The Sonic Tuck Shop Book at SoundFjord – EDITED

On Friday I put the finishing touches on the first 21 editions (of 40) of The Sonic Tuck Shop book. On Saturday, I packed them all into a suitcase along with some other hand-made goodies and made my way to Seven Sisters for the SoundFjord gallery launch, which was taking place in Unit 3b, Studio 28, 28 Lawrence Road. I was very happy to showcase The Sonic Tuck Shop there as part of the launch, and even happier to meet up with many people who – so far – I’ve only known online. Many people involved in the Tapespondence project were there and I was reminded that I need to get that tape back up and out into the world again as everyone who contributed to the original tape had good things to say about it.* I had a great time talking to Adam Asnan, Simon Whetham**, Joseph Young and Martin Clarke, and it was also brilliant to see Martin and Lucia again, who collaborated on the Sonic Wallpaper feature in the ROOMS & CHAMBERS episode of The Domestic Soundscape Cut and Splice Podcast series. I particularly enjoyed their mimosa | moize performance at the SoundFjord launch. They used a lot of soft and delicate sonic textures and mixed them in a very sensitive way; it was like a sound-collage made from electric feathers and a trace of it has stayed with me, like a temporary transfer tattoo; all filmy and light and detailed.

I also found the configuration of their performance oddly compelling. Normally I dislike the spectacle of someone twiddling about on a laptop as a performance format, but there was something very engaging about the way these two sat opposite each other, weaving a mix together through their computers. During their performance they were very still, both staring intently ahead into their screens and making only the slightest of movements with the mousepads to generate this very subtle, shared soundscape. The way they sat and communicated through all those electronic circuits reminded me of our very human use of computers and how many connections we make across cyberspace through this interface. In their hands the laptop becomes a delicate instrument, a thing we use for talking to each other in many languages. Sometimes even a language of sweepy, electronic shufflings. I really liked it. Here they are, setting up. I was too transfixed during the performance to photograph it.

There were 2 other performances throughout the afternoon and in between listening to these, I spent a lot of time explaining to people what The Sonic Tuck Shop book is all about. One of the main reasons for making this book – and embarking on the whole Sonic Tuck Shop endeavour -  is that I wanted a way of working with everyday sounds beyond recording them or delivering an electronic, amplified performance featuring recordings. I love working in these ways, but I am also interested in developing forms which can direct listening and change our imaginative relationship with sounds as they naturally occur in the world around us. I also wanted to find forms for celebrating everyday sounds which could be used beyond gallery spaces… such as in the context of shopping at the supermarket, or preparing a meal. Given that this was a Sound Gallery Launch, I think people were a little bit by this unexpected approach to exploring the soundscape. Even experimental areas of artmaking have conventions, and I think my paper and object based approach was bemusing to people who had come along expecting mostly to hear a lot of live, electronic sound-manipulation and to maybe see some CDs for sale. Ididn’t sell any copies of my book, but the complimentary items that I was giving away in celebration of both the book launch and the gallery launch were enthusiastically received by those who got into the idea of The Sonic Tuck Shop.

I felt SoundFjord were especially supportive of the whole concept of The Sonic Tuck Shop and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to be part of the launch of this exciting new venture by Helen Frosi and Andrew Riley. It is really great that a gallery space dedicated to sound is opening in London. According to the SoundFjord website;

SoundFjord is here, not only to showcase and to document new trends in methodology and research, but also to insist on the creation of works that not only stimulate the concerned listener in a novel and inventive way, but similarly, in a refined, deft and probing manner

As part of the gallery’s progressive and universally receptive stance on the essence of what sound art is and can be, SoundFjord seeks to nurture and develop artists whose work shows its own vision, but equally questions itself and the world around it. Indeed, the gallery wishes to be seen as a place to highlight what is challenging in the sound art world

SoundFjord presents itself as a hub for research and networking events, as an occasional venue for live performance within the field of experimental music and sound art performance, as host to lectures, workshops, talks and critiques in and around sound art practice and the art world in its entirety, and also as a collaborative force, motivated to work with other inspired individuals, collectives, galleries, venues, recording labels, institutions and foundations to assist with the materialisation of creative ventures, projects and events

If Saturday’s launch was anything to go by, then we can look forward to much more experimentation and sonic delectation emanating from Lawrence Road. I really enjoyed seeing and being in the space, being able to put so many faces to names and sounds, and to present The Sonic Tuck Shop in another context.

I gave away quite a few sonic hangover cures and letter-press-print-wrapped-apples were a big hit once people understood what they were. I letter-press printed some white tissue paper with the word CRUNCH in several typefaces, at different sizes. The idea was inspired by those wrappers that are sometimes used on apples or oranges and I wanted to visually/linguistically draw attention to both the sound of biting an apple, and the sonic qualities of tissue paper itself. I thoroughly enjoyed unwrapping the apples repeatedly to demonstrate this idea to Sonic Tuck Shop visitors and many people seemed to enjoy the spectacle of the unwrapped print. However one person wanted to take the apple only and leave the wrapper behind… no matter, as another Sonic Tuck enthusiast was very happy to take it in his place!

