Yesterday, just for a change I went into London and attended the Tate Modern. Getting there early I took my usual stroll around my favourite haunts (For anyone that has visited in recent weeks and wondered where two of the Rotho Seagram paintings had gone to, I don't know either, but rest assured they are back now!) I also had a potter around the Duchamp / Picabia / Man Ray show, which left me a little cold if the truth is known.
If you have an interest in Duchamp then you probably know everything that this exhibition could tell you. Unless you had no knowledge at all of his urinal, and you walked into the gallery and were suprised by it, then you probably don't need to go and see it. In my opinion Duchamp was a genius, but at the end of the day its still just a urinal. Once you know its there and why its there then there's nothing more to be gained by going to look at it. At first I didn't fully understand the connection with Picabia and Man Ray either, beyond the fact they were friends at an early age, though their mutual links to the formative Dada movement did begin to show through in the work of all three as I wandered through. However the works on display were spread over such a wide range of styles and ideas that making sense of it all was very difficult. But then maybe thats the point.
I had another reason for attending the Tate yesterday however. As part of the somewhat bizarre Long Weekend series of events Luke Fowler and Lee Patterson performed their response to the La Monte Young score Draw a straight line and follow it. In typically Pattersonesque style the duo set off a few weeks back to the remote Hebridian Isle of Islay. Fowler is a film maker, best known to me as the creator of the excellent Pilgrimmage from scattered points documentary on Cornelius Cardew. Patterson is arguably the UK's best exponent of the art of field recording right now. Together they chose the B8016 road that joins Islay's two biggest towns Bowmore and Port Ellen. the road is very straight, and they walked its ten mile length, Patterson making field recordings along the way, capturing the natural environment as well as the hum of wire fences, insect chatter beneath the surface of stagnant streams and the occasional passing car. Fowler filmed the journey, and later he spliced the footage together into a 25 minute long impressionistic film that captured the essence of the walk, the place and Patterson at work.
Lee then made the soundtrack to the film from the assorted recordings he had made along the walk. Yesterday at the Tate the film was shown, and Lee added extra sounds into the room using items he and Luke had picked up from along the route as sound sources. Pine cones with contact mics attached were blown onto through a straw, and discarded plastic drinks bottles were used as simple feedback chambers held in front of tiny microphones to create sustained tones that could be tuned carefully by adjusting the position and size of the bottles.
B8016 2008 was a nice little event to experience. Its easy to sense that its creators took an enormous amount of pleasure from its creation. Remarkable simply because it was all brought together in about two weeks, and perfect as a vehicle for these two talented artists to do what they do best, this simple but effective response to La Monte Young's score made for a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The photo above by the way isn't actually of the B8016. I couldn't find a photo of it online. It is however another straight road on Islay, just a few miles North, and well, who would know?
Edit: Here's a pic of the road in question, kindly supplied by Armin. (see comments)