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20 November 2012

Insight: Sound Circus 2012 – an Outback odyssey

Interactive Ball at Cameron Corner Image: Interactive Ball at Cameron Corner  
© Keg de Souza

Jon Rose and his Sound Circus toured the Corner Country of the Australian Outback in September 2012. This unusually candid report from a touring group gives an idea of the reality of an Outback tour, from eyeopening encounters with local people, and the sheer magic of the landscape, to the exposure to wind, dust and the grit of your fellow travellers. Read also: Rishin Singh's tour diary on RealTime and more Insight articles by the AMC's represented artists.

There's something in the Australian air. On the whole, musicians from the metropolis have avoided the Outback in the past 200 years; the aspirations and most inspirations for a musical culture have always assumed overseas agency and sources, or anywhere, as long as it pointed far away from the NeverNever.

An investigative survey, of course, reveals 19th-century Australia as positively bubbling with live music. Broken Hill had a dozen brass bands and a town orchestra at the beginning of the 20th century. Just down the road, the ancient corroborees at Mutawintji featured up to 3,000 participants from many nations expressing knowledge, kinship, and joy through music and dance. Currently, there is gathering interest in at least getting Outback; the debate about what might be the appropriate music(s) to engage in there is still to happen. I know that improvising musician Jim Denley has been concerned with this issue for decades. Both the Australian Art Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra have recently set forth across the north-west of the continent with varying artistic results (even though it might be expected, I am not going to hold forth in critical analysis of what they did - that should be up to them). I'm still trying to figure out the benefits, drawbacks, and missed opportunities of Sound Circus - which, along with my colleague, Hollis Taylor, we organised earlier this year.

Video extracts from the Sound Circus tour (YouTube).

Hollis and I have travelled by now well over 50,000 kilometers creating The Fence Project, mapping the songs of the Pied Butcherbird, and other propositional music projects such as The Interactive Ball. So, we have a track record (and, in my case, a long one stretching back to some site specific Relative Violin projects of the 1970s and 1980s). We are committed to the idea that any expertise gained in these exploratory activities be transmitted to younger generations of musicians and sound artists. At least, that was the initial premise on which we invited eight other musicians and sound artists to join us in this little adventure. I wrote on the web page, 'Sound Circus is an expedition of self-education through empirical practice, sonic discovery, and exploration of artefact and environment, as well as a contemporary take on the notion of "singing up" a neglected part of our continent'. Yes, indeed…

First, a few facts and figures: the Sound Circus tour took place between 24 August and 17 September, creating some twenty sonic events, including concerts, workshops, and installations in the extreme northwest of New South Wales known as Corner Country. For logistical reasons, Hollis and I performed five concerts before the full circus arrived on location. The total audience figures were 553 counted.

Our biggest concerts took place at the White Cliffs Underground Festival - White Cliffs has a population of 83 (and only in the mining season). Our smallest audience was gleened in the ghost town of Milparinka where the audience was three, although I suspect that the other two members of the community (occupation: boiling kangaroos down to their constituent parts) were watching if not listening from a safe distance. Performing new, experimental, and improvised music (with a few traditional fiddle and musical saw pieces occasionally thrown into the mix) is by definition 'unpopular', so this is probably not a bad result. (I accept that the 700 punters who turned up to Tura's Sounds Outback at Wogarno Station in Western Australia in 2002 was a freak event of nature).

A singing saw lesson in Packsaddle
Jon Rose giving a singing saw lesson at Packsaddle.
© Hollis Taylor

An early highpoint in the tour was engaging with the 115 students tuned into our performance and talk at the School of the Air in Broken Hill. Along with Alfred Traeger's pedal powered generator (1926), the notion and realisation of SOTA (1951) happened first here in Australia… and it's a beauty - in many ways the educational precursor to the internet. Our contribution was not compulsory to the school curriculum, so we were delighted when the console lit up with questions, including one from a 5-year-old who drives a huge (and illegal) Hummer 4WD around her parents property. Radio transmission, communication, and music in my book equal a substantial heady mix.

