Art lecturer’s work on the national stage

BAS8 Edinburgh_Chris Park_SIMPSON _ WHITE 1

WORK BY a Manchester School of Art lecturer is currently on show as part of one of the country’s most prestigious art exhibitions.

Senior Lecturer Eileen Simpson has collaborated with Ben White for the British Art Show 8, with a piece titled Auditory Learning which features eight modified turntables playing a new composition assembled from notes taken from popular chart hit singles from 1962. The work is designed to change and develop throughout the exhibition’s tour.

Auditory Learning is part of an ongoing project, the Open Music Archive, where they source, digitise and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings. These shared resources are then used as a vehicle to initiate further creative collaborations.

Eileen said: “Ben and I have been working together since 2005. Our collaboration grew out of a mutual interest in archival recordings and a desire to research, source and work with material together, and to work with others.

“Our projects nearly always respond to a very particular context, and often to a particular set of archive material and unfold following a period of research. We work with a range of people including electronic musicians, vocalists, emcees, designers, choreographers and cinematographers.”

1962 is the last year that commercial recordings can be retrieved for public use, due to recent copyright revisions. Eileen and Ben we have extracted over 50,000 sounds to produce a ‘public sonic inventory’.

Eileen said that the purpose of the work was to attempt to extract what is public from what is private.

She said: “As artists, we’re interested in thinking through ideas around the authorship, ownership and distribution of art and exploring networks of collaborative production and free distribution. The default position for most art production, even in today’s increasingly networked and digital world, follows the logic of copyright and the language of the market, through the carefully controlled circulation of unique artworks or limited editions.

Auditory Learning also responds a particular moment – a recent extension of copyright. Things don’t stand still. Public resources aren’t fixed and the public domain is a shifting terrain. Many of our recent projects work with future dates, arrived at due to legal restrictions. The dates project forward from the archive to a future public and this provokes the question of how the future will be and what restrictions and freedoms will be in place.”

The show, which opens in Norwich tomorrow (June 24), has already toured to Leeds and Edinburgh, and will move on to Southampton in October.

The project will culminate with a film and soundtrack that the duo are currently working on with a group of teenagers in Southampton. This will be exhibited for the last leg of the BAS8 tour in Southampton. The materials, audio recordings, performances, and film that are being produced for the project, will remain open for future use – awaiting their potential uses and audiences.