk, on… whatever, er, they were doing or they were interested in. And then, um, there was this one guy, who, ah, came here and, he arrived, I think he arrived the day before the… talk or discussion, or this, however you want to call this thing. We, um, did then, and, um, I met him briefly in the, in the evening and we were just, like, saying hello and, and getting to know each other a little, and then, um, on the, um, the day the… yeah, the talk was, er, happening we were sitting, um, like, cos-, cosily in the, in our… back office. And, er, he was giving… he was not giving the presentation, he was rather, like it was loosely talking about what he was interested in, and what he was doing, and what they as an institution were doing, and their history and, like, giving some sort of general introduction, for – because we were the, like, the, the committee and, um… like, public people, we just, we ve-, we invited or who just came to get to know about the thing came by, and, um… yeah……so I dunno, we, we talked, we discussed and we talked for several, like, I don’t know, 20, 30 minutes or something and, er, then… as I f-, I would say, like, often happens, there’s the, like, the pauses between, er, questions and the talker, and like, the… the, the… the time someone is talking got longer and longer. And, um… [shrugs] I f-, I dunno, I would say, like, after a time there was, like,
everyone had maybe to think about what he was saying, how each one was related to this. But there was, like, really, I would say there was like, three or four minutes of silence. And this get, longer and longer, and, um, he… he was not, er, he was not the type of guy who was just, presenting and presenting and presenting and giving something, but he was rather like, saying something, and like… I have, not just, I mean… going into it, and, and explaining, blah blah blah. And then, but then it was, ok, then, it was, like, good for him, and if there was no one who asked something, or who wanted to comment on anything, then it was just silence. And that s-, that was, um… Then, like, after, after, the longer the silence, er, lasted, like, the classical thing started to — cue people moving, or, or like [clears throat], and just, like, till the moment, like, this… like, every move is noticed [laughs], so to say. And I suppose it’s getting more and more, obvious that, like, okay there’s… we have a problem of conversation, maybe! Um… and… like I say, he wasn’t, he wasn’t the guy, the type of guy who was just, talking, talking, right, but I don’t, I don’t think he… provoked this, this silence thing, but it was clearly that… er, it was there and everyone knew it. You could, could feel it and, um… [Shrugs.] That was – I mean, this is, like, er… yeah, this opens lots of, um… I don’t know, questions or… or things to, to, to say about this. And, um, as the… the, the, the idea of the whole format was also not to have, um… like, have clear, distinct subjects on which to talk, and clear settings, er… in, in which these talks should have taken place, of course it feels like
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this, a part of it, in a way. And, and… the, the idea wasn’t to have, to have like the silence or the things but, it was exactly this thing like that, like, um… especially when there is a p-, pu-, more or less, er… mostly, um… like, strangers, from the m-, from the public just come in there, who are not used to, we are not friends or, we don’t know each other ve-, very well. Mm. And these, these, er, and it’s like, felt like a break or some sort of… problem. And I think this, this, this, er… the feeling… [shrugs.] I felt like it was getting a problem, sort of – no t, not necessarily for me [laughs], but, um, yep. It’s this moment when you don’t know what to do, what to say, no one, everything you, you do is like… noticed, you get… you’re like, you’re the person who is now… Maybe, you think you’re the person who once has to say something, or, who’s helping us, out of this fix, to say?
