Total Relaxation (2015 – 2016)

Total Relaxation is a collaboration between myself and sound artist Tom Richards. The starting point was to make analogue sound devices (mainly turntables) react to (or interact with) the movement of a live performer.The project began in summer 2015 with an initial period of research at Choreodrome supported by The Place. We then carried out a further R&D period with the support of METAL in Peterborough and The Place in London. Whilst continuing to develop my collaboration with Tom Richards, I also worked with Dramaturg Chris Higgins, from The Map -Projects and dance artist Joel O’Donoghue.

Following research at Choreodrome in 2015, we devised an initial 10 minute score: ‘Analogue Movement Score no.1: Total Relaxation’. Taking its name from a 1960’s relaxation record that formed the underlying soundtrack of the work, this score involved two purpose built devices: a theramin sensor and a deconstructed tape measure. The relaxation record instructed the solo performer to “relax” whilst she pulled a string controlling the pitch of the narrator’s voice. Meanwhile her distance from the theramin sensor controlled a second turntable playing a Nat King Cole record. When the performer’s arm lowered, the record warbled into a fade out. By literally tying the sound to the performer’s movement and using instructional records to tell the performer what to do, the work sets up and subverts the balance of control between sound and performer.

In our second phase of research we expanded the work by introducing new materials and a second performer. We used four turntables, two elastic strings, one non-elastic string, a re-appropriated tape measure, pressure sensors, two theramin sensors, a lot of wires and a selection of found records. Again our aim was to create a direct relationship between the performer’s movement and the playback of the sound. The performers move through different stations in a kind of sound gym, playing out bizarre rituals in which they are both controlling and being controlled by the devices, each other or by the sound.

My research was supported using public funding by the Arts Council England.



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