I love these wrappers in all their physicality; I love the shiny green ink, the meta-data aspect of them, the way they do actually CRUNCH as paper objects, and the fact that they have dual imaginative/practical dimensions. However I am not certain yet that I have found the correct way of displaying them and – like so many of my ideas – they raise further questions of context and audience for me to puzzle out in my thesis.

I also distributed a fair few Sonic Tuck Shop shopping lists, (to help you to select your foodstuffs according to their sonic qualities) and a whole load of ‘Genuine Installation Pieces’ packs. I was sad when I took down The Sonic Tuck Shop installation in Reading on Tuesdayand I decided it should be parcelled out as small packs that people could use to create Sonic Tuck Shop installations in their own homes, should they wish to.

Each pack contains a postcard with an image of the installation in situ and a load of handprinted items from the actual installation itself. I like the idea that people can go away and pin this on a noteboard somewhere, or maybe stick a giant, fluorescent POP on their toaster. At the very least, the idea of emblazoning sound-effects on one’s kitchen is hopefully both fun and accessible.

I also hope that people will go away with The Sonic Tuck Shop shopping list and start mischieviously buying food according to the way it sounds; I also hope that people who read The Sonic Tuck Shop book will find themselves at the market inspecting the cabbages, and then hear a particularly squeaky one and remember the earnest instruction to select one’s cabbages based solely on their squeaking powers; And I hope that at least one person with a hangover will take a little humourous comfort from the noise of their dissolving Alka-Seltzer, which I hand-packed with instructions to ‘allow the sound of this tablet fizzing to gently soothe away your hangover.’

It is always difficult to tell how good my work really is when I am at a gallery, presenting it to the public, attempting to explain myself, and trying to gauge whether people think it is amazing or pure shite. But I feel it is important to keep making my work anyway, to keep putting it out there, to keep earnestly hammering my ideas into shape, and to constantly review the gap between what I think the work is about and the way that people respond to it. That is why today I ventured forth again with my Sonic Tuck Shop – this time to the Oakford Social Club’s Sunday Art Market – to present the concept in a different context.

One person was rather intrigued by the Sonic Tuck Shop shopping list and took a copy  away with him; Martin also seemed happy with the copy of the book plus ‘Genuine Installation Pieces’ pack that I gave him in thanks for all the help he gave me during the installation in the shop window back in June, and several people commented favourably on how they remembered the shop-window installation, and how it had brightened their walk in that part of the town. One person even sounded sad that it has now been taken down. I am not glad to have been instrumental in creating any sadness in this town, but it is encouraging to learn that The Sonic Tuck Shop installation will be missed!

Postcard featuring now finished Sonic Tuck Shop window installation in Reading, Summer 2010.

However, my favourite Sonic Tuck Shop anecdote so far involves my chemist and an exchange we had on Friday when I went in and asked him for his biggest box of Alka Seltzers;

‘Do you have a big weekend planned?’ he enquired, to which I replied ‘well actually, no… it’s for an art project. I’m doing a thing all about the sounds of different edible/ingestible items and I especially like the fizzy noise that Alka-Seltzers make when you dissolve them in water. I’m going to repackage them to draw attention to this aspect of them.’

My chemist laughed at this and apologised for having assumed me to be a wild drunkard.

In that instance at least I feel my intentions for The Sonic Tuck Shop reached another person in fun, mischief, celebration, and playfulness… which hopefully means that I am getting somewhere with this idea.

*Incidentally, I recently found this article – The Paris Tape Run – which details a spin-off project that was inspired by the Tapespondence!

**Simon Whetham is one of the artists who is going to perform at the Sound:Site conference I am currently working on with Martin Franklin, at South Hill Park, and you can hear us both talking in this episode of the Genepool podcast about that forthcoming event and about our work!

3 Responses to The Sonic Tuck Shop Book at SoundFjord – EDITED

  1. joe stevens says:

    Felix, great to hear you discuss the complex issue of the worth of your work. Like you i feel that the opportunities of presenting work to the public and trying to gauge their reaction is hard, but invaluable. it is difficult to keep on working at something unsure of its greater worth, but i can say i find your work interesting and regreat not being able to catch you at the opening.

    As usual a thoughfull and thought provoking post. Good luck with tieing all the ends together & keep on putting the work out there.
    all the best
    joe

  2. Pingback: Soundfjord Auricular feat. SARU practitioner Felicity Ford | SARU – Sonic Art Research Unit

  3. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Archive » Sound Objects at the Old Fire Station in Oxford

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