(with Andrew Byrne) Lines towards another century, 2008

An instruction-based score for live reading, string quartet and recorded voice, performed in a configuration of four video projections, four monitors and speakers.

Exh.: Lines towards another century, curated by Bridget Crone and commissioned by Media Art Bath, performed with the Elysian Quartet and Oliver Langdon, The Holburne Museum, Bath, 22 June 2008, with an exhibition of the performance's traces 24 June - 6 July 2008.

In late 2007, Media Art Bath invited Tom Nicholson and the New York based composer Andrew Byrne to collaborate on the development of a new work – an instructional score for instrumental ensemble and voice. The resulting work, Lines Towards Another Century, was performed on 22 June 2008 at the Holburne Museum, Bath, with the Elysian Quartet and the actor Oliver Langdon. The configuration in which the performance took place – including four video projections on to free-standing screens, four monitors, and speakers for four recorded voices – reimagined as a trace of the performance for a two-week exhibition.

The work evolved around Nicholson’s catalogue of instances of the creation of national boundaries since 1901, a list which has served as the basis of several works, as well as Byrne and Nicholson’s first collaborative work in 2006. The performance begins with the actor Oliver Langdon, situated in the middle of the installation, reading this list, a task which he undertakes continuously during the performance and which provides the work’s duration. Four silent videos of single faces reading the list are successively turned on around the space. The Elysian Quartet, performing Byrne’s instructional score, and recordings of four voices intoning the list across four notes, join – and slowly overwhelm – the sound of Langdon’s voice. As the work approaches an immersive field of sound the four video projections are activated, each featuring footage of banner marches undertaken by Nicholson in different cities in Australia as part of an ongoing series of actions. The sound begins to recede as the recorded voices subside, the Elysian quartet gradually become silent, the images are switched off, and the piece ends with only Langdon, still reading, as he completes the final two pages of the list.

Click here for Media Art Bath director Bridget Crone's catalogue essay.

The work was reviewed by Chris Fite-Wassilakin Frieze, and in Art and Australia.


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