We had already met one of the SOTA students at the Packsaddle Roadhouse earlier in the week. He and his brother are a bright pair, particularly taken with the mechanics of how musical instruments actually work; before it became an expensive icon, the violin, too, was a piece of technology to help with the dancing. Their family had travelled nearly two hours on unsealed roads to be there - and to visit the dancing cockatoo that will show off his moves when politely asked (dance cockie dance!). When locals spot the RFDS tin sitting on our table, they pop a few dollars in without being asked. We had already decided that, through the help of the funding bodies, we were bringing resources to this region, and weren't planning on taking anything home by charging at the door. Collecting for the Flying Doctor service seemed like a good community add-on for a musical service (even if the music was not necessarily something the locals might choose).

The grad students (from France, England, and Australia) in residence at the Fowlers Gap Research station concert were not of the same calibre as the two SOTA kids. Just when you think you're up for some intellectual curiosity, it's a fizz. What is it with university students these days? Not one question about any subject beyond their immediate course requirements and culinary desires; in fact, having a conversation seemed to be asking too much. Not so, the retired linesman from an audience of 45, at our first Broken Hill Art Gallery concert. Commenting on the musical fences presentation, he launched into an astonishing scientific rave about conducting sonic tests on loading cables to determine grout ratios and tension compressions… he lost me about halfway through.

Ruth Sandow is our tour manager and local contact. We had intended to play a concert on her station and get a ride in her husband's plane to play the Dingo Fence on Lake Frome. But the sheep marking has been moved forward because of the early spring; the season is too good too soon. They are flat out, and so the music will have to wait for another occasion. I'm trying to recall a time when sheep have had such a profound impact on my concert schedule. Never mind - we have extra days to prepare for the White Cliffs festival, which is the central event of the tour.

The start is not auspicious. Having written to members of Sound Circus not to drive at night, they do, of course, and inevitably hit a kangaroo who is not familiar with the highway code. The White Cliffs hotel is very generous to the latecomers, offering rooms at $20 each instead of their normal $100 - imagine that happening in Sydney.

The workshop next morning kicks off with a visiting, part white/part Indigenous school group from Ivanhoe (ages 12-17) - a town even more remote than White Cliffs. It's an intensive session in which the saw, the gumleaf, the trumpet (with many polythene tube attachments), the light controlled electronic bending circuit boards, the monochord, the fiddle, the mobile polystyrene sound sculptures, the trombone, the cassette tape scratching, the amplified glass, plus aural and acoustic exercises, all get a work out.

As the extended trumpet is whirled around, the kids start shouting out 'It's a fly, a helicopter, something wet, breathing, it's the wind'. Lunch becomes a full-on cricket game. The connection between Sound Circus and the kids is immediate - it's like this happens every day. In the afternoon, we workshop with the local White Cliff kids - there are ten of them, that's the whole school! The Ivanhoe kids prepare to leave, and a quiet, awkward boy has been earmarked for the speech; he looks like he has been sweating on this all day! He formally thanks us for coming so far - so sweet. Normally, this kind of music doesn't get much in the way of public thanks - quite the opposite.

White Cliffs School students with Dale Gorfinkel's sonic sculptures
White Cliffs School students with Dale Gorfinkel's sonic sculptures.
© Hollis Taylor

Dale Gorfinkel:

A highlight for me was the school workshops in White Cliffs and Tibooburra. I think we presented the kids with a very engaging program. I have presented school workshops in the past but this was the first time I have conducted them collaboratively with other artists. I feel that there is a lot of potential to further develop the program and tour it through schools, particularly in regional Australia. It is also very rewarding to see how kids respond to our work, and to feel that as artists and educators we are inspiring curiosity and creativity in young people.

Keg de Sousa:

I feel one of the most successful aspects of the tour was the workshops with the children, they were a very engaged audience. These workshops allowed time for them to make their own music and interact not only with us, but with a variety of instruments and objects to make sound. These interactions were genuine and had a feeling of reciprocity, as we benefited greatly from spending time with the kids, not just musically but also experiencing a taste of the differences of our own city upbringing to children's life in regional Australia.

