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  Knowledge generation
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Conference Themes
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G Boddington
& Mukul Patel
S Jeyasingh
& Peter Gomes
R Layzell
& Jane Draycott
R Lee
& Michael Donaghy
G Miller
& Peter Wiegold
E Wallen
& April de Angelis
Conference Credits
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Conference Dates
Ghislaine Boddington and Mukul Patel

GB … we've talked together a lot but haven’t had time for really quite a few months so it is really nice to have this time to talk. So you were talking about Stockhausen?

MP because of that word 'microphoning', which I picked up today, and which you picked up on. There is a distinction to be made which is quite interesting which is between operating a microphone and recording stuff off a sample CD or sampling stuff from a CD into your computer, which is what a lot of sampling consists of these days. I think if you are actually doing the recording that gives you a few more possibilities, a few more avenues to explore. Like, for example, I am recording this with two mics – that over there, with these here, which we are going to swap over half way through. I am hoping that my voice now, when I play it back and record it through these microphones will sound a little bit more interior, because the resonance from my skull will kind of come through on the recording. That is going to happen when you put them on later. You can play about with the exterior and interior recordings. Tomorrow, at the party, perhaps.

GB the basis of what we are going to talk about – the sampling side. Because we are both a bit obsessive about sampling or the word ‘sampling’ is something that comes up a lot between us. I know that the last conversation we had, we were talking about chance and random – those theories, those early points of debate that have come through, philosophies, and thinking and methodologies that have come through – for me, I have really been aware of it in the dance sector, but also working with music and sound.

MP with Merce Cunningham, you were doing a lot of work?

GB with Merce it has been really interesting talking with him about the chance and random side of his work. Because about two years ago when I was working with him and interviewing him I really asked him, very seriously, how did you get to these theories around chance and random, and he just kind of laughed at me and said, well it wasn’t me, it was what was happening at the time, we were in a series of dinner parties and parties and groups and that’s just what was happening. People were looking at the I-Ching, they were looking at mathematical theories, they were looking at randomness, post-war fate situation. And he really did kind of giggle at me and go, no, that’s not, don’t attach that to me, that was the era I grew up in, that was all around me and that is what influenced me and Cage and we went forward with that.

MP it is important that we don’t fetishise chance now, because we are not living through that period where there is that atmosphere. I think if you use chance now it feels more artificial, a bit more –

GB In a Cunnningham piece, you are still looking at that work on the stage and it is very much a spectator piece – you are looking at that work on a stage and it is, the way he looks at it is, as you watch, you choose what it is you look at it – it is chance what happens, the cross-overs between the dancers, the visuals, the set, etc. And again, the editing happens within the spectator. You are your own editor, as you are looking at the stage. The situation is, you say, now, would be really different?

MP I haven’t ever seen a Merce Cunningham dance piece, which is – I know people who have made music for him. I have listened to that music separately, to seeing any of the dance. That is probably a bit weird. And we are coming from quite different places in that sense. No, I just meant, it would feel – I don’t feel comfortable working with chance, and I don’t know many people around me who do use it. There are not a group of people who are using it. I think people are more interested in deliberation.

GB when you are sampling, like you are now, you have got this mic on and you have got this mic on, and there are lots of people out there just taking little 30 sec to two minute clips. When you are sampling on that, that is already an edited situation, because you are coming from the individual choosing?

MP maybe it is a matter of perspective, but I choose when to press pause on my recorder. And I am going to go home tonight and do some work on this material. So maybe this is a matter of perspective. I don’t know if this is leading anywhere or – but the dichotomy I wanted to bring up is between using things where the process is hidden from the audience unless they read about the work, or know about the work beforehand, they approach the work intellectually, and processes which are self-evident. That happens a lot with music, and I think with Reich who I am a huge fan of. Most of his music explains itself to you, I think. It explains itself to me and I think that is a general thing.

GB so you mean, within the systems - as you listen to the systems building up, you can feel the –

MP they have an inner logic. The same with, for example, Indian classical music, I find that it has its inner logic which you don’t need to approach in an intellectual way to begin to understand, you just have to listen a lot longer than with say the music of Reich, which explains itself fairly rapidly to you, you have to listen a lot longer to an older form of music, but you do get it, without having to read about it. And this is my problem with stuff which is based on, like the I-ching… based on blots of grease on this paper which is covering my score and I transcribed the notes… that kind of thing. Unless you know about it – its great, on an intellectual level, but it doesn’t necessarily make great music which you can share.