— I was thinking about, er, different situations but one, erm, maybe I start with one. It was like on the aeroplane, that’s maybe a very common place where you hear a lot of people that you don’t understand… um… But in that case it was like that I’m, er, were flewing back from the States, where I stayed, like for two years. And, erm, then I — there were some German people in the flight. And it was, erm, it took me a while just, like, to realise that they are speaking German. Um, and that was like, such an amazing situation for me, like to have, like, um, developed, just like through this, mmm, yeah, through this two years just like this… distance, ah, somehow, like… yeah, not… so familiar with the language, to be not so familiar with the language, so it’s get, like abstract. And it was, erm… it was really, erm… very, er, I was, like, really baffled about that. Um, so I could not, could, like, listen to the, erm, the language that I’m actually very familiar with, like in a very abstract way and it was, um… it wa-, it felt, like really, er, like, er… like, um, hard. Like, compared with English it sounds like, really like rough and hard and… pff. So, that was quite an amazing experience… [clears throat.] And anyway, as I gr-, I grew up in Germany without, erm… um, knowing the language, like, just like get through it, through inside this new culture… um, there was a lot of situations like that but I can’t really remember them or recall them just like, um, now. Um, but, erm, I ca-, I can remember that… me and my sister and brother, we are always trying to, like, um… er, catch up with some words
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and like, with some words that we thought they are so funny, they’ve got so funny noises. So we, like, erm, repeated them and we had, like a big laugh about and then, somehow I think we, more or less got also like, over this, to this language, just over the voices and, like, about this, also this kind of abstraction, and a playful way to approach. So… And lately, and that’s maybe, maybe the main, ah, reason why I chose this, erm, question… Erm… I th-, I was recently, erm… speaking so much English, with you and, um, some other people round, erm… um, um, um – and, so less German, actually [laughs], somehow. I don’t know why, there are so many people just like, ah, speak English right now. Um, and, so I’m also, like, if I’m, like, going with my bike through the streets, um, it’s not this automatically thing happens where, okay this person speaks there or something, there is something spoken or, like, there’s a conversation and, somehow, if I, like, pass the person I can just, like, grab some words. It’s somehow, it doesn’t really happen. It’s more like, erm, more like, er, noises again, so. And it’s somehow interesting, how fast something can, like, develop, like, that you get, like, much, er… yeah, it’s, er, like, ah, the language can get abstract.
— So I’m responding to this question about, er, how long… um, I’ve been around with somebody not talking to him? In just one period, maybe? And I think that it, the… longest period I can remember was on, er, kind of on a… hiking trip… and it was actually also in Scotland. And I think we started at, er, Ullapool, or something, like it’s called Ullapool I think… um, it’s on the… west coast, north-west coast of Scotland. And we just, it was a little bit boring time so we just started to get out of this, er, town, village actually, just having no quite a goal or something like this which we, like, just going out, and, er, going into the landscape, somehow. And then it’s, somehow just, er, it, in the beginning we just was talking about something I cannot remember any more, but then, er, it somehow just… maybe also just the talk ran out somehow, it was really like there was nothing more to talk maybe or nobody was interested in, at this moment to talk about anything any longer. And so, er… yeah, and I think it, we meant to be, like, three hours or something? And… oh, maybe it, a little bit longer because it be, like, because also we were in some kind of distance… er, because of, er, different, maybe, speeds of walking or something like this, because we, like, there was also quite a distance because, er, between us – so it was just a friend and me, walking there, and he was also visiting me from Germany so we also were on this strange, er… talking German — so, I was in a strange position to talk to him in German all the time. Before that I was just used to speak English for three months or something, and having no… er, not this… ongoing German.
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I think it was maybe more exhausting for me to talk in this German again, because it was really like this switch around, between the languages somehow… Um, yes… Er… [lights cigarette.] Mm, and what was happening in this period, I think it was more like it was not uncomfortable at all, somehow. Ah, so in the beginning, somehow, because it was really, like, okay, you just have to look around and it was also a little bit cold, it was also maybe quite exhausting to talk and to walk at the same time, or something… And, um… Yeah, then we also passed through a, a… some kind of, there was three houses, or something, just the path was going through this, er, kind of, yeah, small residential area, or something. And, er, there it was quite strange, because then you have this feeling about, okay, here also other people, just, there were just two people crossing the street or something, and this was a little bit strange situation when you are not talking like this. It was, er, yeah, you somehow reminded on the… whatever… lonesome cowboys [laughs] going through a village, or something like this… And I think this was also quite where the moment who, somehow it changed a bit because, er, then I feel somehow, er, quite uncomfortable after a while with the situation being, er… um, somehow seeing myself from the outside, somehow, like this strange guy walking through nature and [laughs] not talking any more, and this was, for myself a little bit too, er… After a while it becomes… in a picture, a little bit too pathetic [laughs] or something like this, not talking – it becomes somehow, like, also between us, maybe from my side it becomes somehow like a play —
who can takes it, er, longer, or something, not to speak, or something like this, and this was, er, quite uncomfortable, somehow. And then, mm, somehow… [lights cigarette.] Hmm, we started to speak again, but I also cannot remember how it started, actually. I think it was also, the, the whole thing is about, maybe, five years ago, or something like this… Mm. But I still can remember nothing, it was quite, er… nice — so nothing was, actually, missing [laughing]… or something like this, in this period.
