Robert Curgenven's Sirène: Selected Pipe Organ Works 1983–2014 (LP, out on Recorded Fields) is reviewed by Brian Morton in The Wire 367.
The video – which features the second half of his "Ressuscitant de l'étreinte de la Sirène" composition from Sirène – was filmed and edited by Robert Curgenven, and
Curgenven writes: "This was filmed on the lunette of Lake Mungo, an ancient lake bed in Australia's New South Wales, 1000 kilometers from the coast and home to the Barkindji, Nyiampaa and Mutthi Mutthi peoples. It is also the site of the oldest human remains in the world to be ritually cremated and the oldest human remains found outside of Africa – both estimated to be 42,000 years old. Evidence exists to show the area has been inhabited for 50,000 years.
This video acts as a bridge between the themes of migration and settler colonialism explored in Sirène and another forthcoming 12", They Tore The Earth And, Like A Scar, It Swallowed Them comprising footage shot at a series of locations across the Australian continent.
While Sirène is recorded entirely on the UK's Cornish peninsula – the original home of my grandfather's grandfather who emigrated to Australia in the 19th century – They Tore The Earth... charts the story of settler colonialism, where a land is discovered and assumed to be empty, the colonising nation arrives and settles toward the interior, breaking the relationship the traditional, indigenous people have to the land. In place of that is created a new, more destructive and exploitative relationship.
This short film is also intended to provide a visual bridge between the maritime realms of Sirène's Cornish coastline to the ancient, weathered desert vistas of Australia's rugged interior."
With thanks to Kathleen McDowall and Andy Goodman.
LP + digital: robertcurgenven.bandcamp.com/album/they-tore-the-earth-and-like-a-scar-it-swallowed-them. Further info & suggested reading/viewing list at: recordedfields.net/records/rfe_02
(Text does not appear in live a/v set). Video text from album back cover, Video extracted from live A/V version of the album, filmed entirely on location in Australia, over 5,000kms in 10 days, Feb/March 2014. Live a/v version performed at Cork Film Festival (Ireland), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam, NL), Lausanne Underground Film Festival (LUFF) (Switzerland); SONICA Festival (Ljubljana/Slovenia), OSA Festival (Sopot/PL), Ambient Park (Bialystok/PL), Trans/Wizje Festival, Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw, Poland) & others.
Amidst the heat and the dust, in a landscape populated only by the insinuation of characters, the field recordings bear testament to a dramaturgical tension within an ontological and phenomenal space - a starkness dwelling within an unfillable horizon. As the embodiment of a rogue outpost of empire, the settler colonialists’ blind enactment of will and violence against and into the arid interior of their new land serves as the manifestation of a mortal struggle. This story is not about a battle well-fought in a hard and unforgiving land, nor the romanticisation of ghost towns and their spectral remains. Whether the settlers’ myopic conquest be a dogged attempt that ends within the span of one short life or a hard-won, yet momentary, triumph to last a few generations, the result is much the same. It is as if the conviction in their misapprehension of the “willful, lavish land” is turned once again upon them, as the ravaging frontier consumes and erases the ruins of these battles, leaving little to tell bar a scar where the drama played out in the wretched shadow of true desolation.
Four scenes in a delinearised order comprise the album and the live audio-visual versions of this piece. Within the sequence of the overarching chronology the scenes are: the survey of a land assumed to be empty; the movement into and inhabitation of this confrontingly large, alien landscape and the colonists vague awareness of the underlying social landscape; a conflagration and the resulting change in the relationships with the land for all within this social landscape; devastation - of culture, citizenry, land - the inevitable decline.
Audio mixed in Milan (2008), Joachimstal, Torun (2009), London, Sydney, Brisbane, Alice Springs (2010), Cornwall (2011-2013), Kings Heath (2014). Album mastered & cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin, September 2014. Vinyl pressed at The Vinyl Factory, Hayes, UK, October 2014.
Video & design concept: Robert Curgenven
Album audio Ooiginally derived from the 12 channel sound installation “Unsilenced Landscape” (pure field recordings), exhibited in 2009 at Biorama Projekt, Joachimstal, Germany; Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej (Centre for Contemporary Art), Torun, Poland; & Diapason Gallery, New York as part of “Ten years of Microsound”.
