FOCUS I | Rod Summers - A VEC Interview
VEC audio exchange project 1978-1983 contains the entire collection of sound pieces collected by Rod Summers and PR material circulated in the Mail Art Network. The project is introduced through an interview conducted by Thomas Bey William Bailey (Spring 2009).
- 1978-11-28 Summers, HERE C60. 28 November 1978
- 1979-04-10 Summers, LISTEN C60. 10. April 1979
- 1979-06-28 Summers, CLEAR C90. 28 June 1979
- 1979-09-20 Summers, GLISTEN C60. 20 September 1979
- 1979-12-29 Summers, EAR2EAR C60. 29 December 1979
- 1980-04-02 Summers, GATHERED HEAR C60. 2 April 1980
- 1980-10-01 Summers, SEPTIC C60. 1 October 1980
- 1981-02-20 Summers, STILL C60. 20 February 1981
- 1981-07-28 Summers, ULISES’ DOG C60. 28 July 1981
- 1981-08-25 Summers, PHYTHAGORAS BUDGERIGAR C60. 25 August 1981 (editor Tom Winter)
- 1982-01-07 Summers, GRATE C60. 7 January 1982
- 1982-05-12 Summers, RINGADE C60. 12 May 1982
- 1982-10-07 Summers, ETHER C60. 7 October 1982
- 1982-10-17 Summers, HARK (Hard as you like) C60. 7 October 1982
- 1983-02-01 Summers, AURECLE IN G C60. 1 February 1983
- 1983-09-07 Summers, TCHING (THE END) C60. 7 September 1983
A VEC Interview
by Thomas Bey William Bailey
‘Unofficial Release’ by Thomas Bey William Bailey,
ISBN-10-0615611273. Published 2012.
Overly ambitious idiot that I am, I've been compiling material for a book about "unofficial" audio world of tape networks, 'Net releases and beyond ever since my first book was given the 'green light' for publication later this year. This has proven to be more difficult than I first thought, owing to the often adverse relationship with the public that hounds many artists deep within the audio underground. And, as an adjunct to this, many of these people have successfully been able to use the "mysterious" and "fetishistic" nature of radical d.i.y. releasing as a smokescreen for a real lack of well-articulated expression. As you will probably be able to tell by his generous answers here, Rod Summers (who has been conducting exchange-based artworks under the "VEC" sign since 1973) is not one of those people, and this creative practice is all the better for it. I will go easy on the biographical / background information, since so much of that is covered in the text below- but suffice it to say that Summers has united the various currents of mail art, home recording, sound poetry and sound art into one quite powerful stream, and he can claim, without impunity, of being one of the first individuals to do so. As the culture of "handmade" audio experiences a 21st-century revival (for reasons as varied as economic downturn, protest against continuing cultural homogenization, and just plain fun), Summers warns us not to overlook the origins of this culture and not to allow technology to become the driving force behind independent creative enterprise, as exciting and potentially liberating as its growing availability may be. Without further ado, here's the text of my recent exchange with the magus of Maastricht...
OK, for starters- what were the circumstances that led up to the foundation of the VEC Audio Exchange? Had you previously approached other outlets with the intention of releasing the kinds of sounds you've made available, or was it decided from the outset that a completely d.i.y. medium was the only way to properly present this material?
In 1978 it occurred to me to check out what other artists were doing with sound. By that time cassettes and cassette recorders were readily available everywhere on the planet, and affordable for most people. I had been working with tape recorders and sound for more than 15 years and had several complete works, a few of my mail art contacts had sent me cassettes of their audio works and sound poetry so the next logical step was to make a compilation cassette and use that as trade for audio works from other artists working the mail art network. The basic concept was to exchange and promote audio as a medium amongst artists so the concept of approaching other outlets never entered my mind. The Exchange cassettes were only available in exchange for audio works, they were never for sale as such.
What was the difference between the VEC audio 'Exchange' and 'editions' series of releases?
The VEC AUDIO EXCHANGE cassettes contained a mix of the works of several different artists whereas, with a couple of exceptions, each of the EDITIONS contained the work of an individual artist.
You mentioned how some of the people to send you sound works were active in mail art circles as well. I think because today's pop media culture [in America, anyway] tends to privilege recorded music above other art forms, a lot of these people -we'll use Vittore Baroni as an example- are seen as being mainly 'sound artists who had mail art as a side hobby', rather than as being fully-integrated multi-media artists. So, my question would be- how closely related were the 'lineages' of mail art and cassette-based independent music / sound art? Did you find, in the late '70s and early '80s, that there was a very large percentage of mail artists working within the sound medium, or was it just a handful of individuals whose real number has been distorted over time?
