While in Tokyo…

Stephen Cornford is a PhD candidate at Winchester School of Art. His fine art practice-based research explores the materialities of residual media. In this blog post he reports on a recent commission for the Ftarri Festival in Tokyo, along with a further installation, Migration, and a CD, Kinetic Sculptures.

For the 2015 Ftarri Festival in Tokyo I was commissioned to make a new work to be performed by myself, long-term collaborator Patrick Farmer and a Japanese musician Madoka Kuono. My response to the commission was to produce a three-screen 16mm performance titled Digital Audio Film. The central concept of the work was the exposure of analogue film to the laser of a CD player – film emulsion being sensitive to radiation wavelengths far beyond the abilities of human sight. The work brings a technology for the reproduction of digital audio into dialogue with a moving image technology, allowing them to re-interpret one another. A machine intended to reproduce sound becomes a producer of images. This work was performed at SuperDeluxe on Sunday November 22nd with the help of Japanese filmmaker Shinkan Tamaki who leant me his projectors and provided technical support throughout the day.

After receiving the invitation I also managed to arrange an exhibition at a small independent art space, Gallery 20202 run by Yukari Fujimoto ex-promoter of Off Site, a performance space for experimental music now considered instrumental in the emergence of Onkyô. The work exhibited here titled Migration, is an installation for numerous factory-second dictaphones which modifies their mechanics and electronics to produce an audio-visual effect reminiscent of the massed migrations of birds or insects. In doing so the work draws a parallel between this organic seasonal process and the global shipping of electronics as they move through our economy from production to their inevitable end as pollutants.

Coinciding with this exhibition was the release of a new CD titled Kinetic Sculptures on the vlzprodukt label. This CD collects together works from 2006 to 2010 the majority of which were made during my MA at Dartington College of Arts.

While in Tokyo I also performed twice in collaboration with other musicians invited to the festival. On Saturday 21st I played a trio with Makoto Oshiro and Matija Schellander which took and saw us placing sound objects all over the venue in a performance which deliberately dispersed the traditional focus of attention on the stage space. I worked with 10 modified Dictaphones and a turntable placing these chirruping devices among the audience, at the bar and on the PA, while Matija walked in circles around his double bass, plucking a rod inserted between its strings and Makoto placed home-made vibrating devices and alarm clocks throughout the space and then preceded to set off firecrackers in the toilets. Finally on the Monday after the festival I performed a duo with British harpist Rhodri Davies at a local record store.

Throughout the week I was taken aback by the generosity and hospitality of the Japanese. During the installation of the exhibition and following the opening I was treated to several traditional Japanese meals at local restaurants, including one evening meal of almost a dozen small courses, each served on its own specific crockery. A wonderful week and I very much look forward to returning to Tokyo in the not-too-distant future.


To see more of Stephen Cornford’s work visit: http://www.scrawn.co.uk