Described as the ‘Diamanda Galas of Glitch’, Iris Garrelfs’ training into creating through voice began very early on. Her parents sang in the village choir, and would often practice at home with Iris making up new melodies, 2nd and 3rd voices to whatever was being sung.
She got into the attractions of technology as a teenager, stumbling across her dad’s pulp si-fi magazines. Iris is still waiting for an implant that will siphon off her sonic nerve impulses, fragments of melody, rhythm and correlation floating around in her body and brain.
A vital part of her work, be it using voice or other sound material, is improvisation and the use of random elements, the ephemeral fragility and risk implied in giving up control to the moment, a sonic singularity.
Of equal interest is spatial experience, a sense of sound objects let loose, sound unbound.
Iris performs solo as well as in collaboration with other artists, for example Thomas Koner, Robert Lippok (To Rococo Rot), Kaffe Matthews, Scanner, Si-cut.db and others. She also play with the improvising group Symbiosis Orchestra.
An excerpt of my piece Room With A View has been published as part of Ex-trauma, part of theExperiments and Intensities series published by Winchester University Press, which is curated by Annette Arlander, Yvon Bonenfant and Mary Agnes Covey-Krell. Find out more here.
A live performance series exploring vocal improvisation and drawing
Traces in/of/with sound is part of my AHRC funded PhD research into the creative process in sound art and a series of research periods investigating the relationship between drawings and sound. The initial idea for Traces in/of/with sound lives somewhat in the land of visual music and my interest in the influence that the relationship between sound and image has on the music that is produced.
In the liner notes to Folio and 4 Systems Earle Brown (2006) talks about the connection of still images made active and temporal through movement of the eye along them and earlier in the 20th century Paul Klee transferred this principle into much of his paintings. In this vein I have been looking towards motion as one connecting device, a principle also outlined by Niall Moody (2009).Traces in/of/with sound follows on from the previous explorations into the principle through my mobile phone project over ride, for example .
The National Film Board of Canada documentary The animator as musician: documentary, part of Norman McLaren, The Master’s Edition(Barbeau, 2005), talks about the work of one of the early exponents of visual music, in which I found the above stills. They reminded me of some of my drawings, and I found the connection with music established by Norman McLaren intriguing (Like Browne, McLaren used graphic materials to explain musical forms). Furthermore, in his book Lines: A Brief History, Tim Ingold (2007) draws attention to archetypal origins of such engagements with lines. This very much chimed with my interest in creating in a synthesis between raw humanity if you will and technology, usually expressed in my live voice / processing work. These two inspirations provided the initial impetus for the work: line drawings and improvised voice.
Initially I have been working with a film of fixed drawings and voice, and to date there have been three periods of engagement, each moving on and developing the project, and resulting in a live performance of Traces in/of/with sound. Each of these live performance in turn engendered a film, and documentation is available below. In addition to notions of movement, other research ideas concern conceptual matters, such as frames in sight and sound, and with it related experiential aspects such as multi-screen-speaker connections, but also notions of size across the senses.
So far the project has seen four instalments (see below), and version five will be presented at at theAural Detritus Festival at the Phoenix Brighton. More details to come shortly.
 As a point of interest: Further down the line I would like the processing/structuring process of the music to be influenced by an audience’s eye movements along the projected images. This will require further conceptual and technical investigations. I imagine that exploring this connection with a live audience may require several trial stages as the eye movements will have to be picked up in dark surroundings. Contact with a company providing this service has been established, but to date not the required finances. If you are interested in facilitating this project, please get in touch!
 An article by Brandon LaBelle discussing this relationship in my work is athttp://irisgarrelfs.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Brandon-On-Iris.pdf
Version 1: Muse
venue: bar in West London date: spring 2010 film: version 1 sound system: basic, stereo recorded: stereo feed from desk projections: behind me, 1 screen
Description of the situation:
This performance took place as part of a music night at Muse in West London. There were approximately 20 people in the audience. I had prepared coloured papers on which people could set out feedback. This however did not give useful results as answers referred to music only. Questions were not set up clearly enough.
