Mythologies’ Interwoven Extremities
Robert Boyle Lecture Theatre
Clive Henry (Independent scholar, Southampton) – ‘Modern HNW is Rubbish’
Harsh Noise Wall (HNW) has a history of being scorned by the wider noise genre, often derided as being lazy, skill-less, and utterly homogeneous. The paper’s title references an album by the pop band Blur, states that HNW is rubbish, and further states that modern HNW is rubbish; these are the paper’s key themes. It will explore HNW’s relationship with a trash/pop music disposability (and broader pop music sensibility), discuss how HNW-ers have seen this relationship, and how HNW has been viewed in terms of ‘high’/‘low’/anti-art. The paper will also address the fundamental evolution of the HNW scene from a small, dedicated, elitist community based around one online forum, to its contemporaneous form as a sprawling, Facebook- and Bandcamp-driven scene where ‘anyone can do it,’ with little sense of shared values or community; this will address ‘anyone can do it’ in terms of musicianship but also the early HNW conception of ‘obsession.’ I would ideally like to include a short ‘challenge’ pitting myself against an non-HNW-er in the construction of walls, hopefully to prove that ‘anyone can do it’ is too simplistic an accusation! The paper will be based on my long involvement in the HNW scene, and research previously carried out for an HNW chapter in Fight Your Own War (Headpress, 2016).
Tom Cardwell (Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL) & Mark Gubb (University of Worcester) – ‘“Hiraeth” – a collaborative project’
This paper will present the ideas behind ‘Hiraeth’, a collaborative artwork currently in development by S. Mark Gubb and Tom Cardwell, which proposes an album and performance for an invented Black Metal band. ‘Hiraeth’ is an untranslatable Welsh word that describes a sense of longing for home.
The album will comprise of songs based on a series of Welsh, pre-Christian, tales called ‘The Mabinogion’. First compiled in the C12th-13th, they are the source of much Welsh folklore and, for many years, were never written down, being passed on through the oral tradition of the bards. For the artists, this relates to the fiercely underground early Black Metal scene – a scene remarkable for its conscious adoption of noise and lo-fi recordings – and how it was developed through word-of-mouth and fan-to-fan exchanges. It also places this Celtic mythology in a relationship with the Norse mythology so often referenced in the lyrics and ideologies of early exponents of Black Metal.
It is envisaged that the completed project will centre around a live performance of the album, complete with stage costumes and sets, as well as further visual outcomes including record sleeves, patches, etc. which will subsequently be shown in an exhibition context.
In specific relation to the conference theme, we also draw influence from Hugh Lupton’s historical fiction ‘The Assembly of the Severed Head’; a fictitious account of the first transcription of the tales by monks and their transgression of the, by then, dominant Christian moral position.
Both Gubb and Cardwell share a research interest in art practice that responds to metal and punk subcultures. Previous projects include ‘Metal Militia’ a live music performance at Berwick Visual Arts (Gubb) and ‘Still Life and Death Metal’ a battle jacket research project (Cardwell).