Camping in Canada

During Day 1 and the planning of the Pop-up, participants put forward responses to the brief. Dann Downes (Ambiguous Devices) reflects on his interest in DIY electroacoustic instruments. He contemplates an ugly construction project based on a bone-anchored hearing aid exploring, encouraging and conducting feedback rather than trying to eliminate it from the device.

Sam Warren focuses on the Haymarket Shopping Centre, opened in 1973 and one of the earliest commercial shopping centres in the UK. In the last ten years, the Haymarket has been surpassed by other shopping centres in Leicester, such as the Highcross (Shires). This has led to a number of empty shops in the Haymarket. With this in mind, Warren wants to explore through sound the death of the High Street shop and the culture of zero-hour contracts. He draws on the quote in Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times “Don’t stop for lunch be ahead of your competitor.” Warren considers how this humorous but ironic film quote is dystopian in nature and is shockingly too close for comfort in the UK at this time.

Amit Patel proposes the idea of the Studio Bench as a way of making circuits and music in a holistic fashion. He also wants to expand on the idea of recontexualising hardware and DIY electronics as a hardware mash-up or remix. He suggests the idea of mashing-up the Radical Chip with the Bed of Nails, building the Simple n Radical circuit using freeform wire construction. John Richards also discusses how this connects to, what he considers, Speculative Sound Circuits, where two contrasting circuits or methods of construction can be speculatively combined. There is further discussion on how this relates, or not, to the idea of DIYness, crafting and hacking (see Against Stripboard? post).

Patel also puts forward the idea of a portable studio as part of his Studio Bench. The studio would be used to share his rumbles and ramblings on social media, specifically Instagram. He speaks out, stating his research, in this instance, will not sit behind a paywall. Patel’s intention in the Pop-up is to make an “unapologetic racket” through performance and recordings.

Harry Smith (Fermata Ark) comes to the gathering free from a pre-conceived plan. After partaking in the discussion, he decides to focus on the variety of ideas put forward by the other performers/makers from the position of a documentary/field recording artist with the statement “Philosophy is not a theory but an activity” – Wittgenstein (Muse V), guiding his areas of focus. Smith’s initial plan is to visually and sonically capture the groups experiments, sounds, and discussion, resulting in some form of a documentary film. Whilst Katie-Jane Howard is also interested in documentation. She looks to record the performance-installation in the Haymarket on old Portastudio 4-tracks.

Sol Andersson proposes continue her research into feedback, resonant objects and guerrilla-like set-ups and performance. Matt Rogerson considers the work of cultural theorist Paul Virilio, speed and power, the information superhighway, and the contrasting Slow Movement. Attacking an amplified acoustic instrument with a drill, drill attack, is proposed as a performance action. Mike Ryan thinks about wind in relation to a DIY electronic instrument, and Ben Middle seeks to connect the Pop-up to his research into sound installation in urban settings.

For planning the Pop-up, the analogy of camping in Canada was used. Partly inspired by Dann Downes from New Brunswick, and partly by the off art-grid nature of the Shopping Centre. Essentially, we were to be self-sufficient and there would be no going back ‘home’ to get things.

Camping in Canada – shopping list

One significant decision that took place during the planning of the Pop-up was not to use a standard PA to amplify our makes in the Shopping Centre. We wanted the amplification and sound systems to be bespoke; or, more accurately, electronic instrument, amplification and physical space as a unified, self-supporting system. The sound system/systems would be built from speaker drivers, vibration speakers, old radio and cassette players, and amp circuits. We intended speakers to be attached to the floor and walls, held in the hand, and hung them from the ceiling.

We planned a similar approach to lighting, with the intention to ‘wire’ the space to accommodate swinging and flickering lightbulbs.

There was also an attempt to cover different eventualities and creative outcomes. A box of blank postcards for writing, lino blocks and paper for printing, schematics, images and scores for exhibiting. All equipment and materials were gathered with the limit of everything fitting into a large taxi.

Scavenging for Lino Blocks – Printing Press

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