When preparing images for the film I realised that they had to be inverted, showing a black background, as a white one would be far too bright. The film therefore was in black and white, supplied on DVD.
The screen was behind me, this meant I did not respond to the film in my music making and the audience created relationships out of random occurrences.
Version 2: Performance Space
venue: Performance Space in Hackney, London as part of Dismantled Cabaret film: version 2 sound system: mono, bass amp (don’t ask…) recorded: projections: to the left of me at 45 degree angle, on white washed wall
Description of the situation:
This performance took place nearly two years after the initial one. I had made the film longer by adding more images. I had also realised that white images on a black background is rather hard on the eye – an understanding arising from finding out that I am dyslexic. I therefore changed white outlines to a sepia tone, which also added some depth to the images.
On arriving at the venue I find that the PA system was broken and could not be replaced in time. I agreed to perform with a guitar amp only, however what I played through at the end was an Orange bass amp. In mono. At the beginning of the performance the settings had been changed, resulting in a strong feedback which I had to resolve before continuing whilst the film continued. This had two implications: Firstly the music starts later than the film and the record below is short and also sets in somewhat abruptly. I also found it difficult to switch form ‘techmode’ into performance mode.
However, the projections looked great on the whitewashed walls, creating a sense of cave painting.
Questions from the audience afterwards related to my interaction with the images, how I had responded to them.
Version 3: City University
venue: performance space at City University as part of City Lights: Transonic Transformations: Chips, Blossom and Hopscotch film: version 2 sound system: 8- channel projections: 2 screens in front of me
The spatialisation worked very well in this space (sketch to come). I realised that this way of thinking about live distribution of sound as a kind of ’fragmented counterpoint’ began developing with my installation Parallel Textures. Individual sounds hurtling through space, plus a central sweep for those more connected lines. For the images I ended up using 2 projectors and screens, primarily for technical reasons as the central projector was very noisy. I felt this was an interesting arrangement and could be developed, for example, by using even more projectors and screens, with images fading in and out in a similar way to the sound. Perhaps at some point, as I become used to the images, I also need to find ways to surprise myself in order to create a fresh response and evaluate the difference. However, for the moment I am still finding it peculiar to respond to images at the same time as creating a piece of music, which derives from feeling responsible for the audience’s pleasure, therefore focusing more on the sound rather than allowing a free flow of associations to occur.
great drawings ( some people were unsure who made them)
some were concentrating on the sound more than the images
some experienced a narrative
some felt an introspective, ‘meditative’ quality
some structured sections: faces, animals, abstractions
some noted a tension between static images, framed by the screen, and the much freer movement of sound
one person suggested I sit on stage as he was not aware I was performing live
some experienced enjoyable surprise where the sounds were coming from
Whilst this is a stereo recording it needs to be remembered that sounds were distributed in space. In compositional terms, musical movement that is expected to emerge from a melodic line for example, my come from actual movement through space.
Urbania is a collective of six artists, Jessica Antwi-Boasiako, Iris Garrelfs, Oko Goto, Harold Offeh, Maki Suzuki and Patrick Lacey with different skills and diverse backgrounds in performance, sound, video, design and interactive events. The Urbania Collective acts as a forum for research, discussion, production and interaction by facilitating individual areas of inquiry in a collective framework. Together, Urbania share interests in communal living, utopian communities, sci-fi, and the changing aspects of creative authorship and collaboration.
- Iris Garrelfs talks about her contribution to the Urbania Collective project:
- a slideshow from the residency at Parkamoor: Images from our our Parkamoor residency in August 2008 courtesy of Grizedale art. We had no runnig water or electricity, but a great time all over.
-experimenting with found objects at Parkamoor:
-a film I made at Parkamoor:
- preview for the event at Royal Academy:
- Red Room at the Royal Academy: Here you see images of us setting up the Red Room at the Royal Academy, our two Guerilla Soup Nights, our official Urbania Soup Night and more.
