The Library’s first embedded composers in residence collaborate in a live performance
Artists Larry Achiampong and Aleks Kolkowski have been given access to the British Library’s vast Sound Archive as part of a Sound and Music Embedded residency. They have spent the last ten months investigating a variety of sounds and creating new works using and inspired by archive material.
Larry has scrutinised audio and visual samples from the western region of the African continent, using the Library’s recent exhibition West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song as inspiration, while Aleks has focused on early cylinder recordings and the Bishop Collection of sound effects for theatre from the 1940s and ‘50s.
In this collaborative live performance, they draw upon their respective explorations of the sound collections, at the same time demonstrating historic archival media formats, such as wax cylinders, 78rpm acetate and vinyl records on phonographs and gramophones together with contemporary beat making machines and electro-acoustic manipulations.
Larry Achiampong's solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas of cross-cultural and post-digital identity – in particular, dichotomies found within a world dominated by Facebook/tumblr/Wikipedia/YouTube-based cultures. He crate-digs the vaults of history, splicing audible and visual qualities of the personal and interpersonal archive-as-material, offering multiple dispositions that reveal the socio-political contradictions in contemporary society.
Aleksander Kolkowski is a composer, violinist and researcher who uses historical sound recording and reproduction apparatus and obsolete media to make contemporary mechanical-acoustic music. His work invites us to listen to the present through the audio technologies of the past, through recordings, installations and live historical re-enactments. His numerous international projects in this field have combined wax cylinder phonographs, wind-up gramophones and antique disc recording machines together with live musicians and even singing canaries.