January 22nd and 23rd 2014
Installation/Piccolo/Video: Sabine Vogel
Before the last Symposium, Landscape Quartet had a short 3 days residency at “Allenheads Contemporary Arts”.
Allenheads is a small village in Northumberland, that used to be a lead mining area.
From the Allenheads Contemporary Arts Centre, where we stayed with Landscape Quartet in January 2014, you could see a cairnon the top of a nearby hill that is used as a navigation point. Cairns you can see all over the world as naviagation points in the mountains, but many are formed by mountaineers bringing a stone with them up the mountain and putting it on a pile when they reach the peak. In ancient times people built cairns in which they buried their dead.
I saw this cairn from down hill and just knew this will be spot where I’m going to work!
While walking uphill, watching the sheep, I found a lot of fluorspar in all kind of colors and thought about the exploitation of the earth through mining and also about the exploitation of people and animals, that had died in the mines.
Up there at the cairn, a beautiful view, the wind was ice cold. I put up the bansuris (Indian wooden flutes), which were played by the wind. Down in the village they had just cut down some wood and made a huge fire, the smoke came up hill and the whole area was filled with an amazing smell.
I played along with the bansuris and I played with the wind, with the cold and the landscape.
The Landscape Quartet: free improv and new environmental sound art from the UK and Sweden @ InterArts Centre, Malmö, 11th-12th April 2014 (scroll down for exhibition and performance times).
Landscape Quartet brings together four musicians/sound artists to explore “natural” environments as constituent elements in new sound art. Bennett Hogg, Matthew Sansom, Stefan Östersjö and Sabine Vogel combine field recording, improvisation, live electronics, and video, in work drawn from residencies in (mostly) remote locations in England and Sweden.
The installations and performances at Malmö’s InterArts Centre present the results of three Swedish residencies alongside work produced over the past two years in Northumberland, England, including a recent project at Allenheads Contemporary Arts. The work of the quartet tries to avoid objectifying the landscape, or “representing” place, instead striving to establish a living relationship with the sites and acknowledging that we are living elements in a much bigger picture, an ecosystem of energies, movements, sounds, and communications across and between species.
In Malmö, this involves filling the different spaces of the building with new versions of works originally produced out in the natural environment – the tranquil forests and lakes around Kalv in central Sweden, the breathtaking openness of the Baltic Sea environment of Klagshamns Udde near Malmö, and the disconcerting collision of industry and wilderness in the northern Swedish city of Gavle. In addition to work produced in Sweden there are also video and performance works produced during a residency at Allenheads Contemporary Arts in January of this year, as well as other pieces made in Northumberland.
Katharine Norman – “As I got to know a little of the work of the quartet’s individual members I realized that I was also getting to understand a little more about how personal stories and sensibilities inform practice, and decisions about practice, and in particular the deep connections we are capable of making between self (one’s personal ‘landscape’, as it were) and how we engage with landscape”.
Dallas Simpson – “An inspiring event offering many insights into the evolving individual methodologies and collective collaborations of The Landscape Quartet”.
James Wyness – “. . . so much of the Landscape Quartet’s work leaks out at the sides and can’t be contained within an orthodox musical discourse. This is its strength”.
Exhibition/Installation opening times:
Friday 11th and Saturday 12th April, 2014, 13:00-22:00
There will be fixed-media audio-visual works in the cafe and multiple spaces at the Inter Arts Center with spontaneous live performances and interventions throughout the day
Friday 11th April @ 17:00 “Tracks and Traces” – Travelling in sound between the urban and the natural at the industrial edges in Gävle.
Friday 11th April @ 19:00 “Where Rivers Meet” – A sequence of sonic art works responding to elemental forces of wind and water in Allenheads, Northumberland during the Winter.
Sat 12th April @ 17:00 “Landscape Quartet” – multi-channel sound works using live improvisation and field recordings from wild locations in England and Sweden.
An improvisation I did, on October 10th 2013, on St. Martha’s hill in Surrey with amazing sounding stones, which I found there on the side of the hill, where the ancient earth circles had been.
Aeolian improvisation next to the sea in Souther Sweden. Flute and violin played by the wind, but allowing for gestural playing by moving the instruments against and through the wind. No signal processing, this is a live, acoustic performance.Bennett Hogg and Sabine Vogel – aeolian improvisation
An inspiring event offering many insights into the evolving individual methodologies and collective collaborations of The Landscape Quartet. Much of their work parallels my own, there are, inevitably, many points of convergence and departure. In my reflections here I would like to share some insights I have gained over the years that may be relevant to the evolution of their own practice as interrogators and performers of the environment, I offer, with respect, a number of extended techniques, both thoughts and practice, derived from my own experience, which may be useful.