First thing I want to do is separate music from sound art. I work in conceptual art, I attended an academy of fine art, I am not a musician and I don't play any musical instrument. When home-produced music became the dominant content of the works being received for the VEC audio exchange project I stopped the activity. Back in the Seventies there were very few audio artists, that is fine artists who were using sound as a medium for the creation of art works. The material I had in my possession when I decided to begin the audio exchange was; the product of my own activity, read poems by John M. Bennett, a recording I made of an 'eating bananas' performance with Anna Banana, Bill Gaglione, Liesbet Summers and myself, a sound work by Leonhard Frank Duch who was living in Brazil at that time and a work by Paul Carter from the U.K. The concept of multi-media was still in it's infancy as was that of networking. Mail art was a very convenient method of making contact with artists and suggesting the possibility of developing ideas with the medium sound. It may be sheer arrogance on my part but I like to think that many of the mail artists who turned their hand to audio art did so in order to participate in the VEC Audio Exchange Project. As for the number of mail-artists working within the sound medium... a rough estimate of the number of mail artists when the movement was at peak activity was some thousands world wide, the VEC Audio Exchange featured work from just 180 artists from 21 countries. I don't think... better said I don't know if, there was much cross fertilisation between audio mail art and the Indi-music cassette movement. They were parallel dimensions. The fundamental reason why both flourished had more to do with the global compatibility of the compact audio cassette and the inexpensive cost of recorders, cassettes and postage. Were you aware that this year 2009 celebrates 100 years of audio art? The first documented use of sound by artists was by the Futurist Russollo and, as Futurism celebrates the centenary of the publication of its manifesto by Marinetti this year, it could be claimed that audio art is also 100 years old.
What was it that first led you to record the aforementioned readings and actions- was it a simple need to preserve them, or the possibility that having them available on tape would add some hitherto unnoticed dimension to the work?
Way back when a single transistor was exciting, a tranny was a radio, and chips were made of thin slices of fried potato, I bought my first tape recorder. Just a couple of years later, whilst working at a military base which test fired ground-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, a missile engineer told me that computers were going to be the future and here I am now inputting this text with one of my three computers in a room full of silicon chip controlled creativity, 3 computers and 2 REVOX B77’s. I don’t use the tape recorders a great deal anymore but they are here as I love the solid mechanical technology which will retain its efficiency long after the computers are languishing, awaiting disassembly in a recycling centre. There are things that can be done with sound on a tape recorder that are not possible using a computer. So I had a tape recorder in the beginning of the 60s, 1961 in fact and in my mind’s eye I can still see the machine sitting in the shop window. But what was I going to do with it? The canteen of the base where I was stationed had both a radio and a jukebox so copying music was not an important option but I knew from listening to the radio that most of the programmes I was hearing were pre-recorded on magnetic tape and that that tape could be edited to remove errors in the original recording or; and this was what I found most intriguing, edited to create new meanings from that which was originally recorded. For example in the 1950s there was a Saturday morning programme on BBC radio where the disc-jockey Jack Jackson interspersed the records he played with montages of recordings made of comedy records and programmes. So, soon after the purchase of that original tape machine, I bought an editing block and tape and began to create my own realities.
In 1969 whilst still in the RAF I was serving at a NATO base in the city of Maastricht, in the southernmost province of the Netherlands, and it was there I bought myself a Sony tape recorder and built a tone generator from a Philips kit, and with these two things and an editing block I began to create sound works. Shortly thereafter I met Raul Marroquin, a Columbian artist who was studying at the Jan van Eyck Academy of fine arts in Maastricht, and he informed me that what I was doing could be considered as an art form. I began working with Raul who was busy with video at the advent of that medium. At the same time I met the Welsh rock-musician Tom Winter who was working from Maastricht, and who was also busy with tape recorders and manipulating recorded sounds, and began to produce works with him- one of which is still in existence and appears on the VEC Audio CD Tacky’s Lithe Leaden Lazer Guided Dinghy. In 1972 I returned to the UK to complete the last year of my contract with the RAF, and within that last year I took a course on tape editing run by the BBC at the University of Hull, only to find that I had self-taught all the techniques offered by the course. On leaving the RAF I returned to Maastricht and entered the Jan van Eyck Academy where I studied Experimental Art and made many audio works like ‘Sad News’ ‘Severely Spliced’ and ‘Purely for Vittore’. I continue to work with Raul Marroquin on his publication and communication projects. Tom Winter and I made sound works together and continue to do so.
So the answer to your question is; I have been recording and manipulating sound as a creative activity since the early 60s so recording readings, actions, programmes from the radio and naturally occurring events was and is the fundament of my work. Sometimes the recording is a method of preserving an occurrence, for example I record occasional news broadcasts and have American president Ford’s last speech on tape but more often it is the collection of material for later manipulation into something which had not previously existed.
