For sometime I have been fascinated with music in its widest sense whether it is where it spills into opera or the Avantgarde. It has been an unexpected journey for because whilst the pursuit of all things experimental came naturally for me, opera as art form was not on my map for many years. I was far more obsessed with exploring experimental theatre and where it touched dance and the body as in physical theatre, new dance, post-modern dance, performance art, and other cultural movement forms such as Butoh and Body Weather.
It was by chance through my first visit to Argentina with a travel grant from Wales Arts International that I discovered the work of Oscar Edelstein (Composer) and Manuel Eguía (Physicist). Their joint research into the field of acoustics and music was taking sound into an extended form which contained the architectural qualities that I enjoyed in dance and site specific work. In other words they were exploring the exciting world of audio perception and the sense of sound in space.
Their cutting edge research is actually nothing new. Edelstein and Eguía are taking up a conversation between the art and science of music that has a long and fascinating story.
I approach this without the benefit of a background in acoustical science. musical composition, musicology, or physics but as a multimedia artist dedicated to creating artistic experiences that cross that special line from the ordinary to the extra-ordinary, to the oft quoted liminal space, to that otherness that only poets and maybe priests get to occasionally visit and play.
This extensive collaboration between Edelstein and Eguía (which succeeded in being the first research project in Latin America to win major science funding as well as arts funding) re-establishes the old link between science and music - this ambiguous relationship that developed early on in science from the fact that when so often words and vision failed to find adequate explanations for the universe, musical metaphors were a final resort offering concepts such as resonance, vibrations and so on.
In recent times the metaphor of vision has dominated science. This makes Edelstein and Eguía’s work together at the Universidad de Quilmes so important as they take us back into the prioritising of the ear and the process of listening.
The research of historians like Penelope Gouk of Manchester University offer an intriguing parallel to this modern exploration of music as equally a science and an art, as she establishes the importance of music in the development of modern science. Her book "Music, Science & Natural Magic in Seventeenth-Century England" , shows how in the late 16th century and early 17th century the tradition of new experimental philosophy was developing out of the earlier tradition of natural philosophy, and how natural philosophy itself developed out of the tradition of the natural magician - the picture of the lone experimenter who sought to discover universal truths for his personal use or perhaps for that of an elite master. Often music was the source of metaphors used to represent hidden phenomena that could neither be seen or easily put into words. For example the sympathetic resonance between the strings of two instruments was a metaphor frequently used as a way to understand and control unseen forces.
So as well as taking us forward in the field of acoustics, Edelstein and Eguia's work follows in the footsteps of a long line of experimenters who used musical models to illustrate links between the seen and the unseen, right back to the early experiments of the “natural philosophers” of the 16th century, individuals who were working even from before the birth of whom we now call scientists (which is a 19th century term), and whose work itself followed from that of the so called 'natural magicians.'
These experimenters designed instruments as the first attempts to explain the universe in what has been called the “Naturalisation of the marvellous.”
Many of these early experimental philosophers, explains Gouk. were themselves musicians, such as Robert Fludd for whom the practice of music was a step “towards true philosophical knowledge and divine illumination.”
It was only later with the new experimental philosophy that figures like Isaac Newton (1642-1727) searching for underlying structures would begin to draw on maths as a language to reveal the unseen. Before that the properties of bell, lutes, trumpets, and keyboards were frequently used as musical models to describe the functions of the body.
As pointed out by Gouk, the paradox and perhaps the break with the prevalence of the use of musical models came when polyphony was introduced - it was one thing to listen to one instrument and imagine a universal harmony and cosmic order, but this order was under threat when more than one instrument played together. The practice of tuning and temperament had to be introduced as a way to compensate. It was one thing to imagine universal models linked to antiquity such as Apollo - God of Harmony and Cosmic Order with his association with the lyre - an association that court magician John Dee (1527-1608), frequently used. However, put two lyres together and there was a problem. The cosmic order appeared to break down and new models were needed.
It is in this fascinating terrain that Edelstein and Eguia orchestrate the re-meeting of music in its scientific and artistic form. Their work has been patiently and gently taking weight now for over ten years, and the team is ready to show more of the performative results. As a proud member of the production team, I hope this blog begins to identify some of the exciting aspects of this extensive project. I am only beginning here to scratch the surface of the scale of the project and there are others who can speak better about the acoustical science. However I see this as a space to begin new conversations and to offer some material in English and in layman's terms to go alongside the many scientific papers that the research has produced. I hope that little by little I will be able to share a deeper sense of this intriguingly resonant project.
Deborah Claire Procter
Multimedia Artist & Mentor
Founder Clear Insight Productions
For questions and more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Gouk, Penelope, Music, Science & Natural Magic in Seventeenth-Century England, (Yale Uni Press, 1999)
 Natural Magic itself in this moment was seen as an antecedent to the ancient tradition of Priscia Theologia (Original Theology) and the belief that God had revealed the processes of nature to Adam who in turn revealed them to the “magi” - e.g. Abraham, Moses, Hermes, Orpheus, Pythagorus and so on. Gouk p.103
As a creator I have often been drawn to the concept that noted director Peter Brook (amongst many other things known for being the co-founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and author of the key theatre text "The Empty Space") calls "the formless hunch" - it is that feeling that doesn't go away and though it maybe as vague and un-solid as a gentle waft of perfume in the air, something of it pertains and lingers. It is like something that you cannot put your finger on, but that will not go away.
