Not necessarily in the right order

David Waterworth

  • 28th Feb - 24th March
  • Stephen Lawrence Gallery

Carol Wyss and Dominic Murcott; Graeme Miller; Dirty Electronics and Dushume

Preview Event: 7-10 pm Saturday 25 February; Exhibition Launch Event: 6-9 pm: Tuesday 28 February.

Taking its cue from the celebrated Morcambe and Wise sketch with ‘special guest’ Andre Previn, this exhibition engages with its invited participants in testing concepts of order in sound. Eric’s punchline: ‘I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order’ evokes the Laßwitz / Borges allegories of the ‘universal library’ (Library of Babel), a conceptual library containing the countless numbers of books of a determinate length necessary to have every possible ordering of sensible and nonsensical words. The fitting application of this concept to the medium of sound is what makes the joke so enduring, and this also lays out ground for the works encountered in this exhibition. Variation and external intervention, is built into all of the works. They are spatially presented, though at times sharing the same sound space, so the time and passage of their audiences’ visits also becomes a factor in altering how the works are experienced.

HEAD PIECE: Visual Artist Carol Wyss, Composer Dominic Murcott and Digital Designer Ian Peppiatt collaborate on a new project creating a unique and mesmerising piece where both images and sounds are derived from human bones. The work is brought to life with a series of computerised algorithms that continually reinvent the work and make each visit different. 

SKIZZEN: Is a video piece of the first collaboration between Composer Dominic Murcott and Visual Artist Carol Wyss. A specialist on the US/Mexican player piano composer Conlon Nancarrow, Dominic invited Carol to engage with a pianola roll he’d composed using visual composition techniques. She then created unique screen prints layered onto the piano roll. The resulting works places imagery of the human body within an antiquated music machine.

CAT PRINT: (Graeme Miller) A player-piano replays a recording of a cat that walked across the keys 30 years ago. The piece illuminates the death and revivification inherent in all mechanical recording. As the keys visibly repeat the act of being depressed, they reveal the imprint of the live body and follow the negative space of the creature. As with the piano rolls that recoded Rachmaninov playing his own music in 1919, the observer is attending a kind of séance and the random, spontaneous, and unrepeatable elements are extrapolated back to the player and composer as a kind of signature of presence and authenticity. In Cat Print, the same is true although it is composed (almost) entirely accidentally  

INTERROGATING THE NOISE: Dirty Electronics & Dushume

A cacophony of rhythmic stutters polarising with brutal deep bass – interrogating the noise! Object Noise Clusters made from everyday objects – pots and pans, oil can, oven shelf, coffee pot, clock gongs – are hung from the ceiling and intermittently vigorously shaken by motors. These are placed next to DIY loudspeakers strung-up creating an intense dialogue between acoustic and electronic sound. While rotating speaker horns bounce clicks around the space. Ink drips from a cannula onto a piece of out-stretched vibrating ‘noise’ paper. Watch the artwork unfold as a preview night performance (see panel below).

An in-depth full-page review of this exhibition by Robert Barry, including an account of the Dirty Electronics / Dushume performance, has been published in issue 471 of The Wire (p 88), available through their paywall HERE


Cat Print: Steve Wald; Mike Harrison, White Wing Electronics; Jack Ingles and Renato Lopes, Chiltern Pianos; James Morrison, Pianodisc Systems CA; Les Cooper, J&L Pianos; Mark Waltham, Merry-Go-Round Music.

Gallery staff: Lauryn Keift-Wilshere, Oba Moyosade, Megan Balani

Emma Margetson, Sound Image Research Group; Laura Shering, FLAS Research and Enterprise Support

Related Events & Exhibitions

  • Interrogating the Noise – Performance

    • Saturday 25th February 2023
    • 19:00 - 22:00 hrs
    • Stephen Lawrence Gallery

    Photographed by Jonathan Crabb

    Interrogating the Noise – Performance

    Dirty Electronics . . .