Of course reading one's poems and enacting a performance are two totally different things, but I'm still curious what inspires you to record these respective processes.
The concept suggests the medium. When I am trawling my mind banks or even when merely drifting on a tide of thoughts an idea comes and the appropriate medium to produce the work comes with it. When I write poetry the sound aspect is paramount, all my poems are written to be read aloud. Often the treatment of the sound poem is suggested with the original thought to the point where a text might be written specifically to employ a particular effect. For my performances I usually do minimal visual activity to a pre-recorded sound track, it is often the idea for the sound work that comes first and the visual aspect that follows. Mostly I prefer to let the sound be the totality of the work and feel there is no visual aspect necessary or even that any visual aspect, video or performance would distract from the impact of the sound work. I am a reluctant performer, I prefer to work things out here in my studio and I’m not really comfortable within the pressured atmosphere of creating before an audience. Recording sound, manipulating it and burning it onto a CD so that others can hear it is a very different activity than producing sound ‘live’.
Regarding your earlier statements about the separation of music and sound art (and please forgive me for bringing up this old debate again), where does 'music' end and 'sound art' begin for you personally? I do think it's tragic that the majority of people purchasing recordings of any medium expect 'songs' rather than some other form of recorded information, but on the other hand, I tend to find musicality and latent structure in recordings of 'noise' and even the most chaotically assembled recordings of human voice, naturally occurring phenomena etc.
I wonder how many times this question has been raised. I suppose that I consider myself a poet first and artist second and that has an influence on my attitude to sound and music. In the past I have stated that my visual work is textually based and my text is visually based but now that sounds pretentious so I don’t know how valid the expression is anymore. Music… well I don’t much like the current trend for the formless noise music, sometimes the sound thus produced is sublime but mostly it’s just noisy buggers who have nothing to say making the air waves shudder. I wonder how your idea of finding musicality and latent structure would apply to my audio dramas.
As I write this text I am listening to the CD Greatest Hits by Tom Petty but I come from the generation that appreciated Bing, Bach and Brubeck and was impressed with the conceptual invention of Cage and Stockhausen… I am burdened by misconception that music has inherent limitations whereas audio art has none… how am I going to explain that now? Music performers are compelled to repeat the same works, over and over again, audio artists… performing audio artists rarely repeat a work… no, that’s certainly not it! In most instances music is made by instruments recognised as being created to produce the sounds that constitute music, anything that makes sound can be used to create audio art… no that’s not at all satisfying either… I feel as though I just walked into a bog! I don’t know where music ends and sound art begins, it’s not something I have ever had to think about, all I know is that I make audio art and not music because I’m an artist and not a musician. I am not limited by formal structures like musical notes or rhythms, keys, harmonics or instruments.
My next question would be one related to the international nature of the VEC Exchange project- much of the material on these tapes is based on poetic readings, spoken monologues / dialogue etc., and much of that is recorded in the authors' original languages rather than in the (supposedly) universal English of international commerce. Did you feel that works presented in, say, the various Scandinavian tongues could still convey their messages to listeners of different linguistic backgrounds? Or, put another way, did you feel they had a unique sonic quality which transcended the language barrier?
It has never bothered me to be in the company of people speaking a language I don’t understand, I find pleasure in listening to the sounds of speech. Participants in the VEC Audio Exchange project were encouraged to make works in their own language. I was interested in sound, not in comprehensibility. To me the sound of the voice is as important as what the voice is actually saying and this applies particularly to the audio dramas I produce because although I do my best to give the scripts content, my main interest with audio drama is to expose voice colour or, as you express it, sonic quality. In my ears the most interesting languages I have heard are those of the Scandinavian lands, especially Icelandic. The first few times I visited Iceland; this summer’s visit will be my 17th. or 18th. I have lost count, I was bowled over by the sound of the language, I found it impossible even to distinguish individual words, I recognised nothing even when I knew the context of the conversation, it sounded to me as though the speakers were inventing what they were saying as they spoke, and I found the sounds they made fabulous. Now I know it is a notoriously difficult language to learn with some of the grammar and syntax practically impossible for a non-native to learn. My own grasp of the language extends only as far as being able to order a hot-dog, French fries with cocktail sauce or a smoked lamb sandwich.
I'm also curious about the Scandinavian artists represented on the tapes, some of whose names I'm seeing for the first time. Other international cassette labels that I've surveyed have focused more heavily on entries from the U.S., U.K. and Western Europe, how did this contingent of artists from the Scandinavian countries come to be involved with VEC?
