Wednesday 26 April 2023, 8pm

Music and Other Living Creatures x EnCOUnTERs: Syntax of a RiverDavid Chapman + Laura Denning + Sonia Levy

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David Chapman
The Marsh

The Marsh works with material filmed and recorded on wetlands around Christchurch Harbour, Dorset. These patches of nature exist side by side with residential occupation and high levels of leisure use. They are refuges for both wildlife and those seeking pleasure from it.

In The Marsh sound and images are recorded separately. The relation between the two is associative, not temporal. The images offer no spatial continuity. Rather, they suggest that through close attention to small patches of habitat a sense of wildernesses can emerge amidst the commotion of human activity. In this sense the film is perhaps Arcadian in intent, reminding us how familiar landscapes can become places of exploration, imagination and memory. However, this idea is tempered by knowledge that some of the species recorded for the film have only settled in the area during the last few decades, drifting northward due to climate change and habitat loss. The pleasure of hearing these species is off-set by the realisation that they are also symptoms of largescale destructive changes.

Laura Denning
Oxidental Bodies

A duet with the red soil of South Devon. Using moving image, sediments of sonic imagination and live performance, Oxidental Bodies is a sensory exploration of our relationship with deep time, with a focus on the 380 million year old ocean mud that covers this region. The colouration of the soil is due to iron chemicals only found in deserts. The chemicals were leached out of the overlying desert rocks, which moved around over the surface of the globe, pushed around by convection currents of hot semi fluid rocks rising and falling deep within the earth’s interior. The Devonian rocks were originally in the tropics of the southern hemisphere.

This intimate, sensory performance compresses time and wears it on the body, as wet rust and earthly memory.

Sonia Levy
For the Love of Corals
Artist film

Behind the scenes, in the basement of the Horniman Museum and Gardens in London, a team of marine biologists and aquarists have initiated Project Coral, a leading endeavour to breed corals ex-situ, in specially designed tanks. By mirroring the climatic conditions — seasonal temperature changes, solar irradiance, and, lunar cycles — of the Great Barrier Reef within custom-built mesocosms, the team has become the first in the world to induce corals to spawn in a laboratory

Levy has followed Project Coral as a case study of new paradigms for multispecies living, restoration ecology and natural history emerging in the wake of environmental breakdowns. For the Love of Corals is a cinematic inquiry that focuses on the daily labour of caring for endangered beings to resurrect them from their imminent extinction.

Soundtrack and located sound by Jez riley French.
Music by Georgia Rodgers.

For the Love of Corals: An Ecology of Perhaps
Performance for voice & tuba

For the Love of Corals: An Ecology of Perhaps are polyphonic writings taking as their starting point Derek Walcott's famous poem, The Sea is History (1979), to weave together Levy's research at the Horniman Museum for her film For the Love of Corals, with ruminations by the philosopher Martin Savransky on the precarious lives of corals in the ecological hold of a perhaps, of the faint possibility of inhabiting the Earth otherwise.

Text in collaboration with Martin Savransky.
Music by Georgia Rodgers. Partial Filter performed by Alexander Glyde-Bates (tuba).

Music and Other Living Creatures is a series at Cafe OTO (curated by OTO Projects) dedicated to music about, with, or by other living creatures. Birds, tigers, chickens, insects and many other living creatures are explored through sound-walks, listening sessions, commissioned performances, live responses and discussions.

EnCOUnTERs is a series of inter-disciplinary events that reside at the intersection between inter- and intra-species encounter and the sonic imagination. Events direct attention to curiosity, the speculative as well as the scientific, and to notions of multiplicity of being, experience and philosophy surveying creative and research-based practices that reference aspects of ecology, ethology and other creature-ologies, bioart and bioacoustics, sound/scape studies, zoömusicology, ethnobotany, critical plant studies, and related fields.

EnCOUnTERs is curated by Helen Frosi (SoundFjord).


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David Chapman

David Chapman is a filmmaker, sound artist and researcher based in London. Through film and audio installations he investigates the sonic mediation of the natural world, of historic buildings and the durational aspects of place. David’s practice includes Watermark (2012, York Guildhall), Octo: Sotto Voce (2009, York Minster) and Resounding Falkland (2010, Falkland Estate, Scotland), a series of works made in collaboration with Louise K Wilson. Other site-responsive projects are the video series Observances (2005, Café Gallery, London), the audio-visual installations Hark (2005, Gunpowder Park, UK) and Hark 2 (2007, Matrix East, London), made with photographer David Cottridge. David’s more recent work explores historical and cultural issues: Meanings of Failed Action: Insurrection 1946 (2017), a multi-media installation produced in collaboration with Indian artist Vivan Sundaram, Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Valentina Vitali (Mumbai 2017, New Delhi 2018), focuses on a politically charged moment of South Asian history; while the documentary video installation Art as Problematic Waste (2019), co-directed with Finnish artist Aimo Hyvärinen (Finland YEAR, USA YEAR, UK 2022) explores the overproduction and decommissioning of art. David was awarded a PhD for research on sound, place and perception. He teaches film and sound at the University of East London.

Laura Denning

Dr. Laura Denning is a transdisciplinary artist working across film, sound, social participation and installation. Her practice is situated within experimental geography, to open up the registers within which the work might operate. With a focus upon watery environments, and on porous becomings, new work is being developed which experiments with precipitation, evaporation, transpiration, poolings and floods. Laura is currently Artist in Residence at the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (University of York), and Associate Lecturer in Creative Media at the University of Plymouth. She is Founder and previously a Co-Director of Cine Sisters South West, and founder of the Sprite Arts Collective. She frequently collaborates with other artists, whilst generating solo projects that respond to specific places. Currently head over heels in love with a disused tunnel, she is exploring the acoustic possibilities of this unique, wet and dark, wildlife corridor, working towards a live event in 2024.

Sonia Levy

Sonia Levy's inquiry-led practice considers shifting modes of engagement with more-than-human worlds in light of prevailing Earthly precarity. Her work operates at the confluence of knowledge practices interrogating western expansionist and extractivist logics. She was the 2022 recipient of the S+T+ARTS4Water's 'The Future of High Waters' residency hosted by TBA21 in Venice. She was the 2021 commissioned artist at Radar Loughborough and Aarhus University's Ecological Globalization Research Group. Levy participated in the 2020 Artquest's Peer Forum' Rewilding' at the Horniman Museum and Gardens. She has exhibited in the UK and internationally, including shows and screenings at Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris; Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris; ICA, London; BALTIC, Gateshead; Obsidian Coast, Bradford-on- Avon; Goldsmiths College, London; The Showroom, London; Pump House Gallery, London; ZKM Karlsruhe, Art Laboratory Berlin; HDKV, Heidelberg; Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA; Verksmiðjan á Hjalteyri, Iceland; and The Húsavík Whale Museum, Iceland. Her work has been published by MIT Press, Thames&Hudson, Antennae Journal, The Learned Pig, Billebaude, Verdure Engraved, and has appeared in NatureCulture and Parallax journals.