Reviewing Post Sign / Clock 2 in the Quietus, Richard Foster refers to you as the most contradictory of artists, indicating that over 30 years you’ve made some “joyously simple, affirmative and forward thinking music that nevertheless seems to trigger endless discussions and reinterpretation”. Foster then refers to the mystery surrounding some of your work. Indeed, your output as TAGC, has always had a conceptual basis to it, but to me, at least, even some of the most complex ideas behind some of the works can be easily unpacked, enabling one to experience both the music and the visuals on a purely physical level. Do you see TAGC as deliberately operating on different levels?
Yes, I can understand Richard’s view point and also that beyond some of the complex ideas, the sound or visual can be appreciated on a purely aesthetic and intuitive level, I think this is important as I believe that individual interpretation and intuition is an important and vital element. As Bergson wrote in 1912,
An absolute can only be given in an intuition, while all the rest has to do with analysis. We call intuition here the sympathy by which one is transported into the interior of an object in order to coincide with what there is unique and consequently inexpressible in it. Analysis, on the contrary, is the operation which reduces the object to elements already known.
I think the point of music / or visual art in the end is that it must be felt through audition or viewed and it’s a well known fact that certain combinations of notes or tones / frequencies or rhythmic structures, colours or optical patterns, forms, etc can entrain and stimulate the brain and affect us psycho-physiologically as well as psychologically. There is also research that has shown that there is a sub atomic level of information that the unconscious mind receives that determines our individual appreciation or intuitive reaction and feeling. Individuals tune in to this and it determines their interpretation, the empathic appreciation or non appreciation.
Albert Camus said,
Truly fertile music, the only kind that will move us, that we shall truly appreciate, will be a music conducive to dream, which banishes all reason and analysis. One must not wish first to understand and then to feel. Art does not tolerate reason.
The open framework of The Anti Group was designed to allow for the possibility of any kind of instrumentation or technique / technology or personnel, in order to create a multilevel of possibilities. In this sense, it is open to radical change / format and media in which to create. Over the years, The Anti Group have performed in a number of contexts and with varying instrumentation according to the conceptual needs of the sound, and concept related to the project at that given time.
Digitaria, for instance, involved an ensemble of nine musicians, as the project’s audio was based on acoustics and electronics as well as field recordings and tape composition and manipulation. Also, with the use of ambisonics, the Calrec Soundfield tetrahedral microphone can capture the physical direction in a 360 degree arena, and therefore the psychoacoustic information, which means that there’s a physical movement of sound that’s also captured.
The first 2 Meontological recordings series involved the use of Beat Frequency oscillators and signal field generators and pure electronics and computer controlled sequencing, so there were only 2 of us involved. At the recent Cafe Oto event it was just myself, so there is a flexibility that can be implemented. Currently, there is a central core of myself, and TeZ Maurizio Martinucci, an Italian interdisciplinary sound artist and producer, and Shara E. Vasylenko, a sound artist and painter. We also have collaborative / connections to other artists and scientists who are aiding with research and development of projects, so there is an open and expansive connectivity in our approach to creativity.
One of the remits of TAGC is to expand consciousness, and gain a deeper understanding of the self. What would you say were the most important things you’ve learnt about yourself through your TAGC research?
The importance of intuition and imagination, also an open mind which is a fundamental of ZaZen thinking exemplified by the master Shunryu Suzuki. Remaining experimental in approaches to making art / music and learning, also towards techniques, and that there are no borders on what can be utilised. Technique is only a means to arrive at a point, as Jackson Pollack said, and I totally agree. Also, I think, through research there is a discovery of further connections and the connection to other individuals that leads to a deeper and more expansive understanding, therefore this leads to a continuous development of connectivity and understanding. One must be continually learning following one’s interests. In any case, interest is the mainspring of learning, as the educationalist Francisco Ferrer of the Modern School proclaimed at the start of the 1900s, and as the pioneering educationalist A S Neill maintained, it is the fundamental basis on which learning is based.
I also understand more clearly now, that through time and reflection, the interests that one has at a early age are more fully understood and expanded upon through the years, as further connections and correlations are made, which leads to new appraisals and further exploration.
If all meanings could be adequately expressed by words, the arts of painting and music would not exist. (DEWEY 1930)
Each artist needs to find their own personal technical set-up in order to find their own voice. If I’m not mistaken, you’ve started off your musical journey with EMS synthesizer and processors and reel to reels, and over the years you have built your own studio combining both analogue and digital instruments. What is your current studio set-up and how do you translate that into a live context when performing?
