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Noise that matters in Bendigo

Tara Gilbee

Jacques Soddell, 24 gestures (for giussepe chiari) from The Piano Room Jacques Soddell, 24 gestures (for giussepe chiari) from The Piano Room
undue noise began in 1999 as a forum for local experimental underground/electronic musicians in the central Victorian town of Bendigo and surrounding areas. This year’s Remembrance of Things Past was organised by Jacques Soddell at the Allans Walk artist run space.

The Walk was named after the Allans music store that once occupied the building. It comprises neglected arcades, their stained glass windows painted over, a false ceiling installed over the balcony, and balustrades and staircase removed to a storehouse. Bendigo once boomed as an outpost to Melbourne and still shares similarities with it from the infancy of their commercial growth. Although now a large urban regional centre, Bendigo strangely juxtaposes past and present. undue noise’s 4-part exhibition reflects this schism in various ways.

Soddell’s exhibition, The Piano Room, originated in the history of the store’s piano room. In a partly archival presentation it documents the movement of the piano from its status as a universal domestic object through to its modernist reworkings. The Piano Room references John Cage’s 4’33”, prepared piano and the Fluxus movement (especially George Macuinas, La Monte Young, George Brecht, Giuseppe Chiari). Documents of the Fluxus movement are accompanied by a small video work which shows Sonic Youth dismembering the keyboard of a piano, and the immortal image of the little boy playing in the Dr Seuss tale 5000 fingers of Dr T. These capture the theatricality and anxiety that a piano can generate as a monolithic instrument that has to be mastered, even defeated.

In another section of the space a delightful work engages the audience. As an interactive tribute to Baranoff-Rosine’s Piano Opto-phonique (1923), Soddell has created a synthesiser keyboard that, when touched, manipulates projected computer generated images. These were based on the visuals from the first exploration by the opto-phonique, a tool to explore the relationship between sound and light.

In a corner, music faintly emanates from a shopping bag containing baguette and book. Soddell’s Deconstruction of Claude Debussy’s hommage to Rameau is a captivating, quietly, poetic sound installation that demands attention to the internal nature of music and the way it travels with us in the everyday. The subtle interplay of sounds throughout Sodell’s exhibition brought past and present together, our understanding of music today heightened by echoes from the past.

Paul Fletcher’s Time Decomposing, was a subtle and evocative installation using sounds (including the recollections of a retired worker) and images (on video) from the building’s past. Fletcher describes the work as “a decomposing time capsule.” The other works in the undue noise festival were midden me thus and other dreamings, an installation with loungeroom ambience combining optigan (for ‘optical organ’, a 70s home keyboard based on film soundtrack technology) and artworks by double other (Justin Bull, Kenneth Gordon and Mark Else); and Jason Waters’ engaging Organization of Transport & Exchange with its reflections on the impact of the synthesizer with apt historical reference to Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey (1969).

The sound works in undue noise invited interaction and encouraged contemplation, exploring the building that housed them and the many ways in which sound plays a role in an everyday built on the past and its dreams of tomorrow.

Remembrance of Things Past: undue noise festival, Allans Walk, Bendigo, May 11-June 14

RealTime issue #68 Aug-Sept 2005 pg. 48

© Tara Gilbee; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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