Whilst at academy there were Norwegians and Icelanders amongst my fellow students, I am unable to explain my affinity with the Nordics, but I have had an interest in the Viking Empire all my life and when five or six years old I saw pictures of war-time Iceland. In 1981 I was invited to do a performance at the Living Art Museum in Reykjavik and in the week or 10 days I was there I fell in love with the land of Ice and Fire. Immediately after my performance I was invited to teach at the art school for a month and whilst doing that made friends with some of the students who are still close friends today, you can see the videos we now make together by visiting Youtube and entering ‘vecdor’ into the search window. It has been suggested I must have been an Icelander in a previous life, I think it more likely that I am attracted to the courageous nature of the islanders, the fascinating living landscape, the bird population and the cold clean environment. Besides all of that there is something about Nordic art I find particularly inventive especially in performance art. Swedish national radio was one of the first to dedicate a series of programmes to sound art; I think the Germans were the first. Audio art was invented by the Italians (Russolo the futurist) 100 years ago and recorded audio art was developed by the Germans who started by editing the sound track on film, and then developed sound recording on wire which then led to recording tape.
How much influence has your living environment had on the VEC projects? Would this whole undertaking be possible if it were done from a different base of operations than Maastricht? Would, say, Iceland be more suitable, or is your place of residence ultimately irrelevant to how you create?
I had to think about this. It is rather difficult to isolate how living in Maastricht had an influence on my creative projects even though that influence has been significant. I made the decision to remain in Maastricht on finishing the academy whilst most of my contemporaries moved to Amsterdam. I stayed here for two reasons, firstly because I love this city with its rich history which reaches back 150 million years; there is a genus of dinosaurs named after this district, the mosasaurs. The Romans crossed the river here and created settlements in the area, this was the borderline between the Latin speaking peoples and the Germanic speaking peoples. Not 10 kilometres from here French is spoken, 20 kilometres and you find the Dutch German border. Napoleon was here, and established a large garrison in the city. The last major battle of the Austrian/Hungarian War of Succession took place just beyond the city walls. Some of the decisive battles of the Second World War occurred in this area. In short this is a city of major historic significance and yet it is a peaceful place, somewhere where I could concentrate on the production of my work without interference or distraction from a perceived requirement to be part of a ‘scene’. The second reason to stay here was that the city was kind to me, welcoming and comfortable, it’s hard to explain exactly why but I have always felt that this is where I belong and perhaps it is that feeling of stability of residence that led me to venture forth into the world of international connections.
My love for Iceland is quite different, I stumble around the country in awe of what I see and, to be honest, I spend more time gawking than working; Maastricht has history, Iceland has geology. In the past, in the days when air travel was too expensive to contemplate, I saw Maastricht as perfectly located to be a base from which I could travel around Europe.
Along these lines, have there been any challenges involved in having a network of VEC collaborators from around the world, as opposed to mainly interacting with a 'scene' within your own local area? Or, inverting that, have there been any advantages to maintaining a project like this that rather than restricting yourself to that same local culture?
I’ve answered quite a lot of this with what is written above. I seem to remember that back in the '80s a networking artist from Tilburg suggested that a mail-art networking cell be created to operate within the Netherlands and at the time I couldn’t see any point in that, it seemed that from its very inception mail-art was a system that transcended borders, and its very internationalism was what made it so interesting.
Let me approach this from a different angle: Recently Raul (Marroquin) and I were using the video networking system ooVoo to work a 4 way multi-video link between Raul in Amsterdam and me here in the Maastricht and two of Raul’s friends, one in Bogota and the other in Medellin. It was about 11 at night here in the Netherlands and 5 o’clock in the afternoon in Colombia, in the darkness of night here and yet in late afternoon light in Bogota; in a moment of enlightenment I became aware of the globe of planet Earth spinning on its axis beneath solar rays in the vastness of space. Such moments are precious.
The global aspect of the VEC was, in part, a means of achieving an understanding, awareness if you like, of creative humanity. Sometimes of course small problems have arisen through language misunderstandings but over time one develops a language where these misunderstandings can be, in the large part, avoided, and anyway misunderstandings regularly occur between people who supposedly speak the same language. Most of the VEC core members have an excellent grasp of the English language. I can’t remember any occurrence where language has been a barrier to participation in a VEC project but then I wouldn’t would I? If the person didn’t understand the project they wouldn’t bother to participate. As for local culture, Maastricht has its own distinctive dialect and most certainly its own culture which has undoubtedly evolved from its historical heritage. It is interesting to note that there are at least four artists living in Maastricht who devote themselves almost exclusively to the medium of sound.
Having talked a little about the influence of your environment, I'm wondering what some of the other artistic influences were on your personal work? You mentioned the Futurists earlier, were there any other individuals or movements that pushed you in the direction of creating sound poetry?
In 1961, whilst working on the island of Gan in the Maldives Archipelago I saw (and bought) an album of experimental jazz by Dave Brubeck, this album, Time Further Out, featured a painting by Miro on the cover, both the music and the painting were enlightenment.
