Monday, May 28, 2012

Odd Girl Out podcast 6

Further to my posts on Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism, my new podcast features interviews from the conference (Cathy Lane, Annie Goh, Helena Lopes Braga, and Laura Seddon) plus my meeting with Toronto's Abstract Random.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How does your garden grow?

Last night was the opening night of Bildwechsel's touring Garden programme, which featured the world premiere of my film, In Bloom. I had a little nostalgia walk as I headed over to Four Corners for the screening, noting which shopfronts had appeared since my last visit a few years before. At least the chippy is still in business.

On arriving at the venue to hand over my freshly burned copy of the film, I spotted a familiar face, that of Bildwechsel head Chris Regn, whom I'd met in Berlin in 2009. Since all my correspondence had been with Kate Henderson of Bildwechsel Glasgow, I hadn't realised that the various outposts were linking up for the programme, a pleasant surprise, and later I got reacquainted with Eva Kiezmann of Bildwechsel Berlin.

My film was on first, so I had none of the anticipatory nerves of last week. Instead I was the mystery starter for the wide-ranging programme, which featured entries from Canada and Germany, as well as the UK, in response to the call for submissions. I took no notes (for once!), but I particularly liked Gillian Steel's animation, as well as Lamathilde's multi-part piece. It was also bittersweet to see a film on the late, lamented Rosa Rose garden (now replanted elsewhere) bringing a little piece of grassroots Friedrichshain to East London.

What was also exciting for me was to chat to Super 8 experimentalist Bev Zalcock, the other attending filmmaker. I have only done one Super 8 film, and so it was great to chat to her about her practice making these films the hand-crafted way, adding dyes and so forth. Plus, she said she liked my film, and so I was chuffed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bildwechsel Garden Programme

Thursday sees the premiere of the Bildwechsel Garden Programme at East London's Four Corners.

I don't know the rest of the bill but I can say that my strange floral noir In Bloom will be having its world premiere on the day. Very exciting! I seem to be reliving my life this week, as I used to take film courses at Four Corners some years back, and lived around the corner.

Space is limited, so please email Bildwechsel if you would like to attend.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Sheet of conference logos; photo by Val Phoenix
AKA I finally get to unleash The Thing. So, yesterday was the conference I have been anticipating for some weeks now with great trepidation. German has a lovely word for my feeling: gespannt. Excited and anxious at the same time. Yes, I was truly gespannt.

As I rolled up to the London College of Communication just before 10 am, I spotted a familiar figure approaching. It was my old photojournalism tutor (at another institution) from some years back, a bit whiter of beard but still recognisable. We shook hands, chatted, he confirmed that his course has gone completely digital (a shame), and I bade him farewell and continued on my way, wondering at the omen. It was only later that I realised: a) he never had anything good to say about my work as a student and b) some of the very same photos I printed on his course were about to appear in my conference presentation. Ha!

Anyway... the conference was a whirlwind of speakers and an excellent veg lunch, but sadly devoid of any tea. Perhaps that is just as well, as I was so nervous. I was making far too many dashes for the loo as it was. I sat at the back and took restrained notes on the presentations, knowing mine was scheduled in the very last session of the day. My nerves had manifold causes. I was the only speaker who had neither an academic nor artistic background. I have never used Power Point or Pro Tools, the two applications on which I was relying. And, oh, I haven't done any public speaking since I entered an oratorical contest at 16. Which I did precisely to exorcise my fear of public speaking. I did win it, though.

Anyway... I was WAY outside my comfort zone on this little enterprise. And as I sat back and watched and listened, I tried to take in what people were saying, rather than worry over my own contribution. As one of the organisers had said the night before (during a mammoth 3-hour soundcheck), it was meant to be informal and non-competitive, a chance to share ideas and build a network of researchers working in the areas of the title.

So, obviously, terribly exciting for me to participate in and meet like-minded folk. They had come from as far as Melbourne, with a smattering of Europeans and the odd North American. And the styles varied from verbatim reading from a prepared text to showing film clips. What really surprised me was that, given that it was run by a sound art organisation (CRiSAP), how little use was made of the medium of sound art. I had expected the sound artists to really go to town in being experimental. But they were very restrained. I was actually the only contributor who made use of the eight channels on offer. Now, that's weird.

The second weird thing was I ended up closing the programme. A headlining gig! (OK, I don't think conferences have headliners, but I'm claiming it.) At the last break, just when I was heading into that last furlong of "OK, there are two speakers to go and then I can be released from my self-made anxiety prison", I was told that it would be better to swop me over to the last slot, because the computers had to be moved. OK, I said. What was another twenty minutes? I'd already waited six hours.

So, I closed the show with my 22-years-in-the-making presentation on the idea of creativity as a form of self defence, as told through interview clips with: Viv Albertine, Hanin Elias, Tribe 8, Kleenex, Kathleen Hanna, Lee Beattie, Philippa Nielsen and Manon Duursma. A small selection of brainy gals, illustrated by black and white photos, most of which I had also taken. So, it felt very DIY, in keeping with the themes of the day. I had a few technical flubs, but it felt great operating the faders and advancing the slides, though I never got to actually sit and hear the eight channels flooding the room with sound or see the slides on the big screen behind me. Someone told me it worked really well, though, and I was so proud and relieved when I stepped back. I couldn't relax, though, because there was a Q&A (another first for me) to cap it off.

It was an amazing buzz and I am so pleased I got to participate. I didn't meet a whole lot of other people, as I was running around preparing during the day, but I did have a few chats with attendees and speakers and finally got to meet Caro Snatch, whom I'd interviewed via Skype for my podcast. She spoke on studio recording techniques undermining women's voices, which I found quite illuminating. I also met Annie Goh, who did a great demonstration of echo and reverb, referring to the myths of Echo and Narcissus. And I finished the day by chatting to researcher/journalist Theresa Beyer about German-language hip-hop.

I really hope something comes of the event, in terms of linking disparate areas and approaches to research in sound and gender. I definitely want to find out more about the Her Noise archive, which has just moved to LCC.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Thing Revealed

So, now that I have uploaded the info, I can reveal that I shall be making my Power Point debut at a conference this week in London.

SOUND::GENDER::FEMINISM::ACTIVISM is an all-day event at the London College of Communication and puts me in formidable company.

It will be interesting for me, as it is positioned very much as an academic research event, and my research and practice are completely removed from that sphere. Amusingly, I am in the last session of the day, titled Sexing the Groove, which happens to be a book in which I appear as a reference, so I guess the shoe fits.

What does please me immensely is to finally take some of my myriad interviews and present them as sound to a live audience. I have been bustling along, learning about multi-channel installations (and Power Point), and while my presentation is by no means super-finessed, I think it should stand on its content.  Hurrah.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Gossip: A Joyful Noise

Just listening to the stream of of the latest Gossip album, A Joyful Noise, via the Guardian website and first impressions are not good. Intrigued by Beth's comment she has been listening to a lot of ABBA, I clicked on the first track and was met by bland, tuneless flannel. And on it went. Only "Get a Job" seemed to have some melody. The rest were over-produced and characterless. What has happened to this band?