Great Noises that Fill the Air, Bow Gamelan Ensemble

Cooper Gallery at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee is staging Great Noises that Fill the Air, the first retrospective of influential artist collective Bow Gamelan Ensemble (Anne Bean, Paul Burwell, Richard Wilson). Utilising found objects, invented instruments and everyday sound, Bow Gamelan Ensemble have, since 1983, inspired generations of artists with their radical collaborative and cross-disciplinary practice. 

Embodying an urgently creative and discursive space resonating with improvisation, camaraderie, provocation and antagonism, Bow Gamelan Ensemble is driven by the uniquely subversive and collective sensibilities of founder members Bean, Burwell and Wilson.

Charged with their individual virtuosity in performance art, avant-garde music and kinetic sculpture, Bow Gamelan Ensemble’s sound installations and performances are immersed in an orchestra of instruments made from scrap metal, electric motors, river barges and domestic objects including glass sheets, light bulbs and fireworks. With this passionate and radical sojourn in the possibilities of sound and light, Great Noises that Fill the Air engineers a live interrogation of the dissonance between ‘noise’ and ‘meaningful utterance’ that astonishes the ears and ravishes the imagination with unearthly magic.

Since Burwell’s passing (2007), Anne Bean, Richard Wilson and the Estate of Paul Burwell have worked with archivists to preserve and organise the group’s extensive archive, and at the loud heart of Great Noises that Fill the Air is a radical take on archival display. Acting as a ‘symbolic score’ heralding new ways of perceiving and creating sound, this newly commissioned kinetic sound installation Bow Lines features sketches, photographs and ephemera from Bow Gamelan Ensemble’s archive placed on ‘music stands’ and bracketed by two giant “thunder sheets”. Underscored by the tumultuous din of their experimental collaborations this collaborative acoustic instrument was activated live by Anne Bean and Richard Wilson at the opening ceremony of the exhibition, filling Cooper Gallery with a vast spectrum of sound rippling on the cusp of meaning.

Underpinned by Bow Gamelan Ensemble’s ethos and practice, an expanded event series is transforming Great Noises that Fill the Air into an open ‘jamming studio’, including an open call for experimental noise for a listening event on 29 November and a workshop on ‘sonic meditation’ and scoring by artist and musician Ariki Porteous on 5 December.

Acting as a coda to the project the symposium, Scoring Noise  on 24 November brings artists, thinkers, theorists and musicians together in a live act resonating with improvisation, camaraderie, provocation and antagonism. Foregrounding the score as an always provisional starting point, this ‘jamming’ symposium includes live performances by emerging experimental musicians Ceylan Hay, Tina Krekels & Adam Campbell and performative presentations by Sam Ainsley & David Harding, Anne Bean & Richard Wilson, Graham Fagen, Rob La Frenais and David Toop. 

Categories: Featured Activity

Date Posted: 21 November 2018