2016. Multimedia Sculpture & Performance.
Some years ago I became interested in the altered states of consciousness and changes in listening that could be brought about by hyperventilation, having been given ‘gas & air’ in an ambulance after breaking a collarbone. The instrument being played in these photographs is the result. Taking the form of a reed organ, which I adapted to be powered by the breath of eight participants, all of the reeds are able to be locked open to enable extended duration drones. As such, the altered form of the instrument is intended to produce a collaborative equilibrium between breath, pitch and time; ‘con-spire’s’ original meaning is literally ‘to breathe with’.
The music - composed by John Lely, seen here operating the instrument - is divided roughly into three sections, and is characterised by slow changes in pitch and timbre, resulting in something resolving around texture rather than around harmony. This seance-like piece places considerable demands on the performers, who at times find themselves close to fainting to maintain the organ’s air supply – producing sound in a communal, hallucinatory state.
Photographs from a performance at the Harris Museum, Preston in 2018 as part of the Into a Better Shape programme.
All images © Robin Hill
Excerpt from a performance at the Brunel Muesum in London as part of Concrete Gestures, 2016.