I attended academy at the tail-end of the Fluxist movement and their works were and still are a major influence on mine. I met Robert Filliou, Joseph Beuys, Takako Saito, Emmett Williams, Eric Anderson and many other members of that 60s explosion of conceptualism.
The biggest influences upon the way I make my art come from things I saw as a student at the Jan van Eyck Academy, particularly the works of Sigurður Guðumundsson the Icelandic performance artist; Raul Marroquin the Columbian video and media artist and Servie Janssen the Dutch conceptual artist. My current poetry performance work has certainly been influenced by my contact with Enzo Minarelli.
And now for a confession! I have studied several books on art history (Herbert Read et al) and I read two daily Internet Art magazines, one Austrian one Dutch, but only very rarely do I visit museums or art galleries, for example I was in Venice earlier this year and, during the five weeks of my residence there, the only museum I visited was the as yet unopened art glass museum of the Berengo Studio. This year saw my first visit to the Maastricht’s city museum, the Bonnefanten, and then only because I am exhibiting there in June. I actively avoid visiting art museums and galleries so that I am (hopefully) minimally influenced by the art of others.
I freely admit to influence by, Lewis Carroll, Dylan Thomas, Flann O’Brien, and a sway of scientists like Darwin and Dawkins. The Icelandic sagas have also had a major influence on my writing. Several of my friends love pointing out the considerable influence the late Spike Milligan has had upon me.
Did doing all the 'curatorial' work for VEC also lead to a transformation of your art (i.e., did you start incorporating new techniques or approaches into your work that came about as a result of hearing contributions by the other artists featured in the Exchange?)
Undoubtedly! Some of the works I received made me livid because I hadn’t thought of doing that piece myself when, because of my practice, I should have done so. But I am English and a lover of cricket so I have been programmed from birth to be a gracious looser!
I would think the works that have had the biggest influence on my own sound work have been other poet’s pieces of experimental poetry. The work… the live work of people like Kubota and Sutherland (Canada) and Dutch Jaap Blonk is often staggering in its complexity and range of sounds produced by the human voice, their influence, or rather hearing their work has encouraged me to avoid even attempting to go down that vocal path. I have certainly been influenced by John M. Bennett from Columbus, Ohio, hearing him read and reading his printed texts over the last thirty years of our contact has led me to developing my own form of abstract poetry, an example here:
Frane The Virtual
Frane the virtual mori gloss
And barm in glory midas tock
Notter fen inbyro pressed
When quinsly Durham bilag lock
Full ennil bhutol durm intact
And japock frocks were kileray
Best green was in a tirade sterm
And murmer played the rudge all day
Then pult oh fromot liport yearned
Was thus the burlap empty cup
Lorn in excess pressed doily mange
Whilst fedro billing looked her up
Bright jiring elements were brash
Pre Raphaelite and over brushed
Through endless graze born phananthrope
In bobbing excess weedy rushed
No more the intent grim and foil
No more bereft than pindle bake
No more the dorey gimble oil
No more the stilted ingress flake
And so to hermane fillet brought
By verbose insight truly lost
Are brackish kalick wishing wrought
For sixpence and a far thing crossed
All lava braut in basket taal
Sought diamonds in the chilling moss
But finding nothing water raal
Was frane the virtual mori gloss.
(Rod Summers/VEC, Isleworth, 29 January 2008)
A few years ago (2001) John and I did a trans-Atlantic telephonic joint reading of a (via email) joint written poem, live for an audience at a theatre here in Maastricht. I like to believe that was the first ever trans-Atlantic joint reading.
As for new techniques, it may sound arrogant to say but I believe back in the days of the Exchange project I was way ahead of most artists and poets of my generation when it came to tape recording and computer manipulation techniques of producing, developing and even restoring art sounds. That said I admit that I saw computer generated poetry probably 5 or 6 years before beginning to use a computer myself (1983). I also should add at this juncture that even though I’ve heard a lot there is such a vast volume of work within the field of audio art and sound poetry which I haven’t heard, it is well likely that there are technical tour de forces that way outshine my efforts. Furthermore, the latest generation of sound artists have a superior knowledge of the latest techniques, the question is do they have the knowledge of experiences and history to be able to use their techniques to produce innovative yet real art?
This is something I've tried to get to the bottom of in my previous writing: how to make technologically-based art without the novel technique and technology involved becoming the main focus or "star" of audiences' / critics' attention. In my humble opinion, even the most radically 'inhuman' pieces can't be totally separated from their human origins [check Yasunao Tone's "Wounded Man'yo" experiments for a prime example of something that uses generative computer techniques yet still retains a good deal of the artist's character and experience.] Why do you think people focus on the technological aspects of sound works so much- perhaps a utopian pinning of hope onto machines, or some other reason?
