extract from Janek Schaefer: Sound Art

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This short clip comes from the opening night of Janek Schaefer’s SOUND ART exhibition at http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk . It features sound and images from his work Extended Play a quite hypnotising and moving work which is sub titled Triptych for the Child Survivors of War and Conflict. The work consists of a piano, violin and cello each recorded onto vinyl. But rather than played simultaneously – from A to B as usual – each trurntables speed, moments of pause and play is controlled by the traffic of people in the gallery. The resulting random but controlled sound is both beautiful and moving – particularly when you come to understand the context and sub title of the piece.

If all that the exhibition offered was Extended Play you would not feel short changed. However there is much more. Other more playful works represented here include Recorded Delivery ( a recording of the fragmented noises of a sound activated dictaphone travelling overnight through the Post Office) and a work involving a turntable whose ‘arm’ is held above the record player with a helium baloon allowing the watcher to randomly play the vinyl below. I could have happily spent hours with this!

The newly commissioned work National Portrait (the last submission) didn’t quite have the impact of some of the earlier works. The work celebrates the last 24 hours of analogue television broadcast across Liverpool by randomly playing extracts across a series of TV screens. With analogue switch off sweeping across the UK maybe this is a work which will grow and develop with time. The opening also featured re creations of a number of ‘key’ sound art piece of the 1960’s – including one which involved the destruction of a piano by nailing the keys together. Unfortunately it was too dark to get any coverage so piano lovers need not look away!

Its a fascinating and rewarding exhibition which often makes you feel like your participating in a performance and not just simply watching. Talking of performance Schaefer (who describes himself on his web site http://www.audioh.com as a sound artist, musician, composer, sound designer, voiceover artist and lucky dip disco dj) is joined by Philip Jeck and Vasco Alvo for a live performance on Sat 9 January.

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