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— So I worked at this farm, and I hadn’t had, done my driving test yet but I was learning, and, um… I had to go down the field, like, uh, quite far away with water, so I filled the water up and then drove down, and that went all fine and then I drove, I was drive-, driving back and there was this quite awkward turn with two walls… like that, and erm, I came round the corner and just lost control and went straight into the wall… But the Land Rover was kind of the — my boss’s kind of pride and joy so, um, I was really… kind of embarrassed and, erm… upset that I’d bumped it. But then, one of the people I worked with had, had been away so then I was describing them, to them, what I had done. But instead of kind of saying, “Ooh, I crashed the Land Rover,” I went, “Whay! I crashed the Land Rover!” and at that point the boss was at the end of the corridor and just saw the whole thing so it was pretty… embarrassing. And I don’t think he kind of got the, the humour of it … so that was a bit of a miss… yeah… And, he was, he was Dutch and I think there was kind of a little bit of, he didn’t get the subtle – no, well, it wasn’t subtle at all but, I was kind of covering my… embarrassedness from the…
— So, I was about 8, maybe 9, living with my Mum. Me and my brother, my younger brother who was about 6 at the time had just moved in with her, had been living there maybe a few months, and… er, we were living in a flat, owned by, it was erm, in a building owned by Royal Mail. My Mum was a postwoman and she worked in the parcel depot. Er, and the flat was above the depot. And, um… it was called the barracks. Um, I don’t know if it ever was a barracks. There was a little hut outside where some army cadets would… do their thing… of an evening, sometimes, maybe that’s why it was called the barracks. Anyway. Um, so we were living in this flat in the barracks, and, um… my mum used to work, days, which in Royal Mail means you start at about 5 or 6 and then you finish at about midday, about 12 or 1, so on Saturdays she, um… she would be downstairs in the depot so, we would get ourselves up and sort ourselves out, watch a bit of telly, eat some Microchips. And then she would come up at about lunch time… whenever it was. And then one, so one Saturday, we were in the flat, and, um… I noticed this noise, a, a sort of low, persistent buzzing sound. And, we couldn’t place it… we, we didn’t know what it was. We thought there was maybe something, um, something was malfunctioning. Er, we, I think we worked out that it was in the front room. Me and my brother turned the place upside down trying to find where it was coming from, just couldn’t find it. Um, I, I decided that, um… that it, it was, that it was menacing, it was a menacing sound… I think, well, you know, we came to the conclusion that it definitely sounded like something was about to, to explode,
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whoâ€™s helping us out of this fix?
They are not giving anything away. They are seated at a table scattered with the evidence of an afternoon’s conversation so you can assume that there are others present, but you don’t know this yet. A mouth is revealed, someone is talking and gesticulating, a question could be prompting them into volubility - the same question could have been running in circles for hours. A question can draw out the telling of what we already know and if this is the case, then to ask the question is simply to wait for the opportunity to follow the desire lines we have already plotted. Anticipating the response, there isn’t really the chance that we will hear anything other than what we already know. But we are not listening to the resonances of the conversation. Perhaps the character we can’t see asking the questions frames the whole conversation, pinning it down in whatever way they choose to do so. This kind of questioning needs an answer but only as confirmation. To step out of the frame would invite an incoherent, spidery recollection of a response, full of ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ and ‘somehows’ that would stray from what has been asked. A warning; leaving the fray behind us entirely could leave us with a silence too daunting to overcome. Sometimes, the questioner would tell us, you dwell so much on openness that you forget about reciprocity. To ask someone for their codes, obtuse and perverse and mundane, and offer nothing in return? You would deserve the glassy stare and guarded laughs that would greet you. We are in a fix: we need some kind of prompt, an act of listening, and the open awkwardness of silence, but a monologue satisfies nobody.
