New on the Art pages

Thursday 17 July 2008

Two of my art exhibitions now have pages up on the main site, with some background information about the shows and a few photos to pretty it all up.
Redrawing: String Quartet No.2 (Canon in Beta): All about the audiovisual installation I made for the Redrawing exhibition last month. Who’d have thought so much could be said about a blank screen and a D chord?
Mock Tudor No.2 (Why doesn’t someone get him a Pepsi?): “Every once in a while Don would scream at his mother ‘Sue! Get me a Pepsi!’ There was nothing else to do in Lancaster.” My first live sound installation, generating feedback with two loudspeakers and a microphone. Presented at Bus gallery in 2002.

More about Carl Stone

Tuesday 15 July 2008

After yesterday’s addition to Please Mister Please, I would like to direct you to Carl Stone’s website, The site features plenty of examples and discussions of his more recent work, in addition to a number of movies about barbecues.
The composer has graciously allowed me to keep a “quaint” example of his earlier work on my site, mid-80s MIDI and all, if only for a few weeks as usual.
  • Note to self: Get more composers’ websites on the sidebar ->
  • Additional note to self: I’m old enough to have written stuff I must now find a teensy bit embarrassing. In fairness, I should dig it out and upload some of it for public exposure.

Please Mister Please

Monday 14 July 2008

Carl Stone, “Vim” (1986).
(10’26”, 15.05 MB, mp3)

A Dozen Dormobiles

Monday 14 July 2008

OK, NOW the name and subject indices are updated to the end of June. And the old VW campervans just keep multiplying around my block.

What’s on top of the pile?

Sunday 13 July 2008

Milton Babbitt, Philomel and other works (Bethany Beardslee, Lynne Webber, Jerry Kuderna, Robert Miller)
“What if Elliott Carter‘s name was Ginsberg?” asked Morton Feldman once. Would his reputation be so high? I listen to Babbitt’s music pretending he’s called Babtescu, in the hope that the sensuousness and humour for which he’s praised will become apparent to me.
CDCM Computer Music Series Vol. 1
I bought this second hand because it has Jerry Hunt’s Fluud on it. I hope there’s a grant out there for a scholar to go through Hunt’s archives to translate the paralanguage he wrote in:
Fluud is a system of translation of the mechanisms of austral/boreal trace patterns produced as an aural-visual performance extraction (Robert Fludd [1574-1647] monochordum mundi syhiphoniacum, 1622). The interference austral diagrams are duplicated to generate embedded templates of patterns. Pulse and melody bursts with orders of motions (color) are translated from the channels of regulative currents (austral, boreal). The templates are selective codings of the elemental determinants (body)….

(Previously on the pile.)

Well Sorted

Friday 11 July 2008

Name and subject indices are now updated to the end of May. Yeah, well I’ve been busy.

String Quartet No.2: The Performance

Thursday 10 July 2008

In addition to presenting String Quartet No.2 (Canon in Beta) as an installation in Melbourne last month, I gave another live performance of the “concert version” of the piece. Unlike the Paris performance last year, I remembered to make a recording this time. (In any case, the Paris gig suffered from some electrical interference towards the end.)

Don’t get too excited. I was going to upload this recording, but having listened back to it I’ve decided it’s not quite good enough, at least as an audio-only experience. Sorry to get all La Monte Young on you, but my timing was a little off when playing the piece, and so I want to prepare a more flattering “studio” version in the next few days.
There’s supposed to be a video of me somewhere trying to look musical while performing in the gallery. In the meantime, you can enjoy this photo essay by an audience member, of me struggling with a faulty speaker cable immediately before the performance.

Please Mister Please

Sunday 6 July 2008

Galina Ustvolskaya, “Piano Sonata No. 6” (1988). Marianne Schroeder, piano.
(6’15”, 4.89 MB, mp3)

The Belated Return of the List of People Or Things I Have Been Mistaken For, Or Allegedly Physically Resemble, In Increasing Order Of Ridiculousness

Sunday 6 July 2008

Has it really been that long? For the first time in two years, the updated List of People Or Things I Have Been Mistaken For, Or Allegedly Physically Resemble, In Increasing Order Of Ridiculousness.

Hopelessly Devoted to Who?

Wednesday 2 July 2008

I was emailed by a friend who received an invite to my exhibition (now closed, so no plug) in Melbourne, and noticed that the two letters UK appeared in brackets after my name. “Good to see the cultural cringe is alive and well in the local scene,” he said. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to convince several people that it wasn’t my idea to bill me as an Overseas Artist. When asked why they’ve listed me as British, I have a guess and say it’s something to do with claiming travel expenses.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been identified as non-Australian. Last year I played a gig in Brisbane which billed me as a New Zealander, owing to my having flown in via Auckland; but that was an honest mistake, whereas the British tag was, to my surprise when I recalled it, true.

