From Silence to Ghosts

May 2008


Silence has been uppermost in my mind and body for the last month, since this never-ending alien virus transformed into viral laryngitis, which meant no speaking for 10 days at my doctor’s advice, which of course was near impossible. Ironically it vaguely and aptly returned just in time for me to chair a talk with Brian Eno at the Royal Academy relating to the very ideas of silence and architecture, featuring artist Tom Philips performing John Cage’s silent work 4’33” on a toy piano. Stranger still was that my dinner companion, the British Sculptor Emily Young , aka "the psychedelic schoolgirl" turned out to be the inspiration for Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play (1967).

I began April as a President, if only temporarily, at the Qwartz Music Awards, set in the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione in Paris. An incredible location, the circus itself is an oval building, like a miniature indoor Coliseum, originally built for Napoleon III. This time no horses, no high wire acts, just over 2000 people enjoying the splendor of electronic music and my terrible humour as I gave out various awards to the winners.


Immediately then onto Geneva for the Mapping Festival to present an early viewing of The Nature of Being, a film work with artist Olga Mink, which surprisingly was received very emotionally with several audience members weeping at the melancholic and sensitive imagery and audio. A picturesque journey across land by train to Paris followed, for a presentation of Mariam the ballet with Christine Bastin, and a performance with Tez of our cinematic piece Blindscape. Tez recently produced the (of) CAPSULE, a sort of personal audiovisual space, which allows the diffusion of spatialized and tactile sound for the audience in a very unique manner. My work will be presented within this futuristic looking alien pod this month at the Elektra Festival in Montreal, and hopefully then around the globe in the years to follow.

Continuing the visual theme this month I’ll be presenting more of my visual works and collaborations with filmmakers at the British Film Institute (BFI) in London as part of Sonic Illuminations: Exploring Sound and Moving Image on 10th May. It’s part of an entire day exploring sound and moving image, through workshops, panel discussions, live events and screenings, with other guests including Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger introducing his film 'The Lark Ascending,’ Jon Wozencroft of Touch, Jayne Parker & Anton Lukoszevieze, Conor Kelly and David Ryan. I’ll be presenting rare film works and some exclusive footage.


If you can turn away from the television screen for a moment you might enjoy reading an extensive interview with yours truly at Digicult, written by Marco Mancuso for Issue 31. Digicult is an extraordinary resource for digital arts, festivals, and work that I would recommend take a thorough read through. Then again if words are just too, well, ‘wordy’ then you can always watch an interview artist Tez and I after our Blindscape performance recently in Paris for the Nemo Festival.

Stepping over into the art world for a moment, Popshop is closing this month at MU gallery in Eindhoven but there’s now an interview so you can understand a little more about the show, and if you look carefully you can also see a link to freely download a 40 minute performance with D-Fuse on the same page.

However, as one show closes, another opens and I’ll be showing work at Waves - The Art of the Electromagnetic Society exhibition in Dortmund, Germany, at the Phoenix Hall, a 2200 square metre former steel production plant. Curated by Armin Medosch, Rasa Smite, Raitis Smits (both from RIXC) and Inke Arns (HMKV) it’s a collaboration with Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV) in the context of the festival "Scene: Österreich", a festival of Austrian art and culture. Originally displayed at RIXC in Riga, this exhibition was conceived as looking at electromagnetic waves as the principle material - the medium - of media art. The WAVES exhibition itself brings together about 40 international works of (media) art by 70 artists from 18 different countries, in which electromagnetic waves are seen not just as carriers of information, but as the material and/or theme of the artwork. I’m showing Breakthrough, a work that uses recordings of ghosts at my family’s house, alongside works by Anthony McCall, Paul de Marinis, Marko Peljhan, Radioqualia, Farmersmanual, Jacob Kirkegaard, and many others.


I have also just uploaded onto my site an exclusive live recording of the Retuning Stockhausen piece commissioned by SPNM in March 2008 for their tribute event to the late composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was my admittedly terrifying first ever solo guitar performance with electronics, but doesn’t sound quite so frightful listening back afterwards.

As a Gemini this is my birthday month, which as always I share with poet Simon Armitage and singer Lenny Kravitz. So think of us all on the 146th day of the year and sing a little merry tune to us.

So until next time, older and hopefully just a little bit wiser.