Renowned amplified glass screamer Lucas Abela is also stunned by acceptance:

...surreal really, if it wasn't Outback kids I'm not sure it would have been a good idea as I can just imagine if I did this in Sydney, and any of the kids decided to try it at home, I would be in so much trouble, but something about these kids and the adults there made it ok.

In the evening, Dr Hollis Taylor delivers her public lecture to a packed room at the National Parks Centre: The Nature of Music and The Music of Nature, based on her exhaustive research into birdsong. The formidable manager of the centre, Shirley Meyer, is keen to have the facilities used as a sound venue right through the festival. Unbeknownst to us, Shirley will appear stark naked and painted in the Gala event two nights hence.

Sound Circus rehearses for the Gala night. It doesn't go well. The difference between practising, rehearsal, soundcheck, and performance seems lost on most members of the group. They are also unable or unwilling to adapt their music and aesthetics to fit in with what is primarily a variety show with our largest potential audience. This is probably my fault, as I don't seem to be able to explain the situation in the short time available: that this is a professional gig that we have been invited on; that it is not our show but I think we have the opportunity to contribute with a series of entertaining sonic novelty acts.

Novelty in this context is the medium. I realise later that none of them have ever played in an RSL club before - the significant performance link to the 19th-century music hall (the book that makes all the links between 20th-century extended performance techniques and the novelties of the 19th-century music hall has yet to be written). I make the rounds asking them if they are going to do it or not, the consensus is a 'no'. I guess an old-time bandleader would have fired them on the spot, but I'm trying to encourage a free thinking explorative collaboration in an environment clearly outside their comfort zone. There is no model.

Lucas Abela screaming into his amplified glass
Lucas Abela screams into amplified glass at White Cliffs.
© Nick Shimmin

Lucas Abela:

We sound-checked for the opening night but chickened out last minute from doing tiny vignettes between Jon and Hollis songs. It just didn't feel right during rehearsal and I guess we all felt strange about giving such short representations of what we did. After the night was over I really wished we'd spoken up more and discussed our issues as I think the audience there was open to what we do and would have appreciated it immensely under the right circumstances.

Rishin Singh:

We rehearse in White Cliffs community hall for our performance the next night as part of the Underground Arts Festival launch. We're framed as a Sound Circus, 'which makes us Sound Clowns' somebody jokes. Jon wants us to individually play 30-second interrupting segments of strange sounds during his and Hollis's performance of folk tunes on the piano and singing saw. The general circus/vaudeville structure imposes duration on us that is antithetical to the way we usually play. The next day, a couple of hours before our vaudeville act is to begin, Jon asks us if we want to back out. We collectively say 'yes'.

The previous day Rishin reports,

Over breakfast there are some concerns around how people are going to react to us. Sam wonders, 'Are we here to entertain?' I say, 'We're not entertainers.' Lucas disagrees; he's experimental and entertaining.

Dale Gorfinkel:

I was a bit disappointed not to have played on the Saturday night in White Cliffs. I know a couple of the artists had felt uncomfortable in that context and Jon had made the decision that it was everyone or no-one. Personally I like to play for new audiences. I would have been happy to play in collaboration or solo. Perhaps if there was a bit more room for some collective decision making we could have come up with an interesting performance.

Sam Pettigrew:

The vaudeville act… interesting questions about comfort, agency, intention, and artistic practise. Why do I feel comfortable doing what I do in the sanctuary of the inner-west art scene but not for a new, entirely unknown audience? Do I feel like they won't get it? What do I want them to get?

Well, we'll never know, but 140 people missed a glimpse of the sheer sonic variety on offer from Sound Circus. In the end, Hollis and I play four tunes that I used to play in Club Marconi, Sydney, in the 1970s. Horses for courses. The Gala night itself would have been right at home in any club of that epoch: two singers channelling Liza Minnelli and Shirley Bassey; some wild creations for the local head-dress competition, all having trouble getting through the gap in the stage curtain which has stopped functioning and is held by large safety pins; overt displays of theatrical sexuality complete with a 'silver fox'; the body-art compo winner is definitely 60-year-old Shirley from National Parks, resplendent as an Egyptian goddess complete with subservient male attendant on the end of a chain.

