Well we had a fun packed few days in Manchester in May.
To kick things off, we took part in the Pairings conference organised by MIRIAD at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU): The conference explored the three themes of Conversation, Collaboration and Material. On Thursday, I spent a wonderful morning in the embroidery machine room at MMU recording sounds of students and staff working on various machines. The machine room is such a fantastic resource that should continue to be cherished and developed. A huge thank you to Jill, Ben and Laura for helping out playing the machines.
I then took time to sample and loop extracts of the recordings. The plan was to include these sounds in our performance. We gave a 30 minute live performance on the Friday evening to mark the end of the two day conference. Four members of the collective worked together: Jason Singh, Yusra Warsama, Berit Greinke and myself.
We wanted to create an improvised piece based on the themes of the conference:"conversation, collaboration and material", so we could present a live piece that was a collaborative conversation between the four of us through using voices, analogue and digital machines, needles, threads, microphones, samplers and loop pedals, and physical material such as cloth. The themes also gave us the idea of exploring threes (even though the conference title was Pairings! and there were four of us.)
I've been re-reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau recently, and in one of the chapters he talks about three chairs. He says that one chair is for solitude, two chairs are for friendship and three chairs are for society. Thoreau's quote seemed a perfect way of summing up the nature of different people meeting in different contexts and some of the potential strengths and difficulties of collaboration. We used the quote from Walden as the start of the performance. So at different points throughout the performance there are single conversations, two people conversing and three or more. We start and end with the solitude of one.
You can listen to the performance on our soundcloud page here: http://soundcloud.com/sampler-culture-clash
Thank you to Alice, Helen and everyone at Miriad and MMU for inviting us to take part, for making the conference a great success and for helping to make the performance happen.