London 26 and 28 March 2020: imitation: inversion : Caroline Kraabel [PAST]


11 March 2022 Friday 3-7pm. Artist will be at the gallery 4:30-6:30pm on 11 March.

12 & 13 March 2022 Saturday & Sunday 2-6pm

Free Entry

A sound-film by Caroline Kraabel

‘This 40-minute Ivor Award-winning film (Sound Art category), my first, started with shots of London during the first UK Covid 19 Lockdown (the strict phase of which began on 23 March 2020), taken on my phone during “permitted exercise” (cycling), so my children would have a record of the unfamiliar stillness of their city at a time we now have ingrained in our memories for its sudden difference, and for the surfacing of fear, grief, and love it brought about.

I kept coming back to these shots of quiet streets: who was missing, who was still there, what was revealed when the tide of sound and activity went out?

I undertook to make sense of these images by playing their sounds, and their absence of sounds:

The shots from 26 March are “imitated”. On the alto saxophone I have recreated as many as possible of the original sounds from the audio on my phone-shots, and thus replaced the original audio.

For the shots from 28 March I replaced the original audio, too, “inverting” it.

I aimed to make music that was in a definable way the OPPOSITE of the actual sounds recorded on my phone.

First I divided the original audio into six “strips”, covering six separate frequency ranges, from low to high. Then I recorded six “strips” of sax and bass chords, again from low to high, and matched the highest sax/bass strip with the lowest original strip, the second highest with the second lowest, the third highest with the third lowest.

I used the dynamics of the original “strips” to control the sound on the corresponding sax and bass strips, ducking out the chords where there was a sound on the original, and leaving the chords present when there was no sound on the original. Then I muted the original audio tracks for all but a few dramatic seconds of the “inversion” section.

This means that the chordal music in this section is loud where the original sound was quiet (which is most of the time), and high where the original sound was low: a sort of hollow mould, or impression, of the original.’ – Caroline Kraabel

Thanks to UNCOOL, Poschiavo; Arts Council England.

Caroline Kraabel is a London-based improviser, saxophonist, artist and composer. She conducts and plays with the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO). Sometimes she improvises solo while walking in London and elsewhere (broadcast over several years on Resonance 104.4 FM as Taking a Life for a Walk and Going Outside). She works with many other excellent improvisers, including Robert Wyatt, Maggie Nicols, John Edwards, Louis Moholo, Cleveland Watkiss, Hyelim Kim, Susan Alcorn, Sarah Washington, and Charlotte Hug. During 2020-21 Kraabel has performed live (off- and on-line) and while walking through London; made and shared many recordings of duo and solo live improvisation; made a piece of performance art for APT Gallery; made a number of socially distanced large-group pieces for the LIO; was artist-in-residence at UNCOOL in Poschiavo, Switzerland; and worked on her 40-minute music/film piece about lockdown London (London 26 and 28 March 2020: imitation: inversion), which received its avant-première at London’s Café Oto on 25 February 2021, is available on the Jazzed app, and won the 2021 Ivor Award for Sound Art Composer.

Image by Caroline Kraabel