Even though I have now lived in London for three years, and even have dual citizenship, there’s nothing about me that feels particularly British; yet it appears that my Australian identity is slowly and steadily slipping away, in ways I cannot control. Does extensive time out of the country inevitably extinguish my Australianness?
Earlier this year The Onion’s A.V. Club posted the latest in a semi-regular series, “The scandal of Olivia Newton-John: 12 surprisingly controversial Wikipedia pages“, chronicling the most protracted and furious arguments on Wikipedia’s Talk pages over the past few months. Fierce debates raged over such controversial subjects as Speedy Gonzales, Rotary International, the capitalisation of the name k.d. lang, and the nationality of Olivia Newton-John:

Yes, we know she was born in England, but moved to Australia at age 5, and left again at age 17. But such details don’t settle the linguistic and existential question of her essential nationality. Nv8200p “think[s] there is no doubt that Newton-John identifies with Australia,” but the ensuing complicated discussion covers dual citizenship, British birth certificates, whether Mel Gibson counts as Australian, and ultimately whether Australians have an inferiority complex. “English-born, Australian-raised” is the phrase that currently describes Newton-John in the first paragraph of her entry, but the issue may not be settled…

A quick straw poll among friends in Melbourne got a unanimous result: Hell yeah, she’s Australian. The English themselves most likely remember her, if at all, as American or Australian more than British – despite her sterling work for the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. At the time of writing, her Wikipedia article describes her as an “English-born, Australian pop singer”, but of course this may change.
ONJ’s Wikipedia Talk page gives a fascinating, if not illuminating, account of the debating process that went into authoring her entry, including a section titled “Gay Icon Project” and the winning reprimand of “The E! TV special on Newton John isn’t the best source for wikipedia [sic].” Probably the most trenchant observation is this comment:

She’s still technically a British person. Australia is as guilty sometimes as some other countries in looking pass[sic] the home-born and reared people in preference of a claiming tightly[sic] to famous people such as Newton-John as the representer of Australia. I’d probably decide to only pledge my undying allegiance to the country that worships me as their symbol too.

Compare Our Libby to that other accidental icon of cheesy Seventies pop culture, the Bee Gees. Singing artistes with a similar, intercontinental upbringing, they are claimed by the British and the Australians with equal possessiveness – even though they are technically Manx. Their more contested national allegiance – in the real world, if not so much on Wikipedia – is doubtless due to their continued eminence in both countries.
Incidentally, the main debate on the Bee Gees Wikipedia Talk page concerns whether their formative years in Brisbane were spent in Redcliffe or the now-vanished Cribb Island. This sticking point seems to be more hotly contested than any of the larger claims for rival nations.
Perhaps it has been the fate of all world-famous Australians to have their nationalities confused, simply by the act of entering the wider world to be famous in. Percy Grainger was born in Melbourne, established his career in England, became an American to avoid the Great War, found his greatest fame in the USA, built his museum in Melbourne, and was buried in Adelaide beside his mother, to whom he dedicated a large memorial statue (with a rather fulsome poem on a plaque beneath) which dwarfs his own, modest grave. Depending on which country you are in, Grainger is either Australian, American, or English – the last in particular, given his identification with Anglo-Saxon, if not Aryan, culture.
There are also rare instances of celebrities who have falsely claimed Australian identities. For many years there were Tasmanians who swore they had personally known Merle Oberon as a girl growing up in St Helens, unaware that her biography was faked to disguise her mixed-race origins in Bombay. Far more common are the lazy inclusiveness granted by Australians to particularly successful New Zealanders, and the affectionate, unofficial status afforded to the likes of Our Tom and Our Fred. Such status, however, can be revoked at any time.
So, what does history have to teach me? Is my case yet another example of cultural cringe? Perhaps, having left Australia’s shores, I have been disowned, fobbed off to another unwitting country, at least until I become famous enough to be reclaimed. Or perhaps during my time abroad I have changed at an imperceptible rate until I am no longer recognisable to my fellow countrymen. Worse still is the fate of those who fall between two shores, the mercenary netherworld of the professional expatriate.

(Crossposted at Sarsaparilla.)

Pavilion Plot Thickens

Sunday 29 June 2008

Two months after the mystery pavilion appeared in Bedford Square, another one has started to spring up on the next corner. The first one, the AADRL TEN Pavilion, finally has a sign posted beside it to explain what it is. This new one will probably also take a few months to explain its existence.

A few pics of the construction site are up on Flickr. Meanwhile, one of the two warning signs stood beside the first pavilion has been disappeared, and the other is fading to an interesting colour. Well after their job was finished, the unemployed barrier poles are still hanging around like Ken Livingstone (TOPICAL HUMOUR!)

Please Mister Please

Friday 27 June 2008

Emmy the Great, “Edward is Dedward” (2006).
(3’29”, 3.19 MB, mp3)

The mummified corpse of Jeremy Bentham reads inter-office emails.

Friday 27 June 2008

bounce burp bounce burp bounce burp bounce burp bounce burp bounce burp bounce burp bounce burp bounce burp bounce Destiny's Child HONK

Meet Seixya

Tuesday 24 June 2008

More David Tudor Quotes

Sunday 22 June 2008

As long as there are people who realize that machines are not interesting and that behind any music there has to be a live person, I think that we might be able to overcome the omnipresence of synthesizers and keyboards. A lot of it is in the character of the listening: if the loudspeakers themselves are just pumping something canned or whether they are really talking to you, and that’s something that really only a musician listening to it can give you…. If you don’t have that, then you have to accept the fact that it’s like going to the cinema. Things won’t progress if electronic music remains on that level.

You have so many schools teaching electronics and they are teaching with expensive, complex equipment which people cannot possible afford to have at home. What are those students going to do when they come out? Nowadays students are coming to me from schools working with computer technology and they find that the computers they have at home are not large enough to do what they were able to do in school so that instead of furthering the musical situation, the people who were capable of doing it drop away.

A couple more quotes from that David Tudor interview I referred to last month, contrasting the “low road” and “high road” approaches to realising a composition. The interview is from 1988, so the situation has changed a little with regard to the second quote. Today, many universities are in the sad position of having worse technological facilities than what the students can afford at home.
There is, however, an institutional superstructure supporting the more “academic” musical activities, which is blandly assumed to underpin the students’ work; and almost no attempt is made to prepare students to work in conditions where this support does not exist. The students can either remain inside the academy for their entire career, or leave and find themselves hindered by being considered “outsiders” i.e. amateurs and cranks.