Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-03-10 - 7:54 a.m.
I decided not to go down to Southampton today – I was too tired from Monday’s trek and some new work has come in that I need to assess pretty rapidly. If we are to do it then the timetable will be quite tight. One of the maxims that governs the firm’s area of specialist expertise is – if you can’t find a process then you can’t do process improvement.
Does this apply to creative endeavour? One of the areas where I think it applies to me is in the configuration and pathways of the recording equipment that I use. At the moment I am thinking of the process of passing sound from the PC – an environment where all kind of manipulation is possible – out into the world and down to a minidisk. On that journey, the sound can be mixed with improvised real time elements – an aspect of the process that seems to work well for me. So there is a process there but I think it needs some focussed improvement – especially in the area of the relationship between the US428 – which seems to be a good quality DA converter and mixer – and the computer.
I have got an outline of the next steps in the process. Once sound is on a MD it can pass in and out of the Dell and in the Dell it can be edited and refined as WAV. The final step is from MD to CD on a Hifi CD recorder. While there are improvisational steps in the whole process they are embedded in a sequence which allows them to be assessed and developed. At the moment I am listening to a MD that is part way down that sequence. A good improvisational phase is partly to do with the character of the interfaces.
I am thinking about “excellence” – it’s a concept that features in a project that has come up this week – and if we join we will have to give an account of what it means as far as we are concerned – and indeed we do stand for excellence in process improvement. But is also was part of the rhetoric of BEAST – they stand for excellence in electroacoustic composition and performance. And I am sure that Hughes Hall would say that they stand for excellence in the link between academic law and the world of practice.
I am trying to track more bits of this electroacoustic phenomenon – it stretches across a whole host of related areas. The more I find out about it the more I am convinced that Dyp Experience were working with part of the aesthetic – the fact that they all came from Birmingham and kept on doing it for a decade.
One of the puzzles is the way electroacoustics doesn’t surface where you would expect it. For example I looked in David Toop’s Oceans of Sound – and couldn’t find a single reference to any of the leading UK figures.
I always try to put things into a developmental history. I can see that David Cunningham’s stuff in the late 1970s is one of the antecedents. The last CD of his that I bought is apparently dub music – but some of the interventions are electroacoustic and it is this mix that makes it important – or so I read. As a piece of Jamaican derived music it is part of the same move that threw up Two Tone in nearby Coventry. On a global stage this is the time when the Electrifying Mojo in Detroit is provoking the Belleville Three into their great leaps forward. The spirit of technological innovation links Coventry Birmingham and Detroit – going back to Ford, Chrysler etc and maybe the Detroit Underground and to the Birmingham Lunar Society which was also underground in its way.
So while techno took one path out into global acceptance as part of consumer culture in the mid 1990s, the electroacoustic bretheren took a totally different path as a kind of enclosed society. EA is radical in the sense that it provokes the reaction “a could do that with my tape recorder “. So maybe it uses the academic barrier as a means of creating cultural work space – a kind of classic alliance between modernism and academia – and also a way of establishing global reach between Estonia, Canada, Aberdeen, Montreal and Toronto.
There are a lot of other touch-points. I mentioned Tacita Dean's Berlin sound piece. I also have a recording of Lamont Young and Terry Riley from (I think 1960) - a live performance of very rich sound events. Its a broadcast and the commentator is confused and talks over part of it - but the character of the sound is similar to some of the BEAST sounds.
Actually that work project is a Coventry alliance