From Sunday July 5th to Wednesday July 8th IFP will host Remembered Futures, a project by and with composers/musicians Amble Skuse, Carolyn Chen and Grace Leslie. The three are in Beijing exploring an ancient Chinese instrument – Guqin – coupled with computers and electronics to produce ambient and meditative music and sounds that challenge both history and present. Drawing inspiration from remembered heritage and imagined futures, they paint a vision of the now.
The 'Open Sessions' at IFP will be the culmination of 6 weeks of exploration, meditation, conversation and experimentation. They will share film documentation and recordings of their experiements in the gallery space and there will be a series of private intimate 'playings' where you can hear the artists' minds talking to each other through sound.
Looking at heritage and tradition, we can only ever see it through a lens of our own experience, blurring the hyper modern, information technology, fast paced brain patterns with the slow, reflective pace of the Guqin culture. We use EEG readers to explore patterns of meditation through electronic sound, and explore the theory of non-performance (guqin culture) by playing stealth concerts and focussing our performance inwards rather than outwards towards an audience.
The culture of the guqin is vastly different from our notion of 'performed' musical culture. The process of learning and playing the guqin is a process of self reflection and refinement. This should be a meditative process in which you learn to hear the wisdom of the ancient composers, centre your inner thoughts and find a connection with heaven through a spiritual stillness.
The playing of the guqin is about the performer finding a truthful space in the moment, and communicating that through the music. This resonates with performance art as opposed to theatre. We are not summoning our energy to 'perform' for you, blocking out where we 'really' are in order to deliver an agreed and rehearsed pretense. What you see when we play is how we are in that moment. This process draws from improvisation, and performance art theory, and we explore it though using real time brain wave sensors (which we are unable to control or bluff) and improvised playings.
Sunday July 5th 3-6pm Opening event: Open Session with drinks and snacks, live listening with headphones. Film projection and visual documentation, recordings will be set up.
Monday July 6th - Wednesday July 8th, 12am – 7pm: Daily open sessions with conversations (see details below)
Wednesday July 7:30-9pm: Final playing/sharing/concert
Daily Conversations Menu (Sunday, Monday and Wednesday):
Sunday July 5th Conversation: The Guqin tradition
The guqin is a quiet, 7-string Chinese zither. The instrument of the literati, its history is rife with Taoist-Confucian ideology, practices of self-refinement, and lore of telepathic spiritual connection between players and worthy listeners. We will introduce the instrument and its unique cultural standpoint in a few pieces from traditional repertoire as a prelude to discussion. How does the guqin relate to other instrumental traditions, and other musical worlds? How might guqin tradition interface with contemporary music-making, composing, and improvising?
Monday July 6th Conversation: Listening to field recordings
What do we listen to when we listen to a recording of a city street or a mountaintop? How do we listen to field recordings – where do we do it and why? How is this experience specific, how does it relate to concert listening, or actually listening in the field itself? How does listening relate to meditation? We will share a few field recordings from Beijing and Gubeikou - please bring your own field recordings to share and discuss if you like!
Wednesday July 8th Conversation: Public and private listening
What are the virtues and failings of different forms of listening – concert performances, open rehearsals, private hearings and over-hearings? What are our expectations, what do we take home with us, and how does this relate to the form in which things are offered? We will discuss our experiences playing in non-concert spaces, in relation to other examples of socially engaged art or public performance.