Good things take time. Over the past three months, a lot of private correspondence has taken place between me and Hamburg based artist, Didi Hock, as part of our involvement in the international project, Arts Territory Exchange (founded and coordinated by artist, Gudrun Filipska). As we’ve worked on developing a better understanding of each other and how we work, it’s taken time (and a deadline) to progress any actual art making.
As a result of dozens of emailed Q&As, idea swaps, more questions, random thoughts, Skype chats, a short Skype hookup (thanks to poor internet connections in Australia and Germany), and several file transfers, we’re finally presenting our first collaborative work at Charles Sturt University Dubbo campus in February, as part of a group show following on from last year’s Feast of Artists* event in Dubbo.
In the first few weeks of our exchange, we generated an enormous volume of words, delving into some concepts and notions of territory that were interesting but had us feeling a bit overwhelmed, and not making headway with creating work.
We asked each other what we wanted from the ATE exchange and one of the things I was keen to play with was what I referred to as ‘hybrid’ soundscapes, using recordings from each of our environments, or home ground territories. I believed there would be more differences than commonalities – the challenge being to create one mix with them. So, I experimented using various sound sketches recorded and exchanged by each of us, layering them with ambient, experimental sound effects and music. Ranging in length from 2 minutes to 5 minutes, the atmospheric sound sketches included those things we did every day – smoking cigarettes, leaving the house, going for a walk – and the sounds that surround us all the time – wind, rain, insects, frogs, birds, dogs and even silence (atmospheric silence).
From here we started to listen……and met in imagination. – Hock & Goldsmith
What fascinated me was how seamless the edits were – dissolving any lines on maps and revealing how much we had in common. The differences weren’t as stark as I’d first imagined.
Hock saw the mixes as meditative. As someone who doesn’t meditate, it’s not something I’d considered doing with these works, particularly given I listen to them repeatedly for weeks during the editing process. While I was thinking of the potential/possible need for visuals at this point, Hock convinced me that there was value in the mixes as stand-alone works – presenting them as a meditative soundscape for listeners to take what they will from them.
So, our first collaborative work was born. Fictional Territories #01 is about a 12-minute loop weaving in and out of reality, back and forth, creating a new space to explore – only limited by the imagination. The presentation of the work will expose the listener to only headphones and a ‘user manual’ suggesting how one may prepare to experience the work. The site of the installation has also been a major consideration in the presentation, as we discussed how the work might sit within the context of the daily activities of students and academics at the university campus, and their use of the space.
The Feast of Artists exhibition at Charles Sturt University Dubbo Campus in the Student Central building (901), opens 3 February through to 26 March. Follow my Facebook Page for updates and more details about the exhibition.
I have a second work in the exhibition, an experimental video/sound work using old videotape recordings of a native crested pigeon recorded over a decade ago, paired with an experimental sound mix of ambient music and sound effects created using household items, titled Ocyphaps lophotes.
*Feast of Artists (20 October 2017) was an event created by Dubbo School of Distance Education art teacher, Tamara Lawry, to provide senior art students from western NSW the opportunity to be inspired by practicing artists of the region and beyond. The Feast of Artists exhibition will showcase the work of many of those artists who participated in the 2017 event.