Several young people I know have a concept of Utopia and its non-achievable status, but they still continue to strive to make it manifest and to a man (or woman) they believe it is humanity that will be the catalyst, not the computer or its peripherals. I had a conversation today with someone who shares my belief that dissolution of all religion is the first step toward a better world.
Related to sound works I think, once again, we have to hark back to the punk era and the idea of ‘keeping culture out of the hands (and ears) of the over cultured’ which, to a larger degree, I agree with… however just because you can recognise a resistor’s polarity and know which is the hot end of a soldering iron doesn’t make you a Robert Moog and the noise music instrument you built in your garage does not give you the right to deafen your audience with a surfeit of decibels and frequency sweeps and anyway, back in the very early 80s, M.B. (Maurizio Bianchi) covered all that screaming transistor/feedback phenomenon so, though it may seem new to you, it has all been done before and to my ears done better. In the 1960s, I built tone-generators from kits; I think my friend Jon Paton in Nottingham still has some of my built-into-cigar box instruments, and when I came to play and (sound on sound/sound with sound) record compositions with these instruments I tried to have a story, an imagined image or sequence of events in mind and then, hashish assisted, render and relate that story and its emotional depths and peaks with the sounds produced by tortured transistors.
Form and content became objects of scorn at just about the same time as academic achievement became something to be scoffed at. No matter how hard and with what I have battered my brain I could never shake my consciousness free of its desire to give things meaning. There is a picture behind every story I tell and I tell stories, I don’t just blather gibberish… it might appear so superficially (especially here!) but if anyone asks me nicely I am always willing to reveal the concept and background to any work I have made. This, I realize might not be the current trend but I have never been one to follow trends. Style without content is a cul-de-sac and a shallow one at that. I also realise this statement is not one to make me popular amongst critics and others of the trend following set but personally Sunshine I don’t give a flying f#@k. For me to be satisfied with a work, it needs to have a beginning, middle and an end, and have some non-regurgitated meat on the bone.
People focus on the technological aspect of sound works because the either have nothing to say or simply that it is the technology that interests, satisfies and absorbs them. If a microchip can be overheated enough to make it make a sound like a bumble-bee with a digestive gas problem all well and good but if I go into the field or hedge to record said dyspeptic winged insect at least I’m getting some fresh air and exercise.
So what kind of advice could you give to young sound artists or sound poets today, who have an unprecedented amount of access to creative technology?
Read a book or two! Read SOUND BY ARTISTS edited by Dan Lander and Micah Lexier. Read the books on audio art by Douglas Kahn. Research what the Futurists were doing 100 years ago; study the works of John Cage. Listen to John Lennon’s ‘#9’. Read the sound blogs by people like Harold Schellinx. Listen to Scott Williams on W.F.M.U. New Jersey, get informed, go Google. For would-be sound poets read the poli-poetry manifesto by Enzo Minarelli; get hold of a copy of the anthology of sound poets by Dmitry Bulatov. Avoid reinventing the wheel and do try giving some expression to your own creativity, have something to say. Unless you are 100% sure that the sound you have devised is previously unknown (a very unlikely situation) be inventive; apply your imagination to what you have realized technology can offer you.
[LINK] visit the VEC World Service (umbrella project containing the VEC Audio Exchange and much more)
Interview conducted by Thomas Bey William Bailey, spring 2009.
BIO: Thomas Bey William Bailey is an author, sound artist, and educator who has worked and lived in Japan, Spain, Central Europe and various U.S. locales. His output in both text and audio media has focused heavily upon the extremes of information, and on the identification of what is truly meaningful and constructive within the conditions of information saturation and deprivation. He has written two exhaustive volumes on new electronic music practices ('MicroBionic') and networked audio ('Unofficial Release'), and will have a third volume on the cultural history of synesthesia published in the coming year.
VEC Audio | Participants
1978-11-28 Summers, HERE C60. 28 November 1978
Rod Summers, Paul Carter, Leonhard Frank Duch, John M Bennett, Anna Banana - Bill Gaglione.
1979-04-10 Summers, LISTEN C60. 10. April 1979
Paul Carter, VEC, Klaus Groh, Rod Summers, Tony Bradley, Carl Loeffler - Bill Gaglione, Betty Dannon, Bob Davis, Eldon Garnet, Aaron Flores, John M Bennett, Mani Leitner - Harald Issing, Ruedi Schill, Pawel Petasz.
