Robert Boyle Lecture Theatre
Ian Trowell (Independent scholar based in the Fens) – ‘Where the system starts: Throbbing Gristle vs Architectural Association’
In March 1978, the musicians Throbbing Gristle performed at the Architectural Association in London, a rare appearance of the band and an even rarer incorporation of live music performance into the confines of the Architectural Association. The band, a transformation of the avant-garde performance artists COUM Transmissions instigated in October 1976 as a part of the controversial art exhibition Prostitution, were coterminous with the nascent phase of UK punk rock. Using the cultural zeitgeist of punk to gain access to a wider audience demanding new practices of confrontation and controversy, Throbbing Gristle promoted their philosophies and explored the codes of performance. They sought to go beyond punk and expose its limitations and inherent inflexibilities, such that live appearances were marked by extreme reactions of the audience. Coining a new genre of industrial music, the band provoked an architectural dialogue at multiple points: they drew motivation from a fierce critique of the built environment of industrial society, they sourced and manipulated the direct sounds and experiences of that environment, and they questioned the spatial codes and possibilities of where music can be performed and consumed. In addition, the band utilised the tactics of embellishment and mythology, and the subsequent remembering of their performance at the Architectural Association has been subjected to this process. This paper, as a part of a wider body of research examining the live appearances of the band, explores their intent and assesses their success in creating a critical dialogue with architecture.
Chris Bailey (Plymouth College of Art) – ‘Imperfect Orchestra – A Battle Between Performance and Ethos’
A reflective case study of Imperfect Orchestra that explores the transition from “a bunch of punks making a film score” to an “ensemble of amateur musicians commissioned to produce contemporary performance art”, and the impact this has had on our methods of production, membership and ethos.
Imperfect Orchestra began as a tongue-in-cheek dig at class based notions of a traditional “Orchestra”. It began as a group of friends producing a Film soundtrack for live performance by Dr Allister Gall (Imperfect Cinema) in 2013. The process was socially anarchic: all members were instrumental in writing music that supported the development of that first score. Anyone who kind of played an instrument – and several who couldn’t – were invited to be a part of it.
Since then, we have worked with a range of artists, collaborators and commissioners, and have received thousands of pounds in funding. As the years have progressed and our work has increased in scope, our methods have evolved. Developmentally, we have become more proficient in working as a collective but the range of people who are involved has shrunk, the amount of ‘non-musicians’ involved has dwindled and we have begun to morph subtly into a legitimate “Orchestra” with classical instruments and notation.
So how does an organisation hell bent on using the word “orchestra” as a means of class-based subversion, end up fighting with itself to remain relevant and to justify its name and ethos as something “Imperfect”?
This case study would draw on material in our archive – available at www.imperfectorchestra.com
David Howcroft (No Audience Underground Tapes) – ‘The Manifesto’
David Howcroft the owner of N-aut (No Audience Underground Tapes) a diy cassette only label based in Northumberland that documents and archives the “no audience underground” scene in the Newcastle and Gateshead region presents a transformation from Morrison Blockader (41N-aut) to Tesco Blockader(93N-aut) addressing the statement ‘noise’ and the question whether ‘anyone can do it’.
This seminar will present ‘The Manifestio’ to attendees and create the environment for a Socratic discussion.
All welcome please bring with you your DeBono hats !