Tramway is delighted to present the European premier of the sound installation entitled A=P=P=A=R=I=T=I=O=N (2008), a collaboration between Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans and the experimental music collective Throbbing Gristle.
Cerith Wyn Evans (born 1958 Wales) began his career as a video and filmmaker, initially assisting Derek Jarman, and then making short, experimental films during the 1980s. Throughout this period he collaborated with British experimental and industrial music group Throbbing Gristle (who formed in London in 1975). Renowned for their early confrontational live performances, for which the House of Commons famously labelled the group ‘Wreckers of Civilisation’, Throbbing Gristle pioneered the use of pre-recorded samples and made extensive use of special effects. The band’s founding members were Chris Carter, Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Peter Christopherson.
Cerith Wyn Evans creates work via a process of renewal and invention, displaying a magpie like approach to a broad range of source material including literature, philosophy, cinema, music, the sciences and art history. The artist works freely across these realms to create sculptures and installations whose outward decadence and elegance often disguises multi-layered and radical content. Key to Wyn Evans practice are the literary influences of the works of great writers, in particular 20th century avant-garde movements and situational theories of the sixties and seventies such as Guy Debord, William Burroughs and Brion Gysin. The artist renegotiates remnants of these ideas, appropriating texts through modes of encryption, citation and translation to a point at which language no longer functions and meaning falls away, creating new, polyphonic readings.
Wyn Evans experiments with language often manifest themselves in romantic and elegiac sculptural forms which ultimately function as ciphers, vehicles or conduits an association which incites the notion of a séance or a medium through which language is processed. This is perhaps most evident in his series of sparkling chandeliers, which intermittently pulse in the now officially ‘dead’ language of Morse code. Often the artists’ poetic texts are orchestrated into new, magical and incandescent forms, as seen in his ongoing light experiments with mirrors, neon’s, fireworks, glitterballs and searchlights. A new neon ‘..rinsed with mercury..’ features at Tramway, an amalgam of invented and appropriated texts based on the apocalyptic epic by James Merrill The Changing Light at Sandover which documents two decades of Ouija séances hosted by Merrill.
The collaborative work A=P=P=A=R=I=T=I=O=N, was first exhibited at the 3rd Yokahama Triennale in Japan and takes it’s title from the poem by French author Stéphane Mallarmé whose work explored the relationship between content and form. Throbbing Gristle’s desire to incorporate the ‘audio-spotlight’ into their performances led them to meet the American inventor of holosonics Dr. F Joseph Pompei, eventually culminating in the collaboration with Cerith Wyn Evans. The mobile structure is influenced by the artist’s ongoing experiments with mirror mobiles, characterised in earlier works such as Before the Flowers of Friendship Faded, Friendship Faded, 2001 (fig 3) which draw on a very simple, formal element in early film – the revolving mirror. This technique saw the emergence of moving image as something magical and miraculous, and there is a similar awe when experiencing A=P=P=A=R=I=T=I=O=N, the circular ‘audio spotlight’ panels emit directional beams of sound almost in the form of a spotlight or column, an innovative new technology which uses ultrasonic signals to generate sound within the air itself.
The vocals of Genesis P-Orridge were subjected to a process of manipulation which involved extending the voice through various methods of extrapolation and time-stretching. The resulting sound was edited together with various samples and engineered to seamlessly continue and repeat over multiple channels, moving ‘through’ each of the sculpture’s ‘audio-spotlights’ in an ongoing sequential process. The polished circular mirrors present the viewer with a moving reflection of figure and ground that disconcertingly alternates with the shifting sound, evoking superimposition, polophony, layers and interstitial spaces. The soundtrack constantly evolves as the audio spotlights reflect off each other and the gallery walls, creating a unique, sculptural experience that is never the same twice.