I came to music / sound by chance as I’m a Painter foremost, but I was aware of experimental music at an early age, particularly the work of Ilhan Mimaroglu, Luciano Berio, John Cage, Earle Brown, Wendy Carlos, The Radiophonic Workshop et al and of their use of magnetic tape in composition. So, that was something I had been experimenting with myself, when I became involved in the formation of the electronic trio THE FUTURE and it was a direction I gravitated towards. Eventually, the advancement and the use of computers and their use in the manipulation of sound was a natural progression for myself as a artist interested in the nature of sound and its advancement. The computer gave me many ways in which to organise sound and control it. So computer systems Mac & PC are central to my tools of organisation of sound and visuals. My programs of choice are Logic, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Audition and a number of external analog and digital instruments and keyboards including the EMS, I got back in the late 70s. For live use that depends on the particular project, but for the Meon Cube, I’ve been using a mac based synthesis program system controlled by midi keyboard.
TAGC is mostly about research and with that comes experimentation. Is there anything over the years that you felt you weren’t quite able to achieve, or that you wished you could’ve developed further, but didn’t have the technology or the resources to do so?
Yes, as there is always more one can do with addition resources. It’s often the lack of financial resource that is an inhibiter to development, but sometimes constrains can be overcome by desire and the origination of other methods or techniques and original solutions can overcome those restrictions.
We are working now on a way of evolving and expanding the possible range of the physical material release by linking it to an evolving system that we are developing. The CDVA usb smart card CLOCK2 was a tentative attempt to do this, but we are developing a far more sophisticated system that will be far more expansive. We are working with a friend and colleague in the US, Professor David Fries, who is part of a new cybernetic research group based on developing the advancement of the Human / Machine interface. We are also researching bio communications, and conducting research and experimental procedures based on scientific criteria to show repeatable experiments and validate conclusions. These projects are based on scientific development and require funding, so we are currently raising funds for these projects. So yes, to answer your initial question, finance is an important key to further development, but without imagination, ideas and desire, then money is only a material resource.
One of the most recent TAGC projects is the Cube, could you illustrate how this works and what place it occupies in the development of TAGC?
The TAGC CUBE is a site specific event and acts as a means of focus and expansion of the audio and visual, rather than a focus on the performer, although the sense of spirit of live performance is also maintained and can be felt, as the cube is a semi transparent object with the size and dimension of a room. So, at times, the viewer can glimpse through to see the Anti Group members within. Also, because of the way it is designed as a 360 degree visual and audio field, it can be viewed from different angles, which allows a montage of the visualisations and patterns due to the semi transparency as the images pass through. So the cube acts as a way to further abstract the images allowing for a continual variation. It is a 3 dimensional canvas, a way in which to expand visual ideas and to enhance the experience in a live context. It is also a further development to the concept of moving away from the performer as a point of focus, such as “The Discussion” a TAGC anti theatre piece from 1985.
The use of ambisonics, a 360 degree sound field, which we employed on the recording and conceptual audio of the album DIGITARIA in 1985, is also another way of expanding and creating a more expansive environment, and also a more natural form of audio, as we perceive sound naturally in periphony. Over the years the technology of this technique has been developed, and we now use a program developed by TeZ Maurizio Martinucci, one of the central collaborators within TAGC ,and we are currently looking at decoding the original Digitaria UHJ encoded recordings to create a new ambisonic master. The Meontological Research Recording 3 is also an ambisonic recording.
With so much material accumulated over the course of 30 odd years, the re-issue and distribution of the early stuff, as well as more recent material, must sometimes feel like a full time job, especially considering the care and attention you give to the production of physical artefacts. Would it not be tempting just to do digital releases so that you can concentrate on new material?
As a painter for me there is an importance with the physical object / craft and the tradition of making art, painting, sculpture etc. And that makes for a longevity of work and a continuation of its meaning and its appreciating and understanding. I think it is even more important in this new age of digital and virtual systems to create a material representation of ideas. Digital technology, such as DVD / CD / Solid state, Hard Disc, can be corrupted and lost, whereas analog records from a century ago can still be played. I was taking to a friend the other day about this very thing and we both agreed there is a need to find new ways of archiving. A recent development is the M Disc, which uses an organic material to encode data and can, according to its creators, last a 1000 years.
I am currently working on a recording and research project with a friend of mine Michael Esposito, one of the foremost experts on EVP, and he has a lot of experience and work in this field. We are investigating ideas concerned with the possibility of information stored and released / replayed, if you will, in numerous naturally occurring materials, such as stone and in man made and naturally occurring structures. There are a lot of areas within the realms of magnetic resonance and frequency we are still discovering.