1979-06-28 Summers, CLEAR C90. 28 June 1979
Ruedi Schill, Leonhard Frank Duch, Jenne van Eeghen, Marek Krolczuk, Adam Scott, Fahnmuhle Family, Robin Crozier, Vittore Baroni, Steve Hitchcock, Paulo Bruscky, Jockel Henes, Tony Bradley, Ron Crowcroft, Abdada Leclair, Geoffrey Cook, Los Microwaver, Dave Forbes, Pawel Petasz, Larry Wendt, John M Bennett, Paul Carter, Denis Zanoni, Herman Herdick - Henryk Gajewski, Rod Summers, Jesse Glass jr, Brio Burgess, Johan Cornelissen, Nicola Frangione, Tommy Mew.
1979-09-20 Summers, GLISTEN C60. 20 September 1979
VEC, Limy Scheres, Klaus Groh, Nic Thompson, The Audio Players, Betty Danon, Philip Loarie, Marianne Heske, Diederick van Kleef, Nicola Frangione, Dave Zack - Niels Lomholt, Geoffrey Cook, Richard Olson, Rod Summers, Marek Krokczuk, Bob Davis, Peter Below, Steve Hitchcock, Tony Bradley, Ron Crowcroft, Julien Blaine, John Ducan, Tommy Mew.
1979-12-29 Summers, EAR2EAR C60. 29 December 1979
Paul Carter, Nicola Frangione, Betty Danon, Joyce Curler Shaw, Thoei Horiike - Lon Spiegelman, Vittore Baroni, Leonhard Frank Duch, Klaus Groh, Rod Summers, Tony Bradley, Richard Olson, Gary Jacobelly, Ron Crowcroft, Paulo Bruscky, Pawel Petasz, Servie Janssen, Lou Schoonbrood, Witold Popiel, Michael Andre, Steven Berkowitz, Los Microwaves, VEC.
1980-04-02 Summers, GATHERED HEAR C60. 2 April 1980
Marek Krolczuk, Nic Thompson, Carel Lanters, Tom Winter, Diederick van Kleef, Idid Idid, Henryk Gajewski, Vittore Baroni, Philip Loarie, Bat Space, Pam Minor - Bob Davis, David Javelosa, The Audio Players, John M Bennett – C Mehrl, Jesse Glass jr, Opal L Nations, Michael Gibbs, Brio Burgess, Ron Crowcroft.
1980-10-01 Summers, SEPTIC C60. 1 October 1980
Bat Space, Giovanni Fontana, Marek Krolczuk, The Audio Players, Rom Crowcroft, Maurizio Bianchi, Michael Gibbs, Leonhard Frank Duch, Johan Cornelissen, Vittore Baroni, Lon Spiegelman, Klaus Groh, The Kraut, John M Bennett, Magnus Gudlaudsson, Daniele Ciullini, Nic Thompson, Jurgen Olbrich, Paulo Bruscky, Brio Burgess - Janet Oye, The Statics.
1981-02-20 Summers, STILL C60. 20 February 1981
The VEC Spy, Tacky - The Original Veccettes, The Renegade Dei Marmi, The Idid Idid Rockets, The Modern Farmers, Carlo Pittore - Bern Potter, Tilt, Artpool, The National Voice, Bob Davis, Rara, Brio, Jenne van Eeghen, Jürgen Olbrich - Rolf Behme, Organ Bank, Marek Krolczuk, Agneiszka Hamerska, Niels Lomholt, Mb, C Mehrl, Ruedi Schill, Lon Spiegelman, Diederick van Kleef, Peter Below, Rod Summers – Winterfari.
1981-07-28 Summers, ULISES’ DOG C60. 28 July 1981
Michael Bright, VEC, Tom Winter, Andrew Darlington, Ron Crowcroft, Dave King, Fritz Stier, Rod Summers, Giovanni Fontana, Jim Price, John M Bennett, Kenneth Pobo, Suvi - Silja Leitner, Helenka, Carel Lanters, Klaus Groh, Piotr Rypson, Jesse Glass jr, Brio Burgess, Richard Kostelanetz, Michael Gibbs, Opal L Nations, Mario Rondi, Sylvia James, Stefan Weisser, Ruggero Maggi, Jürgen Olbrich, Henryk Gajewski – The VEC Spy, Daniel Ciullini.
1981-08-25 Summers, PHYTHAGORAS BUDGERIGAR C60. (editor Tom Winter) 25 August 1981
VEC, Mental, vec2, Idid Idid, Jim Price, Lt Murnau, Rara, Charlotte Tease, John M Bennett, Diederick van Kleef, Emilio Morandi, Die Endzeitakrobaten, Biagio Donati, Darek Krolczuk, Benjamin Allen, Mind Invaders, Marga – Brause Lutscher, MB, Ad de Koning, Maurizio Andrioletti, Carlo Pittore, The Audio Players, Ron Crowcroft, Modern Farmers, Die Krauts, Poprockers, Carel Lanters, Tacky, Lon Spiegelman, Philip Loarie, Peter Below, Bob Davis, Rod Summers, Nicola Frangione, Michael Bright.