Evening with the ABC at the disused solar power station at White Cliffs
Evening with the ABC at the disused solar power station at White Cliffs.
© Nick Shimmin

Late agreement from ABC management allows the presence of Jane Ulman, Philip Ulman, and Julian Day at White Cliffs. It is possible, after all, to add a live and recorded radiophonic component to Sound Circus through Radio National and ABC FM - plus all the plethora of internet platforms. In the spectacular setting of the disused solar power station (Why disused in a time of environmental meltdown? Don't go there.), the voices of White Cliffs ring forth into the night sky. Many stories are told. It is moving and a number of residents openly weep. The solar dishes are lit up in budget blue - could have done with yet more lighting me thinks.

Prior to this, there are speeches in the community hall, including one from the local MP who has lost his voice but gives the speech anyway - an unexpected and delightful sprechstimme croaking event. I ask Rishin to announce the opening of the art show with a fanfare on his trombone - he obliges. Art show is mixed quality - some good Aboriginal painting from down the road at Wilcannia. My favourite exhibit is a child's doll stuffed into an ill-fitting teapot. The Sound Circus improvises a minimal marching band that leads most of the locals to the radiophonic event - sort of pied piper for inebriated adults - it works. Not exactly Rio, but definitely some sort of dancing in the streets.

The next day White Cliffs is gently, gently 'sung up' with both morning and afternoon sessions. The wind also makes its presence even more felt as sonic events well up from odd corners around town. Keg and Lucas set up the inflatable and roomy Gig-loo, housing helium-balloon powered cassette scratching. I'm impressed, as it all works despite the strong wind gusts. It's the ultimate in hands on sound edutainment. The festival director's dog steals the show as helium balloons attached to discarded cassette tapes attached to canine jaws are pulled this way and that across the tape heads.

Joel Stern and Dale have light-enabled electronics and sound sculptures set up in the National Parks Center, it's a compelling duo of old and new technologies in a fast exchange. Rishin and Laura Altman interrogate the acoustics of a ruined house complete with a narrative from a local citizen who speaks in a hush as to the building's demise; there is a quietened and expectant atmosphere despite a plethora of cameras.

Sam Pettigrew and I play the fence behind the community center as, across the road, a local is bashing away rhythmically at an old wreck, or maybe it's just his car. Dale is now occupying a cubbyhouse in the school grounds, which acts as an acoustic loudspeaker for his vibraphone; it all makes sense, but only if you are here. The audience comes and goes. A few have come all the way from Sydney. Some ponder; others shut their eyes, listening.

Improvisation in White Cliffs; it's a fit. A town of semi-aural culture where there are no street or place names - 'turn right at the car wreck on Bill's place and it's a bit further up on the left'. This place is bursting with so many stories, almost none of them written down - including the one about the bloke who served time in jail for castrating one of his neighbours.

Dale Gorfinkel and Laura with their instruments in the dry riverbed
Dale Gorfinkel and Laura Altman in the dry riverbed at White Cliffs.
© Nick Shimmin

Laura Altman:

I honestly didn't know quite what to expect on many levels. This lack of knowing presented challenges with generally positive outcomes. It was great to be forced to make sense of new creative situations… Interactions with the local community had a tremendous influence on me. The project had me re-evaluating my notions of audience, their importance and function, and influence on the music.

Some members of Sound Circus relate to the logic of this and walk off to start their afternoon improvisation in a dried creekbed behind a sad-looking former Shell service station. However, they haven't alerted their audience, who are waiting on a street corner, to the change of venue. Over the next 60 minutes the audience slowly materialises; they get it, the music is embedded (or lost) in the environment. Sam sits immobilised for an eternity poised to play the acoustic guitar - but did he? asks someone.