As conscious beings we have custodianship of the planet. Yet it is our material father and mother, it sustains and feeds us, waters us, provides us with energy, materials for tools and dwellings, digests our waste, and our pollution – up to a point. It exists harmonically in a myriad of states in complex dynamic rhythms, vibrations and motions operating on wide-ranging time scales and including living and non-living participants. It is ancient, it is the inheritance of hydrogen and vast cosmic forces. And its musicality can be observed, felt and heard in every moment of our existence in any and in every environment, and at every scale from cosmic to atomic… Read the rest of this entry »
When does environment become landscape, and vice versa, at what point do they interleave, and what are the useful distinctions to be drawn? Where is performance, and when does documentation become art? When does ‘working together’ as an ensemble start? — is it at the point where two people walk together in silence through local woods, deep in individual thought; or when they work together to construct an instrument for one of them to play; or when they stand, knee deep, in either a rushing river or summer corn, enticing violins or flute to respond sonically to the elements; or when they gather in an anonymous, well-worn university performance space (part studio, part concert hall) to talk, share, and present their work in progress? Memories and personal histories are so embedded in the places that matter, or come to matter, that making ensemble work from response to landscape surely involves addressing a human counterpoint of different sensibilities and contexts, and means working to address this landscape, too? Read the rest of this entry »
University of Surrey, 12th and 13th October 2013. Studio 1, PATS Building
We will be presenting new works from our various Swedish residency projects, as well as new duo collaborations, and with presentations on the work from our special guests, Katharine Norman and Max Eastley.
Saturday 12th October
10:00-12:30 – presentations and discussions on work in progress
14:00-17:00 – presentations and discussions on work in progress
19:30-21:00 – concert by LQ and guests
Sunday 13th October
10:00-12:30 – presentations and responses
14:00-16:00 – responses and general discussion
All attendees are encouraged to participate with questions and comments and critical reflections. All events are free. Please confirm attendance ideally by Oct 1 to Matthew Sansom: m.sansom[at]surrey.ac.uk
Next symposium will be at Newcastle University on 25th and 26th of January, 2014.
A personal reflection on the first half of the Landscape Quartet project by Matthew Sansom, given at the first symposium, Newcastle University (UK), July 4-5 2013.
This paper reflects on the initial stages of a research project, called the ‘Landscape Quartet’, exploring practical strategies for ecological sound art and their significance. It is research with experimental art practice at its core, determining both research process and research outcomes (Borgdorff in Biggs & Karlsson 2010: 57), seeking to critically engage with notions of the environment and our relationship with it. Broadly speaking, it joins a number of other areas of arts practice, academic endeavour, and philosophical enquiry to question the paradigm of post-Enlightenment thinking, and offer critique on Cartesian notions of the world, perception, understanding, consciousness, and so on.
I begin with an account of a performance of mine from the 2011 WFAE conference. The performance was an improvised hour-long multi-channel collage using field recordings made during three days of listening-led walks in Corfu town. Halfway into what was a hot and humid midday hour, storm winds began to rattle the open windows of the Old Fort’s Wheatstore – the venue for the performance. The wind and then rain began to weave their presence into the space; distant rumblings and thunder added their voices to an electric atmosphere. It was an exhilarating and arresting intervention that drew attention to my sense of separation between the containing architectural space of the venue and the weather-world outside by virtue of way these circumstances, as they unfolded, acted to remove that same sense of separation. Read the rest of this entry »
Reflections on/ during/ since the Landscape Quartet Symposium. Culture Lab, Newcastle University, 4-5th July 2013. Sally Jane Norman
The following text draws largely on our lively in situ discussions, recapitulating valuable points made by the other participants (the four Quartet members, and other critical friends Rachael Hales, Peter Nelson, James Wyness). It also allows me to clarify notions “brought to the table” individually, as exchanges roved productively across subjective engagements with creative practice and thinking, and cognate theoretical references.
Reflection on notions of place, physical wayfaring and wayfinding, sonic identities and kinship, both upstream and during the Symposium, brought to mind my homeland Aotearoa New Zealand, where a sense of letting the sea- or land-scape voice its songs aligns with the Polynesian belief of belonging to the environment, instead of believing that the environment belongs to us. We’re aware of having washed up as terrestrials in tribal canoes or sailing ships some time during the last millenium, if not during our 500 million year old prehistory when plants and animals began to migrate from the sea to rivers and land. Maori mythology recounts the battle of the sea god Tangaroa, who had to call his children to the ocean depths during a storm wrought by Tawhiri Matea, god of the winds and technology. Regularly since, Tangaroa hurls his waves against the land to try and destroy the realm of Tane, god of the forest, but once the storm has calmed, Tane’s earth children take to the waters to fish up and feast on the children of Tangaroa.
At the Landscape Quartet Symposium on 4/5 July at the University of Newcastle I was delighted to meet the four members, along with ‘critical friends’ Peter Nelson, Sally Jane Norman and Rachael Hales. Our discussions were intensive and wide-ranging, often delving into the complexity of new and original musical and arts practices and the relationship of these practices to disciplines such as ecology, anthropology, architecture and cultural theory. In my view this ‘open set’ approach is the most sensible – so much of the Landscape Quartet’s work leaks out at the sides and can’t be contained within an orthodox musical discourse. This is its strength.
This work of the Landscape Quartet undermines any notion of aesthetic closure. Unlike the closure that we find in, say, a conventional concert of music, where we listen, appreciate and go home feeling warm inside (perhaps), the kind of work generated by the Landscape Quartet leaves us chewing on all manner of fresh questions around music, ‘the environment’ and wider issues around human cultural activity. Perhaps the environment serves here as a substrate, offering a continuity from which creative forms emerge and recede, offering themselves up for investigation. Read the rest of this entry »