The Schumann waves named after German Professor W.O Schumann were discovered in 1952. The Schumann waves are a result of the Schumann resonance, a frequency resonation of about 8 Hertz that occurs between upper layers in the atmosphere and the Earth’s crust. It is called Gaia’s heartbeat.
The Schumann resonance is somehow related to human consciousness, since brainwaves operate in a frequency domain that includes the 8-Hertz Schumann frequency. Spacecraft of NASA are all equipped with a device that simulates the natural Schumann resonance frequency. From early space travel NASA learned that astronauts get disoriented and distressed when they are shut off from the Schumann resonance. As human beings we depend on it. Daniel Winter demonstrated that trees in a forest act like huge antennae that pick up the Schumann frequency and amplify it. When connected to a recording device, he noticed that brainwaves and heartbeats had become coherent with the Schumann resonance of the Earth!
Winter believes that all biological life depends on the Schumann resonance as the carrier wave, the long Phi wave to braid electromagnetic Golden waves. Humans can link up to biology and to the Earth itself for that matter. The heartbeat of this planet is the Schumann resonance. It may be the explanation why a walk in the woods is so refreshing and why people like to spend time in nature. Being completely shut off from the Schumann resonance on high altitudes in a plane where the fuselage acts like a big Faraday cage. This is now believed to contribute to the effects of a jetlag.
Recent experiments in quantum physics by Physicists at the Australian national University have now been able to find even more evidence for the illusory nature of our reality. They went on to create an experiment called the John Wheeler’s delayed-choice, and with the findings of this experiment the physicists were able to determine that our reality really doesn’t exist until it is measured, at least on the atomic scale of things.
When you begin to think about it, humankind left a record of their ideas and spiritual beliefs and science and art in numerous forms, such as stone, engraving, sculpture, architecture, painting, song, writing, rituals, that still survives. It is that need to externalise and express something beyond that, in itself, is transcendental. So, it leads on that this tradition is maintained and furthered and new ways of expression are developed, extended, a technology of consciousness. So, what I’m trying to illuminate is that there is a deep and ancient desire to materialise and transmit the quintessence, and that quest continues.
What are you currently working on and what future releases can we expect from TAGC?
I am currently compiling and editing the Meontological Research Recordings 1/2 Book & CD ROM 1985/6, which will be the complete research and recordings and visuals from these two projects, along with additional recordings and video pieces that where un-released at that time. It will include a number of unreleased pieces that I premiered recently at Mark Fell’s Reality Check event at the Cafe OTO in Dec 2015. Also, we are finalising the post-production audio for the Meontological Research Recording 3. Transmission from the Trans-Yoggothian Broadcast Station. Book & CD ROM 2012.
This project researched areas of outsider science and pataphysical ideas derived from Alfred Jarry, and some of the ideas expressed in the pioneering work on bio-communications by Professor L G Lawrence. The piece Yoggothian Transmission Wavelength 10 40 56, is based on the actual biological radio transmission recordings that he made in the Mojave Dessert. The Micheal Bertiaux piece is the track Meontographical Cartography. That piece is a direct collaborative film / audio piece based on the original paintings and drawings by Micheal Bertaux, exclusively from his work from Vudu Cartography on (Fulger Press) and from his older works, and also paintings and drawings by Alfred Jarry. The Denizens is based on Kenneth Grant’s Cult of Lam, while The Third Beam of Hearing is based around events and writings by Jack Whiteside Marvel Parsons & Marjorie Cameron. The Barry William Hale piece Teratological Pataphysical & Meontological Experiment BWH 49 is based around Legion 49 and teratological and pataphysical concepts. The other pieces follow other connections and concepts relating to the above and each audio piece is synchronized to a visual invocation. The Book is a collection of essays / research articles that relate directly to each piece. The recordings use actual biological radio recordings and Earth radio transmissions & ELF information. Films employ multiple montage, paintings drawings, archival footage and image manipulation. The audio is ambisonic.
I have also been working on a new project for the last couple of years based around experimental sensory perception focusing on work pioneered by John C Lilly, the famous neuropsychiatrist who developed flotation tanks in the 1950s as a way of researching how the brain functions when starved of external stimuli. I am also drawing on the work of Prof Jack Vernon, and his work at Princeton in The Black Box on S D and with sensory isolation tanks in the late 50s early 60s, and on the work of C Maxwell Cade and Nona Coxhead and their work with bio-feedback and mind mirrors. I am planning to release the documented and audio results in the coming year, title TBA.
As well as the above, I’m working on new paintings and a new CDVA album and will be doing a number of live shows throughout 2016, so I’m pretty busy all in all.
- Photo credit: Marcus Moonen