Sound Portal Designer Stephen Philips said in an interview that the main inspiration for the design of the structure was Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Coincidentally London College of Communication holds the Stanley Kubrick archive and when combined with a love of sci-fi in general this seemed the perfect embarkation point for the sound artists’ sonic explorations.
Remembering Worlds builds on these influences and creates a journey in sound and space. The piece weaves together memories from the KubrickInner Circle oral history project at the archive with more personal ones to the piece’s creators, intersected with sounds that primarily live in cultural imagination: those of alien landings, titan battles and human exploration.
The result is a playful narrative that comments on perceptions of imagining future and past, whilst folding these into the act of listening.
over ride: An experiment to interrupt the sensual interaction in audio visual relationships
over ride is a series of experimental works for mobile phone designed to investigate creative ways in which the experience of audio visual relationships may be interrupted in order to facilitate a more considered encounter with the senses. The project was developed as part of a practice based PhD, which investigates how multi-faceted artistic practices prevalent at the beginning of the 21st century affect sound artists and their work. It presents part of a research strand that explores how sensual experiences encountered in creative activity in turn impact on the individuals engaged in such activity.
over ride consists of two film-based works to be experienced on a double decker bus with the help of a mobile phone, headphones and earplugs. Both pieces aim to create a visceral sense of discrepancy between seeing and hearing with the help of the movement felt whilst riding on a bus. In both cases the visual aspect of the film shows a journey made on a similar bus whilst the sonic aspects and their relationship to the visual and kinetic information differ.
The pieces draw on Michel Chion‘s notion ofSynchresis as ‘the spontaneous and irresistible weld produced between a particular auditory phenomenon and visual phenomenon when they occur at the same time’ [Chion, M. (1994). Audio-Vision : Sound on Screen. Translated from the French by Claudia Gorbman. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 63] and Niall Moody’s thesis that the motion inherent in sight and sound acts as a connecting device between the senses[Moody, N. (2009). Ashitaka: An Audiovisual Instrument. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, p. 66, download here]
over ride game rules:
- download files to your mobile phone.
- make your way to a bus stop of you choice, preferably in London.
- don’t forget to take headphones (noise cancelling if you have) and some earplugs. The more you can cut out the ambient sound the better.
- board a double decker bus.
- grab yourself a seat at the front on the upper deck.
- plug yourself in.
- if you can, focus more on the sound than the image.
In a day’s work are two sound walks with a twist. There is no sound to start off with. Furthermore, there isn’t really a walk either but two mobile phone-come-reality experiences working hand in hand. In a day’s work takes the idea of a soundwalk, and mutates this into an audiovisual walk that explores two seemingly opposite environments by considering how they might relate and influence each other. This approach seemed to offer exciting opportunities to explore how differences might lead to the integration of opposites into one experience.
How it works:
HOW TO ACCESS:
- the easiest way to access the pieces with your mobile phone is via YouTube:
The RBS foyer, diagonally from Liverpool Street station at 250 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4AA
In nice weather find a bench around Broadgate (Liverpool Street station) or outside theLoyds Building at 1 Lime St, City of London, London, Greater London EC3M 7DQ (one of my favoured examples of 80s brutalist architecture…)
In and around Canary Wharf at Poplar, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E14, is also a suitable location, particularly at lunch time.
- for In a day’s work 2 also take a conveyance of your choice to one of the following places:
Brixton market in Electric Avenue, London, Brixton SW9 8JX, will work well, both in good and bad weather.
Deptford market in 200 Deptford High Street, London SE8 3PR, is a good location, especially on Wednesday or Saturday early mornings, where you can find everything from Chinese plastic socks to rusty old tools.
A greasy spoon of your choice is also a good place, you could do worse than trying the PhoenixCafe in 441 Coldharbour Lane London SW9 8LN.
- once in place, watch the piece, whilst listening to your surroundings. Yes, life happens in strange places!
