Today we focused on the question “How can the archive be reflected on, remixed and redefined?”
We were assisted in thinking about this question by Gary Stewart, an artist who works with experimental sound installations and performances. Gary introduced us to his work, focusing specifically on live re-mixing of archival and contemporary material.
Gary told us that he “created an environment of possibilities”, that he liked “happy accidents”, he liked the “frisson of being on the precipice” in live work, and it was the “possibility of failing which could lead to something extraordinary”.
Gary had a very nifty keyboard which he had programmed to a set of sounds and images, including some pieces from the vintage BBC series Ways of Seeing by John Berger. Two of the group were able to play with live mixing using his keyboard – without demonstration, learning by doing, having a go.
We were then told that we were all to be VJs today.
Within a half hour we were introduced to AV Mixer Pro. Working in groups of three, we compiled two files of ten images – many of which we had taken during the previous three days – and a third file of nine sound clips. All of the groups downloaded new material to supplement the sounds and image from Summer School. Even though the group members were variously comfortable with this kind of technology, everyone was able to participate.
The software allowed the three sets of files to be live mixed and each group had time to rehearse for an actual performance. This preparatory activity took the entire morning.
The performance was scheduled for mid-afternoon in the big hall at the centre of Tate Britain. While Gary set up the space and the technology, the group discussed two questions:
1. What is a strategy you can, or already do, use to create a space for creative freedom within the context of the classroom?
2. What is a strategy you can use to make the act of teaching an art practice? (this might be something you already do)
The group wrote their answers on pieces of very bright fluorescent papers which were pinned onto the already crowded walls of the studio space.
At 3 30 all participants went into the gallery and, group by group, performed their live mix. Various passers by stopped to listen, some stayed and some moved on – and then came back…
The day finished with a reflection on the live remixing experience and its connections to the everyday educational work of the participants.
Tomorrow is the last day and we are expecting another day of learning new things as well as consolidating the ideas we have worked on to date.