GB and then if we look at the 80s and the sampling, kind of madness that happened within that time, particularly in the cultural sector. Not so much in arts projects – definitely in arts projects too, but particularly in club culture, in fashion, in film. A lot more of gathering little bits. Putting together from a personal edited point of view. When you have got a whole set of samples like that, which I am often got to, and I am sitting there with all this stuff, and you are having to choose the point to edit, that is a discussion we have had a lot in ResCen.

MP you've got so much stuff. How many mountains of tape have you got, and how much time have you to actually go through them? I think the sampling boom is biting back. It was encouraged by the fact that memory became cheaper, and things like mini-disk became cheaper. You could record more and more – you didn’t have to deal with huge amounts of tape, editing was quicker, but now I have got stacks of stuff that I just do not know where to begin with. I feel constrained by that. I do not want even to do anything new until I have dealt with that.

GB we have got it too – just masses…

MP unless you interpret it in a topical way, or are talented enough to interpret it in a way which… whatever – where words fail you. Unless you are able to articulate it in a way that you can no longer speak about it, then you are doing that whole library a huge disservice.

GB there must be so many people even here today who have got mounds of archive material from a variety of different projects, from different points when they have gathered stuff and not even used it. Yes, we are in the same position – we have got just so much around us.

MP we were going to talk about authorship?

GB that was kind of leading into that, because with that sampling side and – I mean when – you can go at the sampling process as a group, like we are doing at the moment for the party tomorrow, or you can, as you do often, as an author with your own work. What do you do then, if you have been gathering found sounds and you have – like you are, these next three days, and actually, say it wasn’t about putting it together for the party tomorrow where we know we are in a pooling process and we are going to work very fast as a group, and it won’t be particularly – tomorrow, it won’t be determinable who had which idea, because it is starting to merge up already from the few meetings we have had. But when you are working to finish a piece which is maybe for you in Mukhal's name as an author, how do you go about it then, that editing process?

MP Um, I don’t know

GB that is when you start to make choices, you choose from the samples you have got. You are sampling samples? This is something I have been thinking about. And talking in the ResCen group – the whole process of when you get to a point when there is so much there and you have to actually edit through it, whether it is your own made material, whether you have sampled from many different sources, you are gathering in, there is this huge pool for that particular piece or that event or whatever it is, whether it is a club or a CD or whatever. Do you usually let it stay fluid and do it like on the night or ..?

MP I think I will have to contradict myself. The key is limiting your material, and there comes a time when you can’t apply a rule or a strategy to limiting your material, and you just do it by chance. So I have a list of files in this folder on my computer which are all audio files, 10 different takes of a viola, and I have had time to go through the first three takes as they are listed alphabetically in the folder or by date modified or whatever, and I just don’t have time to go through the rest. I am just going to trash them, because if I don’t make that decision now to limit the pool, I am not going to get on to the next stage of the work which is manipulating or further cropping. So there is obviously… I think the alphabetical order plays a fairly large role in my choices.

GB you should turn it round as Chris did today, and do it Z-A. For the first time – it was really good for me.

MP on Max you can do that, there is an ordering arrow where you can order the files you have in a folder according to date, name, whatever, date modified or name, or size, and you can order them from the lowest to the highest, or vice versa. That could also be used –

GB that becomes like the I-ching. So you are sampling samples which we are all doing. So basically that editing process, and coming back to ResCen discussions –

MP I'll have to contradict myself again

GB – no, that's good. When we have been talking in the group, there has been big discussion – so how do you make those editing choices? We have had quite big discussions around the concept of intuition, and as you become more experienced as a maker, that you actually start to – you don’t really realise that your own intuition kicks into play. So you are faced with a set of stuff, you have got to choose the bits you want to play with –

MP is this something that you want to expose? The intuitive process? Does it help?

GB I don’t know –

MP somebody was saying earlier, I forget who it was, on the platform when you were giving your three minute speeches – Graeme or maybe Richard – someone saying about exposing the process. I think it was Richard, and that he was worried if he did it –

GB Graeme – it was Graeme, because Graeme was talking about the fact that, entering into ResCen debate, I think at first we were all worried, but actually by having to really talk about our process in a very in depth way, for the last three years, and yeah, Graeme said it really clearly, that by exploring process so much he wouldn’t ever be able to get to a product again.

