Soundtrack response to the Adam Art Gallery's exhibition The Specious Present, 11 July – 20 September 2015.
audio, 12 mins looped
The making of TIMEX started with the discovery of four recordings from 1971 of a New Zealand gannet colony, a conscious connection to Colin McCahon and the time and place of his paintings. Portions of these were time-stretched, treated and pitched to form two foundation drone layers; one a higher layer, as if wind sweeping along a beach, and the second a lower one to play the part of the grunts and groans of time contorting in the present moment.
Through this, a pulse was added, marking four-bar intervals of 120 beats per minute; a standard measure in electronic dance music, the average heartbeat rate at a brisk walking pace. This pulse is an edited microsecond from the beginning of one of the bird recordings. Normally, this sort of click would be treated as a recording error and discarded. In TIMEX this sound sets the pace, tick-tocking a constant, although the sample is passing through several algorithmic audio plug-ins to subtly incorporate evolving inconsistencies - of timbre, position in the stereo field, amplitude and meter. Time here is free to wander within parameters of chaos.
In dwelling on the duration of ‘the specious present’, I discovered that the initial drone piece I’d made needed to be radically cut up, like an internal thought process that flits between past recollections and future imaginings. This introduced abrupt changes of movement, dynamic shifts and jolts, and thus more awareness of each passing phase.
I regularly make quick sound recordings, audio snapshots that are usually no longer than a minute in duration. During that minute I am intensely focused on the immediacy of the moment—fishing for sound. With varying clarity, I have interleaved some of these recordings into the TIMEX cut-up dronescape. These are my own real-world, real-time specious present moments: ghostly surges of almost discernible birdcalls; the distant ocean; rain on the tin roof of a bach; the internal workings of a digital camera as it seeks to find focus; a burst of AM radio static; fumbling to unlock a door with my hands full; a snatch of Christchurch City demolition; a bumble bee bumping against a pane of glass, and a mechanical drill to finish.
In TIMEX I am weaving the garbled, linear metronome of time’s unwavering elastic ubiquity with definable interruptions of the now.
released 10 July 2015
Image: David Claerbout, The Quiet Shore, 2011, single channel video projection, black & white, silent, 36 min 32 sec, courtesy the artist and galleries Micheline Szwajcer, Brussels; Sean Kelly, New York; Untilthen, Paris