Unprocessed field recordings from over 30 locations across Australia from 1999-2010 including: Coober Pedy, Mound Springs, Blinman, Parachilna, Wilpena & Flinders Ranges (South Australia); Kynuna, Winton (Central Queensland); Roper River, Mataranka, Cape Crawford, Litchfield & Kakadu National Parks, Gunbalanya / Oenpelli, Darwin, Ewaninga, Chambers’ Pillar, Alice Springs, Emily Gap, Jesse Gap, Ormiston Gorge, Barkly Highway, Top Springs, Tanami Desert (Northern Territory); Echo Point (New South Wales) & Central Victoria. Guitars & bass recorded in Milan, Amsterdam, Melbourne, London & Cornwall (2007-2013). Piano recorded in Berlin (2004-5) & Cornwall (2013). Bass/ventilators for ‘scene 1‘ recorded live at Gare du Nord, Basel (2010). Turntables & dubplates recorded at The Premises, London (2009-2010), Trewellard & Trewetha, Cornwall (2011-2013). Pipe organs recorded in Cornwall: St Paul (Ludgvan), St Winnow (Towednack), St Uny (Lelant), St Wyllow (Lanteglos), St Cyrus & Juliette (St Veep) (2011-13). Dedicated to First Peoples throughout the world.
The album release & this trailer follows the presentation of the live audio version of ‘They tore the earth…’ in over 30 cities across 10 countries in 2013-14 at festivals including Todays Art (Netherlands), Mozg (Poland) & venues such as Cave12 (Switzerland), A4 (Slovakia) & STEIM (Netherlands). The live A/V version premiered in 2014. Full 30min live A/V version: Irish Premiere (Cork Film Festival), Polish Premiere (OSA festival), Swiss Premiere (Lausanne Underground Film Festival). Dutch Premiere (Sonic Acts festival).
3 channel video installation version exhibited at Blindside Gallery (Melbourne, Australia, 2016) & Wandesford Quay Gallery (Cork, Ireland, 2017) recordedfields.net/installations/they-tore-3chan-video/
Debut performance of "A Young Lovers' Guide to Speculative Pataphysics", live set by Robert Curgenven at Wall Riss gallery, Fribourg, Switzerland, 25th April 2015. Wall Riss' 2nd Birthday celebrations. Filmed by Marc Zendrini on a clevertelephone of a projection on an uneven wall includes live room recording.
New live A/V performance using heavily phasing live audio to directly power live video projection that draws on the principles of colour and colour shadows discovered by Edwin Land (inventor of Polaroid sunglasses and Polaroid photography). The live audio comprises custom-built low frequency oscillators and custom-cut dubplates and test pressings that are used to build a constantly changing field of oscillating chords of sound. Fed to custom-designed software which directly converts this audio to a constantly changing one pixel video signal based on the phasing difference between the left and right audio channels. Watching this simple flickering (but not strobing) image that consists often of only black and white, but sometimes two colours, the eye starts to see a range of additional colours, bringing about a synaesthetic experience combining the physicality of the audio with the immersive quality of the video. For more information on Edwin Land’s discovery and colour shadows see - greatreality.com/Color2Color.htm
Video software coded by Bas Van Koolwijk basvankoolwijk.com/ who is co-developer of the amazing Synchronator synchronator.com/
World premiere of live audiovisual set of "They tore the earth and, like a scar, it swallowed them", OSA Festival, Poland, 12/09/14. Filming & editing: Sylwester Galuschka, Kolonia Artystow (festival director with Katja Smola).
Further information and studio version (on red transparent vinyl) at recordedfields.net/records/rfe_02
Full album trailer: vimeo.com/114122030
Projekty realizowane ze środków Gminy Miasta Sopotu i Samorządu Województwa Pomorskiego.
Organizator: Kolonia Artystów
Współorganizator: Państwowa Galeria Sztuki w Sopocie
Partnerzy: Biuro Dźwięku Katowice, Nadbałtyckie Centrum Kultury, Let's ART, Monotype Records
Wsparcie technologiczne: Sound Suport PRO – Function One, MOOV, Luminaris
Not Freud or Rohrschach, a new Spiritual Epilepsy. There are no patterns on the 1pixel video. The colours may (not) be there.
Robert Curgenven live at XI Festiwal Muzyki Teatralnej (11th Festival for Theatrical Music): Tribute to Tadeusz Kantor.**
Sound: room recording of live set (courtesy Daniel Brozek) includes noises from room vibrating and audience..
Video: screen capture of live feed to projector, driven entirely by live bass from 2 custom made low frequency oscillators.
Additional equipment: 3 turntables, custom dubplates, unidentified 78rpm acetates. **[Photo-sensitivity warning]**
Issues with frames dropping are due to feed being at 30-60frames per second and capture rate being unfortunately lower.
Details at recordedfields.net/live/speculative-pataphysics/ Thanks to Pawel Szroniak & Katarzyna Szumska.