MP then he had a good time… But the other thing that might be – I try never to repeat myself with processes. It is hard work. I think the key is to cultivate certain habits which are useful and avoid other habits which are not. And that is a very vague thing, determining what is a useful habit for you in your creative process and what is actually making it stale, not fun for the audience and not enlightening for yourself.

GB I am feeling at quite an interesting point at this moment, because we have been working together – we have been working over the last four weeks preparing two events, the Future Physical launch, and this event. And you get to the point where the preparation is so intense and the detail, who is doing what, and the briefings, incredible technical detail too that we have all been playing with, and it is all so new doing this streaming stuff, and the live editing, etc. That when we get to a point like today when we have just had our group meeting, and finished off, and everybody doing there stuff now. And actually I am at a point now when I have to drop back, I have to drop back out of that, I have to let it go. Completely let it go. Which is – it has taken me a really long time to learn that, in group processes. Because, for me, I am doing that initial part, I am doing the initiation, and working with the shinkansen team on the production side, but also the whole of the structuring, the dramaturgy, the briefing, the atmosphere we want, and you know, we just sat there – we have done that, and now it is out there. It is running now for the next two days and I don’t – I know a certain amount about tomorrow night because of the structural aspect and the particular things which are fixed, which are about 6 or 7 things, but the rest of it is totally fluid. I have really learnt to have to do that, because that is not my role to continue to interfere in it. But I also know that in some ways that is the relief of group process, because you do your bit and then you can stop, step back and let other specialists take over, who are really good at what they are doing. I like that –

MP but the group creative processes always leads to madness – it does, it is crazy, an entertaining madness, but if you ask any of the group that you have assembled, I think everybody is going slightly crazy. Already.

GB we will have to see! Now it is up to the whole group, we have to bring in something which is going to be fun, which is going to be enjoyable, memories –

MP that editing process, isolating what will resonate with – say for example, for tomorrow, what will resonate with people who are likely to have been here, or not been here, and are on the ship tomorrow, all those kind of things, we just don’t have enough time to process them.

GB the other thing that comes out of this debate, and it is something that has been well prepared for in NightWalking, is the fact that, of course, what we are doing is we are sampling from everything that is happening – everyone that is talking, every bit that is happening, and I think everyone has had in their packs a form to say, we are signing away, we know everyone is being filmed, everyone is being taped and this form says, this is for use for this weekend, for ResCen onwards but only for educational purposes. So, in this kind of situation, we are slightly in a dream situation where we are not in any potential of getting into trouble for crossing lines, but we know that the debate out there, beyond that, and I wondered if you could talk a little about the music side of that. Because I wanted to catch up on that. What is this bootleg stuff that is happening?

MP I am not an expert on that –

GB but the stuff you mentioned, very quickly –

I was just round at a friend’s house, and they played me this CD, it is a set of three CDs that are all MP3 based, and so there is about 60 or 70 tracks on each CD. They bought it in Rough Trade, which do do something pretty interesting stuff. And this is by – there is a whole rostra of artists, and basically it is this new bootleg culture. I thought I new about, I thought it was about people just mixing two or three tracks together and releasing it as a vinyl.

GB a kind of mad mix?

MP yeah, like the KLF did years ago with Whitney joins the Jams. Whitney Houston and – they got into a lot of trouble for that. But this is kind of more extreme. There was this one track, it must have been, what, 10mins long, and every single sample was less than 7 secs long. Now I don’t understand the –

GB maybe it is legal

MP if that is the situation legally, right now, it might change any moment, or it might change from one composition to another, so, I don’t really know how significant that is. But basically, he applied this rule. That the person who made this track. He sampled horrible 80s pop music, and lots of good 80s pop music as well, in this disgusting, violent, melange of – there was all kinds of stuff in there, switching every minute, from Jive Bunny to Madonna to – when you listened to it. It was kind of a nostalgia trip, but it was also really nauseating.

GB 7 secs of hundreds of tracks making up each track?

MP some of the mixing was done very artfully, some of it was done completely artlessly.

[end of dialogue]






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