::: listen :::

Robert Ashley: Tap Dancing in the Sand (nsounds)
Gavin Bryars: Hommages (LTMCD)
The Evens: Get Even (Dischord)
Jack Dangers: Music for Planetarium (Brainwashed)

::: read :::
Mark Ravenhill: Shot/Great Treasure/Repeat (Methuen)
Juan Munoz: A Retrospective (Tate)
Paul Morley: Joy Division, Piece by Piece (Plexus)
Tarkovsky: Nathan Dunne (Black Dog)

::: film:::
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Sidney Lumet, USA
The Orphanage, Juan Antonio Bayona, Mexico
21, Robert Luketic. USA
Happy-Go-Lucky, Micke Leigh, UK

::: diary dates :::

03 May-May Ball Belfast N.Ireland
10 May-Sonic Illuminations- BFI London UK
12 June-Blindscape Maribor SI
13 June-Live Purcell Room London UK
27 June-Performance & talk Sguardi Sonori Rome IT
05 July-Big Dance Day Derby UK
12 July-Derby Spectacle Derby UK
02 Aug-BBC Proms talk on Stockhausen London UK
13 Sept-Deloitte Ignite Royal Opera House London UK
18-19 Sept-Presentation Bergen National Academy of Arts NO
03 Oct-Merce Cunningham Talk Barbican London UK
30 Oct-2 Nov-Imageradio Eindhoven NL
07 Nov-Gaida Festival Vilnius LT
18-20 Nov-Presentation Virginia Commonwealth University USA

13 Feb-The Missing with Troy Barnarzi Somerset House London UK
26 March-Derby dance premiere of new work UK


MU Gallery
Eindhoven NL

28 March - 04 May 2008

Group show of work that looks at the icons of mass culture in pop music, debuting Soul in Reverse, a new video work by Scanner that explores the image of Michael Jackson in popular culture, reversing his public image so that he begins as a white soul singer and ends up as a black artist. Other artists include Kathy Temin, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, Cory Arcangel, Ho Tzu Nyen.


Waves-The Art of the Electromagnetic Society
Phoenix Halle Dortmund

10 May – 29 June 2008

Wireless communication is, in this day and age, a given in all realms of society. Yet what manner of artistic potential is presented by the electromagnetic waves perpetually enveloping us today? And how might these influence our psyche?

The exhibition brings together works of (media) art that deal with properties of waves in imaginative ways, exploring, making visible or making us feel waves on a host of different bands of the spectrum. In this exhibition electromagnetic waves are not just seen as carriers of information, but as the material and/or theme of the artwork. Featuring Breakthrough by Scanner, and works by Anthony McCall, Paul de Marinis, Marko Peljhan, Radioqualia, Farmersmanual, Jacob Kirkegaard and many others.


Night Haunts

By Sukhdev Sandhu
Design Mind Unit
Sound Design Scanner

Artangel Interaction invited writer and historian Sukhdev Sandhu to write a nocturnal journal unfolding over the course of 2006. His postings will appear sequentially at this microsite specially designed by Mind Unit. Sandhu's forays see him prospecting in the London night with the people who drive its pulse, from the avian police to security guards, zookeepers and exorcists. Acclaimed artist and musician Scanner has collaborated with Sukhdev and Ian Budden of Mind Unit to compose the sound for the site.


Bittersweet Songs for the Sleepless City
Artangel Interaction

NightJam is the latest project in Artangel Interaction’s Nights of London series of artist-led collaborations with people who have a special view on a hidden side of the nocturnal city. Scanner invited young people at New Horizon Youth Centre in King’s Cross to collaborate on a creative project that expresses how the city at night looks and sounds to their ears and eyes. Through music and voice workshops they explored the sense of freedom and fear, celebration and solitude of the concealing darkness. Meanwhile, they captured their nights on disposable cameras, taking images that are at times eerie, startling, contemplative and funny. NightJam presents two elusive visual and musical journeys through the city’s ‘quiet’ hours.

NightJam presents two music tracks, a film, photographs, that can be experienced and freely downloaded. A limited edition CD is also being distributed for free through the website. Now featuring remixes of NightJam by Stephen Vitiello, Hakan Lidbo, Troy Banarzi, Si-cut.db and Pete Lockett.