For me, one such "formless hunches" is the presence of the horse. It makes little sense as I am not, nor ever have been, a rider - yet as a child as an avid reader I loved novels with horses (I seem to remember that one was of course Black Beauty by Anna Sewell).
Living in Aberystwyth (West Wales) from 2000, I was very lucky to be close to Equilibre Horse Theatre, a company founded by Jane Lloyd-Francis alongside the dressage company, Carreg. Equilibre Horse Theatre (which sadly is no longer running) was a wonderful experimentation with actors and horses that led to a production each summer. Regular actors were colleagues such as Ian Morgan who comes with an impeccable pedigree of years in the Grotowski Workcenter, and is a long term member of the "Song of the Goat" (just this week mentioned in the Guardian guide to 10 best alternative city breaks as one of the reasons to visit Wroclaw). Directors included Centre for Performance Research's Richard Gough, and designers like Simon Banham (co-founder of Quarantine) so the work was always highly visually, physical and filled with vocal colour and intensity.
This opportunity combined with my fascination of choreographers like Trisha Brown and the whole post modern dance movement which Sally Banes outlined and marked in "Terpsichore in Sneakers" where she mapped out the important shapers (such as Judson Dance Theatre, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, David Gordon, Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs, Meredith Monk, Kenneth King, Douglas Dunn and The Grand Union) and their steps to move through and beyond the restrictions of classical technique. Virtuosity for virtuosities sake was questioned and choreographers like Brown took to exploration of alternative performance spaces, and the lines between trained and un-trained movement, so that pedestrian movements such as walking or falling were equally relevant in a choreography as would be a jeté or arabesque.
In this vein, to work with horses that have an extensive movement training was completely intriguing. I began a brief collaboration in with Jane Lloyd-Francis in my site specific work "Seapiece" in 2002. In the spring of 2010, the Arts Council of Wales funded a period of research and development of a project that I called “What if? / Beth os?” so there was a chance to continue the exploration.
My idea was to investigate ideas about landscape and its representation in performance based around questions of how to make a song of a space, and how to make a portrait of a landscape.
I was returning to West Wales after a large amount of time spent in Argentina. So it was as if as well as the voice of Dylan Thomas in my head, I had added the labyrinthian words and world of Jorge Luis Borges. Thus I began this work thinking about the strange mirror that exists between Patagonia and Wales, where despite a separation of 13,000 kilometres and many years, there still persists a community of Welsh speakers. I was thinking of landscape and travel where the horse has been a key to our development.
During the working process composer Oscar Edelstein came up with the title “A Horse Bleeding Shakespeare” that perfectly captured the magical epic presence of the horse and its ability to be a macro or microcosm.
The final result of the research process that culminated in a day's filming on Ynyslas beach.
An exhibition is being planned in Buenos Aires for later in 2016 and at the end of 2016 there will be a full colour book.
It was a "formless hunch" that led to images that I had not predicted and was thanks to an incredible team of collaborators.
To be updated please send a message to email@example.com
Complete set of 55 images
The images in this series of 55 are available as limited edition fine-art archival prints sized at 375 x 500 cm each limited to 15 plus 5 Artist's Proofs. All prints will be hand numbered and signed by the artist. They will be also supplied with Provenance Certificates authenticating the type of paper, date printed and number in the edition. In addition there is a PDF explaining more about the work.
It’s wonderful when you see a new performance that is more than the sum of it’s parts. When you watch thinking “Is this Butoh, or Bausch, or Beckett?” Then realise that it is at the same time all of those and none of them. “Papeles” in the Norah Borges at the Centro Cultural Borges (Buenos Aires), directed by Adriana Barenstein and performed by Graciela Martínez and Sergio Pletikosic is a gem of a piece. The studio space is small and a typical “black box” experimental space. The performance has that magic that makes you feel you are in the middle of someone else’s world, somewhere, maybe close, maybe far, but certainly somewhere else where you are a privileged witness and a special guest.
The original music of Juan Pablo Amato amplifies the mood without getting in the way. Martínez and Pletikosic give performances that leave you feeling very lucky to be there.
At 78 years old, Martínez with her long track record as an avantgarde and experimental performer, has a subtlety that is transcendent. Pletikosic accompanies, anticipates, advances and retreats like a magnet.
We are in Buenos Aires, this is not tango, yet you feel you are witnessing a dance that has a detail invisible to the naked eye.
The programme notes offer a line to follow;
“A shattered song, a broken voice, some lost phrase, various things wiped out, the remains of some melody. They may be able to talk, conceal, lie, confess, repent, conspire or whatever they want.... They demonstrate at times and hide at others. How many newspapers are needed to cover up a story and an irreversible life?”
However the magic of this performance is that you have no guide nor need one. You are in the safest of hands to go, as says the old tango of genius Roberto Goyeneche in “Naranjo En Flor” (Orange Tree in Bloom) "without thinking" yet fully feeling how so pertinently papers both reveal and hide the truth;
“Primero hay que saber sufrir
después amar, después partir
y al fin andar si penasmiento...”
First you have to know to suffer,
then to love, then to leave,
and finally to walk without thinking...
“Papeles” is for a limited capacity audience, and only one show every Friday. You will remember that you were there forever.