In a day’s work consists of two complementary situated experiences, an exploration of perceived opposites: seeing and hearing, virtual or recorded experience and actual experience, notions of the global financial world and grassroots business. It was inspired partially by London’s history and the city’s continuing gentrification, but also continuing shenanigans in the banking industry and the distinct feeling that somehow, somewhere different measuring rods are being used.
What’s behind the ideas
The project began with the notion of tracing a section London life as it becomes the past, changed through gentrification into a more unified existence. It aimed to set up the old through photography, presented on a digital device, against the new through sound, as experienced in real time at a specific location. Looked at in this way, In a day’s work conveyed separate strands of information or meaning, through different sense organs, or channels, linking the visual sense with the audio perceptions by linking concepts. This set the scene for a closer engagement with sensorial experience.
Another theme that emerged from this juxtapositioning was that of expectations, in this case by seeing of one thing and hearing another. Furthermore, images needed to function on a small screen, and hence I adopted a rather graphic approach. Ideas on location had gto be provided.
In a day’s work has since mutated further, and surprisingly for me, has shifted into a somewhat political domain. Most likely influenced by the ever debated financial crisis the photographic content now depicts images of businesses at the very bottom end of the scale. A companion piece also emerged, sited at the other end of the business scale, the global banking industry.
Images have been combined into two slideshows/films to be viewed in a specific location that, In a day’s work 1, suggests business at the top end of the scale, for example within the Broadgate Estate in East London and its opposite for In a day’s work 2, for example Deptford market or a “greasy spoon”.
This, then, also set up a conversation between the virtual through the process of downloading and viewing on a mobile phone, with the real, or a specific piece of real estate, and thus creating an overall real or authentic experience within the person, blurring the strict dividing lines between such designations. This juxtaposition of the virtual, the recorded and the real could also be seen as a cross-juxtaposition of old and new, past and present, rich and poor, where new technology meets old London and old fashioned real life meats modern society. In a day’s work also takes the idea of a soundwalk, and mutates this into an audiovisual walk that explores two seemingly opposite environments by considering how they might relate and influence each other. This approach seemed to offer exciting opportunities to explore how differences might lead to the integration of opposites into one experience.
Participants in the project will be supplied with instructions as set out above. They are similar to those that may be found in games such as treasure hunts.
Dumplinks began life as a 4-channel interactive audio-visual installation based on recycling issues commissioned byWatermans, Brentford June in 2003. It has by now transmuted into ‘Dumplinks, a rubbish film for duck and other water based artifacts’.
A shortened film version was shown at Arborescence Festival, Marseille, September 2004, as part of Circle of Sound, London in May 2005 and as a 4-channel version at Sonic Recycler 2 at Watermans in April 2006.
It was also re-installed as a 4-channel audio-visual project at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, Celje, Slovenia in May 2007
The book “Glitch: Perfect Imperfections” by Iman Moradi and Ant Scott, published in New York by Mark Batty in November 2008 includes a tiny slice of the piece.
- watch the film here:
- original press release:
Dumplinks, an interactive sound based environment Commissioned by Watermans
Every year the rubbish mountain grows. Every day, perfectly useable items are being thrown away, unnecessarily replaced by more fashionable successors. Finding beauty where nobody cares to look and listen, Iris Garrelfs has created an interactive 4-channel sound based environment around recycling issues, involving a found, downtrodden, but very colourful piece of plastic, and wires.
Tread around and explore the sonic equivalent of a recycling plant and its constituents. Surrounded by Iris Garrelfs’ multi-channel experience, rubbish takes on a new lease of life, magically transmuted. Created from sounds and sights recorded and filmed in Brentford’s waste and recycling business community.
The opening of DUMPLINKS was part of Sprawl’s SONIC RECYCLER on 7th June 2003 featuring live music from Scanner, Simon Fisher Turner, Tennis and Ticklish, DJs from XFM, Radio 3 and Resonance FM plus short films and more.