You could say that each response should have its own ears. This way the characters can balance on the fine line between affirmation and the attempt to communicate something more nebulous. This way social niceties can ease the discomforts interaction brings, just as they stir up new and hideous ones in their wake. With ears the responses are done as they are undone. You can never take back what you have already heard. A perceived shift in tone, or the smudging of the voice with that stray unidentified sound of a whip cracking, and a strange feeling starts to percolate into the room. You are now thinking about what you are doing. Your actions become that of a terrible actor and you are left flailing. You might not recover your composure. Now the room is still enough for the passing car to make its presence felt. There is only the flapping of a curtain and the faint grinding of an axe. Itâ€™s moving down the street. The curtain lifts and falls, it is oblivious to the incoming argument. Sound slips around them, in an imagined argument, staged in multiple languages, the only clue is the face that lets slip the attitudes of both opponents, a dress-rehearsal. On a long walk, the conversation between two friends ebbs. When one of them eventually opens their mouth to speak all that can be heard is the wind blowing leaves through a courtyard. Eventually the recording device has to be turned on the questioners where they begin to squirm, recall and listen, before being absorbed back into the bustle of place.
In 2012 Psykick Dancehall spent October at Lothringer_13 Laden, Munich, at the invitation of Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. Also on the residency were artists Sarah Forrest and Giuseppe Mistretta. The residency was part of an exchange between the two galleries. This edition of D A N C E H A L L documents a series of discussions which took place in Munich. A video, This Fix, will be shown as part of the unsmoothmaking exhibition at Transmission, 15-22 June 2013, and at Lothringer_13 Laden on 29 June 2013. June 2013 will also see the launch of the publication unsmoothmaking, a collection of spoken-word performances collaboratively produced by Psykick Dancehall, Forrest and Mistretta.
With thanks to Lothringer_13 Laden, Munich, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Jack Allett and participants. Participants: Hannah Ellul, Sarah Forrest, Stephan Janitzky, Ben Knight, Giuseppe Mistretta, Kari Robertson, Claire Shallcross, Sebastian Stein, Mitra Wakil
um, and that there could well be a… a bomb. A bomb in the flat. Ah, if not a bomb, certainly some kind of machinery that was on the verge of, of explosion. So we had, er, we had a number for my Mum. We weren’t allowed to just, like, wander into the depot, although, I do have memories of, of being down there with her, but, um, I don’t, yeah, I don’t, I don’t think we were allowed to just go down. But we had a number for her so I rang her and, you know, I gave her the bad news — “I don’t want to alarm you but, well, yeah, I think there might be a bomb in the flat.” And, um… [Laughs.] Um… so she, you know, she came up, obviously, came right up. Um… and she had a look. She found it, the source of the sound. Er, it had dropped behind the bookshelf, and it was, um, one of those… It was a keyring that we’d been given by our uncle for Christmas, which was, it looked a bit like a mini TV remote and it had like… 6 buttons on it which you could press for different sound effects, laser-gun sound effects… you know, that kind of thing. And it had obviously got wedged… and gone off. Um, she wasn’t cross with us, which was good. She was a bit… she said something like, “Why the hell did he get you this piece of rubbish anyway?” but, um, but she wasn’t cross with us, it was fine. But when I was remembering this I, I was thinking about how, um, how sensitive… I was, to, er… to the merest sound, when I was, um, in the flat without my Mum, or, later on, you know, when she was at work and we were at home. You’re sort of… on, on tenterhooks a little bit, I think, um, while you’re still getting used to… looking after yourself.
