Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Barrow AFC – the Artists’ Book

Another outcome of the project is to be an edition of books that will be available to buy from the club shop. This may take the form of a book/CD/DVD package that straightforwardly documents the work made during the residency or it may constitute a piece of work in itself. Examining the role of printed matter in recording transient events (such as a football match), this will be partly inspired in terms of its aesthetic and content by pre-existing fan-written histories and biographies of the club and its players and partly by the ethos of early avant garde publications such as Mayakovsky and Burliuk’s A Slap in the Face of Public Taste with it’s sackcloth binding and hand-stencilled lettering.

The contents will include a mixture of written texts, visual scores and photographs. These may be bound in separate sections and held together in a hard jacket similar to a library-bound musical score. Other possible formats include that of a broadsheet newspaper to be handed out at matches, following in the foot steps of the little-known journal
Jeder Mann Eigner Fussball (Every Man his Own Football)
‘Walter Mehring claimed to be responsible for the unusual distribution methods used for ‘Jedermann Sein Eigner Fussball’, dated 15th Feb. 1919, costing 30 Pfennigs… “We hired a char-a-banc… and also a little band, complete with frock coats and top hats, ho used to play at ex-servicemen’s funerals. We, the editorial staff, paced behind, six strong, bearing bundles of Jedermann instead of wreaths. In the sophisticated west end of the city we earned more taunts than pennies, but our sales mounted sharply as we entered the lower-middle class districts of North and East Berlin.” This combined the ambition of a newspaper with the niche marketing of an artists’ book. However, it was surpressed immediately and remaining copies destroyed.'
From ‘Futurist Typography and the Liberated Text’ by Alan Bartram (British Library, 2005)

A comprehensive selection of dramatically titled, fan-produced books on the team can be found in Barrow reference library. These range from simple photocopied and stapled books to the more luxurious hard bound (in a uniform royal blue). Some of my favourites include:
- The Definitive Barrow FC. This one has a list of every player ever to play for the team.
- The Holker St. Greats Pt.2. Brilliantly concise statements summing up each player, such as: ‘Steve Brooks always gave 100%’, ‘Peter McDonnell, always a crowd favourite’, ‘Mick Richmond a popular attacking full back’, ‘Kevin Thomas the Jolly Juggler’ etc.
- Wembley 1990 FA Trophy Final
– spiral bound scrapbook.

- The Colin Cowperthwaite Testimonial Programme

- A Dream Weekend

- Barrow AFC: In the Beginning There Was the End
- BAFC: The Postwar Years has some excellent chapter headings:
The Saddest Season Ever, We Battle On, Pitch Ultimatum from League, Hughes Lasts 24 hrs Before McManus Steps in, 3,500 Witness City Thriller, Bring on the Wolves, Cup Dream Shattered, Two Out of Three In, Another Woeful Season, Gillingham’s Nightmare on Holker St., Vickers Steps in With Financial Help.

Another current influence is The Unfortunates by B.S Johnson. A sports journalist, sent to a Midlands town on a weekly assignment, finds himself confronted by ghosts from the past when he disembarks at the railway station and attempts to go about the routine business of reporting a football match. The book is contained in a box, with twenty seven sections presented, unbound, to be shuffled and read in whichever random order the reader happens to take them.
“And what would the ‘bleeding librarians” do to The Unfortunates, Johnson wondered. “Would they bind it up like a Proper Book, the sods?” Some did of course.’

Quote from ‘Futurist Typography and the Liberated Text’ by Alan Bartram (British Library, 2005)

Miscellaneous ideas:
- Produce a book printed on a series of microfiche films so that people have to go to the reference library in order to read it.
- Get fans and small children to draw portraits of every player who ever played for the team from imagination and compile them into sticker album.

- Make a special edition of the programme that is written entirely hand written / hand drawn.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Music...

“Music is something one takes before or after the meal, but never the meal itself.” Giorgio De Chirico, No Music (1913).

Below are some of the ideas we have come up with so far for creating a piece of music for the ground with the aim of exploring an overall concept of football as a performance involving players and spectators. Utilising a mixture of field recordings, music and spoken word, we are looking at ways of using the ground as a place to experiment and ultimately as a stage in itself.

1) One idea is to develop a piece of music based around the team’s history and current fortunes. This would involve creating a series of simple musical motifs derived from past and present league tables, resulting in a compressed musical history with each group of notes following league positions for each month of every year of the team’s existence. Breaking each season down into a series of mathematically generated musical modules with major and minor keys representing success or defeat. An alternative (and perhaps more manageable approach to this would involve creating a smaller set of musical narratives based around famous players, events and goals in the club’s history. This draws upon the idea of an ‘Oracular lyre’ featured in the story ‘Ka’ by Russian futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov, using a pythagorean correlation between musical tones and historical chronology. Taking this one step further, it may be possible to generate a short piece of music that changes every week with the team’s fortunes throughout the year, and is performed at each match by a volunteer instrumentalist/soloist drawn from the supporters, reporting musically on the previous match.