Gay Nicholls, the White Cliffs resident and former postmistress who organised the art show:

I then followed a group who headed off down the dry creekbed at the back of the pub and was blown away by that experience. I was beginning to understand. It's sounds coming out of and enhancing the environmental sounds - the whispering wind through the trees, the birds, people shuffling and so on. Which only got better at the next venue - the disused petrol outlet. I loved it, loved it. It didn't start or end - it was just there and then it was gone - and we were part of it. Just wonderful.

As Lucas screams into his amplified glass on the main street, an old miner drinks from his glass outside the pub and reckons he knows a thing or two about talent contests. A got up game of noise-interactive-pool in the bar lounge causes not so much as a murmur, like it's always been there. Locals silently register the audio intrusion and then put some more coins in the equally noisy poker machine in the next room.

The wind is up. In fact, it is at us for the rest of the tour almost without respite. The 2.4-metre high interactive ball is looking for an outing, but with these conditions, it won't happen today, even though we have the thistle-infested Bill O'Reilly Oval and derelict tennis court at our disposal. As the wind sustains its constant roar in the ears, Lucas yells at me, 'What do you want from us, Jon?'

It's hard for a rebellious youth from the 1960s to accept, but I realise there is a generation gap between Hollis and me, and the rest of Sound Circus. Actually, more of a chasm than a gap. Weather can hit at any time and cancel whatever you thought you were going to do. So time is a precious commodity in the Outback, and you have to be able to travel light and make fast and efficient decisions. We are gobsmacked when told that everyone on tour (except us) expects to spend time preparing and eating three cooked meals a day.

This is how others perceived their time management on this tour:

Keg de Sousa:

In most situations, there was often limited time allocated for the audience to interact with the Gig-loo/Mixtape installation as there seemed to often be a structure to the events that allocated set times to each performer. And as the installation was something that was geared to allowing the audience to interact with the installation for musical play, rather than be played to, this was slightly problematic.

Dale Gorfinkel:

The nature of our trip resulted in parts of the journey feeling a bit rushed. Mutawintji National Park and the gorge were spectacular but playing music here for 15 mins was far too brief. It was a shame that we didn't have an opportunity to deeply engage with the rich Indigenous history of this area. Perhaps that could have been on the official agenda.

Joel Stern, however, seemed to find enough time:

I met and spent time with a number of locals, and we shared ideas about art, culture, ethics, economics and other matters over beer and food. In White Cliffs, I visited the painter Jim Harris, a retired trucker who has never exhibited, after seeing his magnificent outsider-surrealist painting 'Hungry Jacks' at the White Cliffs underground festival. I performed experimental works in the White Cliffs pub and Ranger's station, and spoke with the festival curator about her vision for a new movement in monumental 'Outback land art.'

Rishin Singh meets residents at White Cliffs
Rishin Sing at White Cliffs.
© Nick Shimmin

Rishin Singh

Having scratched the surface, today we argued about how we would organise Sound Circus next time. Grand plans of lengthy residencies in remote communities where we would have more time to engage with people and the environment are bandied about as if adequate funding and available dates are already a concrete reality.

I think Rishin locates the answer about the way Sound Circus has to fit with funding body expectations. It is unlikely that anyone is going to finance us to stay in one town for three weeks and play music when, how, and where we feel like it. If I was a funder, I wouldn't buy that either. Hollis and I have been supported sometimes, but much of our Outback work has been self-financed - and that constraint is not a bad one to have to live within - we don't have a trust fund and travelling Outback is expensive. Hence, the old maxim rings true in the Outback, if not more so - time is money. And yet within that narrow window of opportunity, we need time and space to explore always. It's a tough juggling act.

When Hollis and I visited Mutawintji National Park last time, we met a great Indigenous guide, Gerald Quale, who I interviewed at length over the next days in Broken Hill about many aspects of the park and the nature of the 'look, listen, and learn' Barkindji teaching systems. I was hoping for a similar experience when we programmed Mutawintji for Sound Circus this time. It was not to be, as there are no full-time guides right now (we find out late as Hollis and I were already in Broken Hill fixing up the next gig).