And, um, a couple of, like a, maybe a year or so later, we moved into a house, so, I think, um… It got, the building was sold off, Royal Mail sold off the building, um, because that part of the business was privatised, and we had to leave the flat… So, er, we were on the council list and, and, about a year later we got a house, we got offered a house, m-, and, um, it was a couple of miles out of town. My Mum had started working nights by then, and so now we were, you know, she was going off to work of an evening but we, she wasn’t just downstairs any more and… And I dis-, and that sort of sense of, just being slightly, you know, slightly more alert… not exactly on edge but just very alert, to what’s going on, um, while you’re getting used to a place and getting used to… yeah, looking after yourself a little bit, um, was really heightened when we moved to the house and I, I have a… really clear memory of being in bed shortly after moving into the new house and… just being super aware of all the sounds that it was making. And, also the lights, you know, the way the lights move, the shadows move over the… ceiling, through the cracks in the curtains and… just being very aware that I was sort of, taking stock of it all… and giving it a, a name and a place and, and working out how, you know, a-, er, what, what was going on and… And how that was like a part of getting used to the new place… Um, so that you weren’t constantly turning round saying “What was that?” Um… and the, the house, so the house was like, and the-, and then you know, and then you, you… You become used to certain sounds and they become
comforting. And you know when there’s something wrong cos you know when something’s out of the ordinary. There’s a, a train line right by the back of the house. And, um, that’s, the sound of the train became became quite comforting — like it was, it was not right, you couldn’t see the trains from the house but it was close enough that, um… the windows would rattle, they were quite old window frames and they would rattle when the train went by. And, um, you know, now, if people visit they sort of look up in shock, when a train goes by. Like, “What was that?” Well, maybe before the windows got changed they did. And I — I wouldn’t even hear it, I wouldn’t have even noticed that a train had gone by, I just became completely oblivious to it, but at the… When we first moved in, it became like a… a marker, and it became quite a comforting sound. Yeah, and you had to, kind of build up this sort of aural landscape of the place because then if there’s something that you can’t place that was out of, out of, um, the ordinary, that you would… you would know to be a little bit more alert about what was going on.
— I think the sounds that are hardest to place are usually the ones that… erm, escape from being a part of your everyday environment, almost kind of… below a level of consciousness. So it’s something that’s happening that has an effect on you, but it’s not necessarily something you know is having an effect on you. Um, I mean, looking back on it, what, what I’m thinking about is something that, well, the… what the sound is connected to, what makes the sound, in this instance probably commercial aeroplanes, erm, flying over cities in and out of airports, is something that everyone experiences. It’s like, you know, growing up on a, a, a suburb next to a motorway and having the constant sound of traffic in the background. Um, and when I was living in Glasgow it was obviously something there, it’s not just something that’s suddenly been s-, sprung on… me, since I’ve been living in a… in London. I mean, in Glasgow it was there, but, erm, it was something that was… quantifiable, quite easy, erm, I think and I — if I’m probably wrong about this, then it probably just proves how… unobservant I actually am. But, um, for me, from what I can remember I can only really put my finger on kind of, like, you know, one kind of distinct flight path that I’ve ever really, kind of, thought of… Erm, which must be between, like, Knightswood and Drumchapel, so it was always something kind of… You know, it was always something I could put my finger on. And it wasn’t something that I ever thought about very often. You know, you just see planes, erm, where, wh-, wherever you are really, if you live anywhere — you don’t even have to live near an airport but they’re just there, they always are, you can
see them. The — but, in this instance they were kind of quantifiable, because in my experience it wasn’t something that… happened too often.
Erm… and then in August of last year, I briefly moved down to London, for an ill-fated job which didn’t really work out. Um, and, I must have been quite a… mm. Slightly… disengaged place of — where I was obviously in a new environment with, obviously, stimulus that I’ve, I know I’ve dealt with before but, just coming down off the train with all my stuff, and then… st-, staying at a friend’s house and starting a, a new job, er, the next morning was, you know… I thought it was, you know, ev-, it w-, it was everything was kind of churned up senses-wise. And I remember waking up that morning, it was, I think one of the reasons why, another reason, mainly, why this is — not, obviously to do with this sound, but — to th-, probably, explains, maybe why I was feeling so, kind of, unmoored from my environment, um, was that it was Glasgow temperature in Glasgow, and when I got down to London it was almost like, it was that sort of… err… s-, sounds quite banal and stereotypical but it was hot, really hot. It felt like getting off an aeroplane and hitting that kind of, you know… Mediterranean kind of swelter, the… thickness of the air. And I was walking through central London with my bike and all my stuff with a jumper and, um, a coat on, and just felt so out of, s-, so out of place because of what, what I was wearing and what what I was doing. Felt like I was almost, I got, should’ve got off a, erm, a train in the middle of the Arctic or something. Erm… but anyway. When I went to sleep that night obviously I, I, cos it was hot
