Invigilating Haroon Mirza, Lisson Gallery o-o-o-o
"I bet this is driving you mad, no?"
It’s Liverpool four years ago where I am invigilating at the now defunct A Foundation; here I first encounter Haroon’s work, the master DJ of assembled appliances. A confused phone conversation with him about taking photo shots, a broken signal, rotating noises and a creepy visitor. Chance and fate are mere integrations composed by the artist. An isolated Cat Stevens guitar rift lingers in my psyche, ever calling me into a becoming with the work. And it remains there on repeat to be recalled even now. Present day. Another gallery, another city, another invigilation role, another Haroon exhibition.
Perhaps after this I can finally be freed.
Recognisable turntables welcome me back for the latest guessing game of preserved aleatoric affects on automated sound and image. Gone is the newly functioning retro wooden furniture of the past. Stripped down almost entirely to its bare usage essentials, arranged geometrically simple, things have gone clinical and gallery minimal, a Delia Derbyshire gone-android-without-feeling, or a Throbbing Gristle record'Still Walking'skipped to death.. Brooding familial trances and full bodied beats strangle the building and repercussive interferences slice up any hope of the ambient. A stronger focus on electronic light as a conceptual medium promises future direction. But there’s little respite in here.
‘Reverberation Chamber’: A cylindrical colony of ants entrapped, on a honey drip, scratching out sound in a room of pungent darkness. Flash of light! And then a dry shower clatters off glossy walls, shattering the room. This Amplifies and re-communicates the live event of sprayed water taking place in a closed off yet visible area next door.(A reference to Sheffield's hydraulic industry where Haroon habituates?). The ants won’t survive this torture.
A child is carried in and returns immediately, screaming.
(Yesterday I was told to 'stop doing that'... “Stop doing what?”
“That tapping”, she said.
Taking my headphones out, “It’s not me it's the start of this song I'm playing”.
“Oh” she answered, and then it wasn't annoying any more. Haroon would have found that fascinating I thought).
If in this exhibition noise is a natural extract between objects, then any music produced is down to unintended or well timed spacial carvings. The quiet canvas of the gallery space is adept at revealing this, like a contemplative night club struggling with wave interference, where sound is topographic. I begin watching, well, what am I watching? A TV plays a dull computer screen playing an audio editor of broken sentences. This is then visually echoed into a distance until it ceases. I am watching, quite literally nothing, but the demonstration of audio being de/re/constructed through multiple recordings of technological transferences, (referring to Alvin Lucier’s ‘Sitting In A Room’). Here corporeal cognition exists within technology whose own visual/audio codes express their own finite re-translations. It may be worth contrasting this with Karen Mirza and Brad Butler's 'Where A Straight Line Meets A Curve', in collaboration with David Cunningham which emphasises the cognition of 'Sitting' in physical memory.
Connected but also separate, a stuttering speaker hisses; ‘the speech, the speech, the speech is destroyed’;
This is taunting my situation, just after the doctor told me that I may never recover from my paralysed right vocal cord. MY fucking speech is destroyed.
The record player across the room whines at being made to rotate. ‘I’m tired of doing this’, it cries to me, light flicking on and off (is this the sound of light?). But the one to its left perched on an amplifier is having none of this, pulsating it along. ‘If you don’t play you won’t appear like an art work. Get on with it!’ All the while a penny is stuck to its record, preventing the needle from ever retreating. These could be the artifices of a Musikalisches Würfelspiel. But only artifices. My foot begins to tap with the endless pulse but I must resist. The noise is overbearing.
(Visitor); “Excuse me. Excuse meee!”
“Oh... sorry?". I can barely hear anyone beyond the moans, "Yeah?”
“I’ve seen you are wearing ear plugs for this. Would you mind if I took a photo of you?”
“Yeah of course you can. Erm... Actually. Why?”
“Pardon? Oh, I like the noise, but just thought it funny, what with you wearing them”
“Yeah, the pitch is bad for my ears, ah-well ok... But what're you goin to use the pics for?”
“Oh nothing, just... Because it’s interesting, I wanted to CAPTURE you. In the work!”
“Ummmm, ah, go on then”
‘Ok GREAT! Hold still now…’