Emma Dortins mixes history and art…
A hesitant hand clap, silence, another clap followed by another, a shuffle and guffaw, more confident clapping, a whoop and smattering of laughter as the claps develop a pattern. This is one of the recordings sound artist and clarinet player Laura Altman (LINK) and I have filed away in our creative sound archive of Freshly Squeezed 2015.
Freshly Squeezed is an annual event at PACT Theatre and aims to support emerging artists in making a work and then to showcase it. This year, Freshly Squeezed is based in collaboration (LINK). Alongside Laura and me, a mathematician is working with a dancer; a speech pathologist with a voice artist; a duo who produce innovative theatre with an academic and social entrepreneur.
Inspired both by my doctoral work on the retelling of stories and Laura’s improvisation practice, we’re exploring ideas around recording, replaying and re-hearing by making a cumulative record of Laura’s clarinet playing in the distinctively porous PACT Theatre space. At the same time, we’ve been recording the sounds of collaboration as the Freshly Squeezed teams come together to test ideas and experiment with each other as a first-draft audience. In our sound ‘archive’, we’re aiming to capture some of the aspects of theatrical performance and improvised music that usually remain ephemeral – though what might be known from mining such an archive remains to be seen.
It’s been really interesting finding common ground with Laura. I usually think of my work as leading to an explanation or a story, while Laura’s work is non-narrative, focussing on the unfolding texture and form of sound. But we’ve found a shared interest in the immediate past. It’s also been quite a challenge communicating with non-historians about how historians do research, and the nature of the collections we access and contribute to (and that some PHA members curate and build). Thinking about how preserving impromtu and incidental sounds might add to an understanding of the past (or not!) has also been very stimulating.
On 20 and 21 February we’ll be sharing parts of our archive with audiences at PACT Theatre, Erskineville.
(Image: Emma Dortins, left, with Laura Altman)