so I went to sleep with the window ajar — not too much because I was told that there were mosquitos. I don’t think there are though, really… Erm… and I obviously, I set my alarm. But what actually woke me up was the sound of an aeroplane, erm, and it felt like it must have gone over th-, two, about two centimetres over the top of the house I was staying in, it was so… loud. It came, the sound, came in, tha-, it came in through the window and the engine was right there, um, outside my window or something. It was just a, it was just a total shock, erm, I must’ve, I was obviously not fully awake and this was the thing that really, kind of, shook me up but it was one of, definitely one of those moments where, erm, something… which is so under your radar when you live in a city, just escapes that environment and suddenly becomes something all encompassing and unfathomable. Erm, it was, yeah, it was, it was totally strange and only, kind of, added to that, you know, seesawing sense of strangeness that I was having up until that point, erm, like I thought I was intr-, dressed for some sort of strange adventure, with all my clothes on in, like, a kind of Mediterranean city [laughs.] But, um… Mm. After that I didn’t… jolt up, and, I was, wasn’t w-, woken up fully, like it was a, like someone had thrown ice-cold water on me. I, erm, I fell back in a, to a kind of semi-daze… And, I had my, enough wits about me to think about w-, to kind of quantify what it was, and then to try, and I thought to myself, right, okay, I’m going to try and count how many seconds it takes… I’m going to count, sorry, erm, from when I can’t hear a plane to when a new, um, to the sound of a new plane goes over
the top. And, I think I distinctly remember counting about… I don’t think I even counted to one. It … felt, and, I mean it wasn’t a very long period, it must have only been about half an hour, but it felt like there was just a, a constant stream of planes going over the, going overhead that I’d inadvertently kind of, gone to sleep under a runway or something. But… yeah, it was, yeah, it was incredibly intense. Erm… Again, that is something obviously that’s died down, I imagine that would be terrifying if that never kind of settled down, back into your normal environment. But, when I was thinking about that, I went for a walk round the park near my, um, flat, in, in Hilly Fields in Brockley, and I was, again, listening for the — not counting, listening for the planes going over the head, going overhead, and I suddenly feel like it’s something that I can… I – it gives me… I mean, it’s obviously somethi-, it’s obviously something that’s, because of that, because of it being something so, kind of, strange and uncanny, like, this sound — I don’t know what it actually was, what it was doing – um, must be something, kind of, quite significant in, um, when I go to the park or just go for a walk after work or just a short walk, and, erm, I can hear these different trajectories over, over my head and I can, erm, trace a kind of, smaller trajectory round the park under it. Erm… there’s something about that that I always, I actually find quite satisfying. Erm, but, I don’t necessarily think the… that sound would have been so important to me if I hadn’t left my window open, erm, before. Yeah, before, in August, when I came down for that brief time.
— So, I… am going to answer, answer the question about being obstructive, about my, um… language being obstructive. And, it’s not necessarily a tactic, because it’s not necessarily something that I like doing, but I find myself sometimes when I’m talking to someone in a conversation, um… maybe agreeing, and so saying, “Yeah,” or, um… yeah, making some sort of vocal signal to the per-, to what the person’s saying. But I can hear my own voice, when I do it. And it’s like it’s cutting through the person’s language, and then kind of, it’s almost like it’s disrupting what they’re saying… Um… And I can see them sometimes look at me, when I say it, which almost puts them off what they’re saying… and I become aware that, ah… that I sh-, that I should probably just shut up and listen, but I think at the same time that it’s probably good to agree, so the person feels like they’re getting… a con-, you know, some sort of dialogue, rather than, them just speaking on their own. So it’s a funny kind of thing. And a — but also, it’s not very nice, necessarily… hearing your own voice sometimes, so it’s kind of like an odd… weight or something in the room… But you kind of, ah… yeah, you’re supposed to be kind of, listening to someone and then there’s this, just this odd… thing that gets inserted every now and then which is you… and I think, just – yeah. So. Sometimes it’s just a bit funny, in terms of, like, how you allow someone to vocalise thoughts, and how you should… act. Because I think that some people probably prefer it if you… say something, so they can keep going, and other people will prefer it if you don’t say anything, so maybe you, you actually change the path of what they’re saying.