1982-01-07 Summers, GRATE C60. 7 January 1982
Anna Banana, Morning Cure, Oscar Wagenmans – Carel Lanters, Event Group, Willem E Bennett, Giancarlo Martina, Nic Thompson, Ben Allen, MB, Enrica Piva, Vittore Baroni, Ron Crowcroft, Brio Burgess – Gail Tolley, Nicola Frangione, Ruedi Schill, Eddy Fontaine, Dermot Mahon, Ward Weis, De Downers, Emilio Morandi, Jesse Glass jr, Robert L Gilhan, Piotr Rypson, Daniel, T Lipinski, Marek Krolczuk, T Szczecinski, H Hamenska, Henryk Gajewski, A Hamerski, Kryzys.
1982-05-12 Summers, RINGADE C60. 12 May 1982
Druids Come Back, Guy Sherman, Vittore Baroni, Lon Spiegelman, Ken Montgomery, John M Bennett, It Rasch, Mogens Otto Nielsen, Robert I Gillham, Port Said, Thor Elias Palsson, A de Koning, Diederick van Kleef, Dermot Mahon, MB, Brio Burgess, Enzo Minarelli, Andy Darlington, Amok, Sergio – Emilio Morandi, Ben Allen, Limy Scheres, Carlo Pittore, Julien Blaine, Artfoot, Emmett Walsh, Magnus Gudlaugsson, Eddy Fontaine, B Sides, Les Chats, Christophe Bourseiller, Ginny Lloyd.
1982-10-07 Summers, ETHER C60. 7 October 1982
Tilt – Brygada, Idid Idid, Szarosi, Ben Allen, Baroni – Bianchi – Ciani – Ciullini, Rob Cuypers, Pete Horobin, Mani Leitner, Richard Dellen, Monster Zonder Waarde, Nic Thompson, Dislocate Klammer – Alex igloo, Klaus Groh, Vittore Baroni, Peter Meyer.
1982-10-17 Summers, HARK (Hard as you like) C60. 7 October 1982
Asta Olafsdottir, John M Bennett, Alexander Zeit, Dermot Mahon, Pete Horobin, Lady C, Lugo, Sylvia James, Jannick Jourmaux, Richard Boulez – Henryk Gajewski, Erik Malzner, Serse Luigetti, Artfoot, Ruggero Maggi, Edgar Allen Bushmiller, Mogens Otto Nielsen, Jesse Glass jr, Richard – Lon, Bedeschi – Ponzi – Pittore, Ezio Abrile, Klaus Groh, Robert L Gillham, Giovanni Fontana, Nicola Frangione, Furry Couch, Tentatively a Convenience, The Morandi Conspiracy, Aeiou – Volker Haman, Alex Igloo – Dislocate Klammer, Brigade K.
1983-02-01 Summers, AURECLE IN G C60. 1 February 1983
Thor Elis Palsson, Jeff Stoll, Pete Horobin, Richard I Gillham – Trev Faull, Carlo Pittore, Per Holmstrom, Lon – Friends, Carsten Schmidt Olsen, Daniele Ciullini, Bob Davis – G P Skratz, Peter R Meyer, Magnus Gudlaugsson, Brio Burgess, Fomt, Dermot Mahon, Niels Lomholt, Stevie More, Jørgen Christensen – Jürgen Olbrich – V Hansen – Carsten Schmidt Olsen, John M Bennett, Helgi Fridjonsson, Carel Lanters – Ddiederick van Kleef, Paulo Brusky – C Marconders, Klaus Groh, Ben Allen, Ken Montgomery – Isaac Jackson.
1983-09-07 Summers, TCHING (THE END) C60. 7 September 1983
Rod – Tom, Stevie More, De Fabriek, Psycho, Dermot Mahon, Head Cheese, Peter Downsborough, Gustaf Mahler Band, Roland Zinders, Bob Davis – Son 3, Prima Boys, John M Bennett, Finnbogi Petursson, Edition 23, Thor Elis Palsson, Bulbo Raquided, Jesse Glass jr, Ruggero Maggi – The Morandi Conspiracy, Anna Banana, Port Said, Opal L Nations – Bob Amos, Radio Moscow, Larry D Smith, Antoniette Tisa, The Morandi Conspiracy, Pete Horobin, Aconite, R A Fielding, Paul Thomas, Alen Vincents, Portmanteau, Ubaldo Giacomucci, Erik Malzer, Mike Kane, Jeff Stoll, Ezio Abrile, Carsten Schmidt Olsen, Klaus Reichling, Richard Kostelanetz, Klaus Groh, Alex Douglas, Roberto Fischer, Frank Rogue, Fomt, VEC.