Artist Talks

Dancehall: Hannah Ellul and Ben Knight

Hannah Ellul and Ben Knight started their talk by saying that Dancehall came about from promoting gigs, which then developed into collaboration. They then started doing more curatorial creative projects which also included music experimentation.

 

“Dancehall is about how we might reflect on a sonic experience”

 

Hannah and Ben then went on to talk more about what Dancehall is, which actually has multiple strands to it, all sharing similar themes and ideas. The people involved all interested in an expanded understanding of thinking about what music means. Hannah and Ben are also interested in improvisation and that as an approach to creative making. This is a way of working collectively which has also transpired into performance, making them see infinities in work with people. They then brought artists together through these similar themes, which included not just performance artists, but also musicians. The idea of then making a publication came about, which showcases the diverse and exciting work that they are interested in. The projects included different traces of the same work, so the publication could then be a different meeting point and platform for cob1artists to all come together and share their similarities and differences.

They then started to look at the function and use of the photocopier, explaining how that
feeds into visual art along with what they were already discussing (see right). Collectively with this, the performances they were working with were also interested in the materiality of the voice, and the meeting point between materiality and meaning, going back the idea of producing the DIY way- making use of what you have. This had similarities between that and the photocopier is also fairly cheap to make lots of work, and there is lots of scope for experimentation- just like the voice. The performances themselves can then draw away from sound, but they will then reflect on the performance, which often brings them back to sound and the voice. I found it interesting that they are open to working really broadly, whilst still referring back to an overall theme. This is similar to how I work, though it has made me think about how I can look into other ways of working, whilst still keeping in mind that I want to work towards an overall subject matter/theme.

 

“Sound is Immersive.”

 

Dancehall then introduced a video installation piece which again was an experimentation with sound which was in response to a novel. The sense of boundary between body and environment and awareness is clear in the novel as well as the piece made in response. Hannah then talked about the “interesting confusion” that occurs within the piece as well. Various sounds started to be used which included bits of speech and field recordings, which brought about a feeling of disorientation. Dancehall then played a piece of music which is related to the project, but was slightly different. The piece then had crossovers with the project, though was still separate.

Despite this, I did struggle when listening to the piece, because there were no visuals to it, I was getting distracted by other people in the room. However, I then made the decision to close my eyes, which really allowed myself to be immersed in the work. I then had a similar experience to reading a book. Like reading, my imagination was sparked, and rather than the visuals being in front of me, they were in my head. This became really interesting to me as I wasn’t expecting to have that reaction to the work. This idea of the audience imagining the visuals was also an interesting concept to me, as this links in with what I am starting to think about in my own practice. The idea of ‘The Happenings’ and the work of Alan Kaprow, and the idea that the audience could not only be involved in the work, but actually making the work what it is. The work would then be formed by the audience themselves, so much so that without the audience, the work would not exist, and would not fulfil its purpose.

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