— I had… a week – it was pretty much a week, 7 days & 7 nights – when I didn’t speak to a single soul, um, except for two small conversations on the, the phone. Um, I’d gone up north to this house in the countryside, and I was gonna be filming, um, a short film. So I had a series of sculptures with me, um, and a, a video camera, and audio recording equipment and stuff like that. Um… and I was quite conscious that I, I wanted it to be a time when I was just by myself and kind of isolated with the objects that I was working with. Um… and as the days went on, I was, um, working all day and I’d sort of get up at 7 in the morning, and I’d begin, I’d sort of set up a sculpture in various rooms within the house, um, and I would, I would, f-, sort of film, throughout the day, setting up the lights, and setting up the audio equipment. Um, and then… kind of losing my track, of the story… I guess the day was just filled, the day was just filled like that, just me, just kind of continuously working, continuously getting on, um. And I think because I spend quite a lot of time by myself anyway, um, I’m quite used to – well, I suppose when you’re making art and things you’re quite used to having a lot of silence, you’re just used to thinking and reading and, um… And so I wasn’t really super aware of the fact that I wasn’t speaking, I don’t think. Um… But every day, when I was doing this project I would go for a walk as well, and sort of film all day, record, and then go for a walk. And there was this hill, at the back of the house, and to get to the top of the hill — you’d almost reach the top of the hill, it was maybe… 20 minutes walk
or something like that, and there was a, erm, a brick wall, that was up there, like a really old stone… [crash in background, pauses] …that I would, um, that I would sort of sit on, and then, kind of contemplate or think about what it was that I was doing. And I found in those moments, I began to speak. And I think it was this odd thing with being… completely by myself. And somehow when I was in the space of the house, I didn’t feel… the need – maybe cos I was working or something like that – I di-, I didn’t feel, myself, the need to sort of speak, out loud. But, when I was up on that hill, like, you would sort of look around and you weren’t able to see – you know, you could sort of see houses in the distance but there wasn’t any people anywhere and there was this sense of being completely by myself. And I think the thing that I found quite odd about it was that I would be speaking and I would sometimes be, like, talking about what it was that I had to do or, erm, talking about… things I’d been reading about or something like that. But it was a definite sense of talking to someone, which I found quite odd, cos I couldn’t work out if I was talking to myself, or if I was sort of projecting some other, or something, that I was thinking about. Um… And the other thing, when I was filming on the – cos – uh, this, this, this week was quite intense, it was just work, work, work, all the way through – but, when I was, um, filming I had all my editing equipment with me as well, cos I wanted to check that the footage was working out ok. As I went on, that the light levels were right and everything. Um, and when I went back and, like, watched all this footage there’s bits that I’m accidentally
in shot, um, because, I’m, you know, I’m fixing a light or I’m doing something like that, um, and as far as I was aware I hadn’t been speaking during that time, but when I go back and I watch the film footage, I’m talking! And it’s a really odd thing to hear yourself, like, speaking, without being aware as well. And there was, one point where I must have bumped myself, like I must have bashed my arm or stubbed my toe or something like that just outside the shot, and I don’t just go, “Ah!”, like that, to communicate, like I’ve hurt myself, I go, “Oh! Sore.” [Laughs.] It’s really weird! And I don’t know… why, like, who I’m telling or what… It’s such an odd thing to hear myself, it’s like a, really weird way that you begin to speak when you’re completely by yourself and you’re not really aware that you’re doing it… And the other thing, the thing that was odd about those silences, was, what I was recording, um, through – visually – was the object in, you know, in all these different spaces in the house, um, but the audio for that wasn’t important, so I wasn’t thinking, you know, if I was eating something it didn’t matter, if you could hear me on the camera. But then, when the camera was off, the audio that I was recording was gonna be the, sort of sounds from the house, and it was to be, like, the… domestic, um, I guess… living sounds, like me, hoovering, or doing the dishes, or cooking my tea, or, um, I don’t know, just walking about the house and listening to the radio or something like that. Um… and in those moments, it was really important that the sound was the sound of someone on their own. So, in those moments I was so aware that I wasn’t speaking, um, and I was so aware… of tr-, of making sure that I wasn’t… speaking, to anyone. So there was a kind of mix I guess, I suppose
in those extended silences when I – this was a week when I, apart from two conversations on the phone I didn’t speak to anyone – and in those extended silences, I think… I don’t know, it was just… surprising how you filled them, I suppose.
In 2012 Psykick Dancehall spent October at Lothringer_13 Laden, Munich, at the invitation of Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. Also on the resi...
Published on Jul 26, 2013
In 2012 Psykick Dancehall spent October at Lothringer_13 Laden, Munich, at the invitation of Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. Also on the resi...