Most in Sound Circus spoke of their disappointment. We are part of the wound that desperately wants to heal. I have worked with Indigenous Australians in various projects over the years, and, if they are not to be tokenistic meetings, the one requirement common is that of contributing substantial amounts of time to any encounter, time not available on a tour such as Sound Circus. The Indigenous meetings didn't happen, except with the kids from Ivanhoe.

Laura Altman and Joel Stern performing at the Broken Hill Art Gallery
Laura Altman and Joel Stern performing at the Broken Hill Art Gallery
© Hollis Taylor

The second concert at Broken Hill Art Gallery strikes most of the Circus as approaching normal territory; the music is well conceived and utilises the space, the audience dutifully contribute to the RFDS tin, more exotic accommodation as the band has moved from a White Cliffs dugout to the legendary Mario's Hotel (Priscilla Queen of the Desert fame), Lucas points out that the Art Gallery manager is an avid gun collector.

The next stop five hours away at the ghost town of Milparinka is anything but normal. Hollis and I performed here twice in the ten-year drought, once to inaugurate the new fence for the graveyard, once for their equivalent of the Easter show that featured the flying padre. Despite being attacked by a squadron of mosquitoes, group improvisations are mediated around and in the restored courthouse and police cells. Musical explorations in a place of ghosts, once home to a thriving but deluded population of several thousand, drift into the night. I'm not sure if I'm hearing it awake or dreaming it.

Laura Altman:

Artist or entertainer? While an audience and the varied responses/interpretations can really shape the overall experience of music, it was interesting also to come to terms with performing to nobody, or just each other. At times, just having each other as audience members was really special and constructive, although this was difficult due to varying levels of patience among the group.

The next morning the wind is not taking prisoners. I amplify the fence around the graveyard, the wind howls, a loud aeolian minor third fills the air, the clouds race across the sky, and a family is standing immobile - grieving by a recently dug grave.

Sam Pettigrew:

The graveyard fence: an interesting exercise in negotiating what we were doing there. If we are to cross the line between performance, installation, participation, or just playing, I think that needs to be a desired element. What does it mean to have a ghost town but an active graveyard, and how can that be respected and interrogated within an art form?

Jon Rose plays the fence at White Cliffs
Jon Rose plays the fence at White Cliffs.
© Nick Shimmin

Another fence awaits us, the big one: 4,500 Kilometers of dog (or dingo) fence. The wind doesn't let up as members of Sound Circus figure out how to play it, how to deal with this stark artifact. Joel is content to record, Rishin throws stones carefully into a beer bottle wedged in the wires, some of us grab fence and sway with wind, Laura and Keg attack with Sam's double bass bows and the fence screams, while Lucas determines three strategies of circus sonification: 1. Bite fence (as in 'man bites dog' fence); 2. Run at fence causing noisy collision; 3. Climb over fence without causing hole in pants and return to get away car via the gate a few meters away.

Sam is not amused, here is a fence with serious history and we are running into it, throwing stones at it, there must be a more meaningful way to connect. 'Jon, didn't you have a plan for this, something with standing waves? I know you don't want to push it, but some direction might be useful.' I keep my own counsel. They have to create with the situation as they find it; I already tried the mentoring angle with no obvious benefit.

Meanwhile, Tibooburra awaits us. This school is barely hanging on; there are eight kids, and it no longer runs its School of the Air program. But students and parents are there for us. The Gig-loo erupts into shape and the workshop begins. The interactive ball gets a good run on the school oval chased by screaming kids, occasionally flattening those who run in from the wrong side. Shut your eyes and it's a concert of contemporary electronic music. One of the teachers brings out her bagpipes. The tour highlight, judging by everyone's comments, remains the immediate joyous relationships built quick time between the Circus and the various groups of children met along the way. At the evening performance, the same kids play all over the main street without a care in the world, unimaginable in a big city.

