Monday, 4 January 2010

The Sound Of Music

I heard it long before I saw it, the sinister-looking tree house. I followed my ears out of the wood; emerged in a field: no people, no horn; just a tree house trumpeting-out Mozart’s horn concertos (I hung around and listened to all four). I’d like to think it was the ghost of Dennis Brain; that he’d been hidden away up there – playing endlessly - since his fatal car crash early one Sunday morning in September 1957. Brain was on his way from Edinburgh to London (to play in the Proms), when his car skidded off the road and hit an oak tree near Barnet: Brain’s French horn was found undamaged on the passenger seat. It was after first hearing Brain that I decided to learn the horn.

The sound of music; coming from the tree house, reaching out over the fields: no people. Say I sent these instructions to an illustrator; how would he draw “the sound of music”? As black notes, crotchets and semi-quavers – flying out of the tree house - ascending into the blue? If he were a collage-artist he might use black-tights to represent notes: black-tights caught on power-lines.

I’ve found a drawing for ‘An Office Duet’, but I’m no nearer to finding out why I made the photograph.

If you’d never seen a tree – didn’t know what a tree looked like, and you came across a tree-stump: would you ever be able to imagine a tree? And say there was a vinyl record sitting on the tree-stump, and you’d never seen a record, let alone heard a record – you had no concept of a record: could you in your wildest dreams imagine such a dead-looking thing could sing? - that something so thin and manufactured and black could contain anything so human and alive, as a voice?

I once did a performance at the ICA called, “The Death Of Vinyl: The Birth Of Olestra”. Olestra is a fat substitute (used in fat-free Pringles etc…) produced by Proctor And Gamble; an apt name for the company – you’d soon be under the proctologist if you consumed enough of this 'wonder-fat' - one of the many side effects of olestra is anal seepage! A condition that further boosts demand for another Proctor and Gamble product: Pampers.

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