Aspects of Environmental Performance

The primary attribute of live location performance is that it is centred around the experience of now as a continual state of communion with the physical realm. My performances celebrate our continual presence in the environment, our responsibility for it, our perception of it, our reaction to and interaction with it. At the highest level it is an unfolding state of communion in recognition and celebration of our physical being, whilst potentially alluding to a myriad of symbolic or metaphoric narratives - historic, abstract and spiritual.

In the gradual execution of my work I am striving to establish a complete artform which, on the one hand may be singularly abstract - offering combinations of sounds with no history or attachment to their source (very much a Cagean approach) - or various heirarchies of narrative which the listener may wish to explore (a re-examination of the romantic approach). In many respects the perspective explored is due to the attitude of the listener for there is always the possibility of detached or attached perception and the artist may challenge or guide the path as the performance unfolds...

Perception is the key to my use of the binaural recording technique. By sampling the sound in my own ears and replaying the recording over headphones the listener has direct access to my perception and aural experience of the soundscape of the location and my performance in it. Uniquely it offers to the listener the perspective of the performing artist, rather than the perspective of a detached audience or observer. In a sense I become the archetype listener/performer, for my ears represent the ears of humanity and my performance the performance of humanity...

The performance is often (but not exclusively) based on a loose framework of form involving phases of search and discovery, listening and observation and communion through interaction. Work involving an unprepared location involves walking to a location, observing then interacting intuitively with found objects. Generally no instruments are employed neither are objects brought into or previously placed within the environment, exceptions are specified. Nothing has been set up beforehand.

A virgin performance is totally unprepared as above and takes place in an environment which has not been explored before the actual recorded or transmitted performance occurs. These recordings are done as a one-off single take. Successful virgin performances represent, in my personal opinion, the highest form of location performance.

In the prepared environment, objects or instruments may be placed within the environment to be explored and may be used as sound objects.

In the prepared performance the artist may carry "talisman" objects, instruments or sound objects for the purposes of meditation or performance. Some performances are "virgin prepared", that is a an unexplored environment into which I carry objects for the purposes of meditation and/or performence. (Not all performances are successful!!)

Performances may be solo or with groups of varying complexity. The vast majority of my works to date are solo performances.

Post Production

Any means of recording or transmission should provide an transparent conduit between the ears of the performer and the ears of the listener. The performance is in real time, therefore the recording should be unedited and not utilise any form of processing. That said it is often necessary to employ EQ to correct tonal emphasis, editing to remove technical glitches - connection clicks, motion dropouts and other technical artefacts. Of course such "errors" may be left at the discretion of the artist.

Some works involve prepared collages of unprocessed fragments from a variety of performances, locations and seasons and this represents a different form of composition to the one-off real time live performance.

At a personal level it may be necessary to remove inappropriate bouts of coughing, swallowing clicks, bodily function noises and other elements which may be deemed to interfere with the atmosphere, dignity or flow of aesthetic. Again it is open to the discretion of the artist. There should be no hard and fast rules.

Dallas Simpson