Hollis is up at 5am to record the two Pied Butcherbirds she has seen on the previous evening. They are virtuosic in their duetting, and as with most others of their species, they have their own unique lines and dialect. The concert lasts 90 minutes. It is rigorous, and they perform with a sense of theatre - indeed, their survival depends on it.

And so we are off to the Mecca of fenceworld. In 1880 John Brewer Cameron started walking west in a straight line along the 29th parallel; at the 141st meridian, for no really sane reason, he stuck a post in the ground, turned left, and kept going for an awful long time. Actually, he stuck the corner post in the wrong place, but what's a few yards in the middle of a desert? Three state border fences meet here and combine with the Dingo Fence. Cameron Corner is psychic territory that gives agency to anyone who doesn't believe their map. The thermometer is regularly stuck at 120 Fahrenheit in the summer months.

Interactive Ball at Cameron Corner.
Interactive Ball at Cameron Corner.
© Keg de Souza

As we journey towards the Corner, the audience appears to be leaving - we pass eight cars heading out - that's a lot of audience out here. Despite the numbers, the inflatable Gig-loo goes up for the last time, bad software glitch causes problems for the Interactive ball, and there is no time to fix it as the sun is dropping fast. We have arrived too late. Joel starts transmitting the Corner soundtrack, and it's time to play ball. But no - the wind gets up and the dysfunctional ball is speeding on its way to Queensland chased by a sheep dog who thinks he is mustering a very big sheep. As the wind powers the 2.4-metre white ball past the Cameron Corner bar, the patrons piss themselves laughing.

Lucas takes a whip-cracking lesson from a local expert and then joins the improvisation next to Cameron's historic fence post.

Joel Stern observes:

The vastness and openness of the spaces we encountered served to generate an atmosphere of wonder and contemplation in our group. I started to think about new works spatially and temporally in ways that would have been impossible in other environments…On a massive clay pan I set up a transmitting device and receiving amplifier and 'sent' sounds back and forth across the vast flat in a series of echoing configurations.

Despite my personal frustrations with the slow operational aspects of this tour (we ran out of time and had to give Innamincka a miss), I'm not cured of my insatiable appetite for creating opportunities, occasions, and sonic works in the Outback. We were lucky on this trip - no accidents, no boggings, no snake bites, and only one flat tire - much music heard, much music created - an introduction to possibility.

AMC resources

Jon Rose - AMC profile
Hollis Taylor - AMC profile
More Resonate articles by Jon Rose: 'The Ball Project' (31 March 2011); 'Jon Rose in pursuit of music with socio-political intent' (6 May 2009); 'Team Music, Kite Music and Digger Music' (17 October 2008)
'Birdsong in the Outback' - an article on Resonate by Hollis Taylor (17 October 2008)
'Jon Rose's joyous resistance' - an article on Resonate by Richard Toop (21 March 2012)
'Larrikin par excellence' - an article on Resonate by Martin Wesley-Smith (21 March 2012)
'Post Impressions - a travel guide for tragic intellectuals' - an article on Resonate by Hollis Taylor (18 September 2007)

Further links

Jon Rose (www.jonroseweb.com)
Video extracts of Sound Circus (Youtube)
Rishin Singh's diary from Sound Circus ON RealTime Arts
WRECK 11-17 January 2013 (performances 11-13 Jan) - Carriageworks, as part of the Sydney Festival.
One of White Cliffs classic car wrecks will be installed and performed in Carriageworks as part of the Sydney Festival. The mining town of White Cliffs is surrounded by wrecks, and Sound Circus is planning to bring one of these wrecks back to Sydney where it will be installed, performed, sonified. The WRECK is utilised both as originator of sound sources, and it becomes also the amplifier of its emotive rattles, buzzes, hums, furious metallic rhythms and disturbing shakes. WRECK sings up the quiet fragile creaks of old age to rock and roll levels of destructive vibration. WRECK situates itself somewhere between a DB drag race, exercises in entropy, and a celebration of the Outback: a sensational Outback to city multi-media experience.


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