2) During the residency so far, we have been experimenting with using contact microphones to record otherwise undetectable sounds. “By attaching it to a flat surface, the mic transforms vibrations in materials into audio signals and, just as the positioning of an acoustic mic will affect the sound picked up, so the sound from the contact mic can be changed with different positioning.” (We got these from – a great site for anybody interested in analogue effects units and circuit bending). As well as applying these to instruments, we have been using them to record the sound of everyday objects and recently led a series of school workshops in which we created an entire orchestra with items from Wilkinsons’ gardening section. Over the next month we intend to apply these to a game of football, including feet stamping on the terraces, the ball hitting various surfaces and the monitoring and sound experimentation of players’ heartbeats/respiratory systems as well as the possibility of placing a device inside the ball itself during a match or training session. The resulting sounds may then be manipulated and/or looped in real time before being relayed back to the tannoy for live playback.
3) A third idea would see us recruiting an amateur orchestra (i.e. anyone who owns an instrument – they don’t necessarily have to be able to play it) by handing out leaflets at a match. We would then line up two sets of musicians along opposite sides of the pitch (East and West, not goal ends). They would be asked to play a certain note or a specified key corresponding to the movements of their team. The emphasis would not be on melody, but on the back and forth motion of the music and the instruments would be tuned or chosen to avoid ‘virtuosoism’.
4) Miscellaneous ideas:
a) Sound experiments with crowd recordings – Chants and songs.
b) Make a list of every player ever to play for the club. Ask fans to recite them.
c) Old adverts for defunct local businesses – sing/recite these.
d) Scarves with texts woven in to be chanted by the wearer.
e) Pitched rattles / pint glasse.
f) Use specially designed ground markings to paint a graphic score directly onto the pitch.
g) Find early silent films of football and perform live soundtracks. E.G. Die elf Teufel / The Eleven Devils (1927)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Four Four Two Magazine, May 2008

Music / Graphic Scores

Though it is intended that the residency will have several outcomes, its main aspect will be the creation of a piece of experimental music based around the idea of a football as a performance. Below is some background information and links to a few of the artists and composers who have influenced our thinking on the project so far:

Dick RaaijmakersPing Pong. This is a piece of music made by attaching two contact microphones to a table tennis table. Each side of the table is pitched a semi-tone apart and the piece is performed through the act of playing a game of table tennis.
Graphic Scores - examples of many of the most pioneering graphic scores can be found at the Pictures of Music site.

One score we have been particularly looking at is Treatise by the english composer Cornelius Cardew.“There are few more impressive-looking conceptions than Cornelius Cardew's Treatise (1963-7), a 236-page graphic score of exquisite intricacy. Questions of what to play and how to play it are left to the performer(s)' discretion; though, as here, a degree of pre-performance planning helps reinforce the very definite continuity in texture and dynamics that the individual pages suggest. ”
"Robert Rauschenberg's Open Score was performed on October 14th, 1966. It began with a tennis game between Frank Stella and his tennis partner, Mimi Kanarek, on a full-scale court laid out on the Armory floor. Rauschenberg had adopted one of the oldest forms of performance that everyone recognizes, a tennis match, and made it into dance. He also used the game 'to control the lights and to perform as an orchestra.' Each time Frank or Mimi hit the ball a loud BONG vibrated around the Armory and the sound of each BONG switched off one of the lights illuminating the court..."

Trevor Wishart “began working with recorded sounds in 1969. In reaction to death of father, a factory worker, abandoned conventional composing, bought small portable tape-recorder and collected sounds of machinery in workshops, foundries and power stations. Set up directed improvisation route-map (Machine 2) for small chorus to imitate, then transform, these sounds. Recordings of the improvisations, plus machine sources and contemporary news items (Apollo 11 moon shot) formed basis of Machine, an electronically preserved dream (1970).”
French composer Eliane Radigue's graphic scores for Trilogie de la Mort are a set of logarithmic curves printed onto transparent paper then overlaid onto manuscript paper to create a series of sustained rising tones.
Alan Tomlinson is a trombonist who performed from a mobile chip van in Yorkshire. "In November 2003, artist and promoter Simon Thackray created a new duet. He put London based Improvising trombonist Alan Tomlinson together with a Fish and Chip van. Alan was booked to blow the horn to herald the arrival of the van and perform a short concert to the Fish and Chip van queues in each village."
We have also been looking at other pieces that use the human voice in innovative ways, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen's Stimmung and Gesang der Junglinge and Einstein on the Beach by Phillip Glass.
Evening Mail Article 14/02/2008