9PIN Artists' Statements

Hywel Davies


Original concept January 2004

This piece is about the similarities in what we do; the small differences that define who we are as individuals and communities; and why where we live is so important to us. It is not an attempt to find out why the 9PIN communities are different – instead it looks at the experiences of individuals that are members of each 9PIN community. Sound recordings will be collected from each of the 9PIN communities. The recording will be of targeted members of the community asked to perform certain tasks or go through certain scenarios. The material collected will be made into stereo sonic works or sonic installations.

“Hywel Davies is a composer and installation artist who creates rich and evocative site specific sound installations. He has written music for the concert hall, dance, and television. His works also include studio collage of found material. These works often use elements of chance and repetition to enhance or reinterpret the nature and resonance of a particular building or location. Installations combine musical composition with other elements such as recorded natural and ambient sounds and speech.

Utilising a significant degree of participation on the part of individuals or communities with links to the locations these subtle but highly engaging works create highly atmospheric environments that explore the relationship between music, sound, memory and the sense of place.”

Philip Smith

‘Nothing in the classical canon quite prepares you for Hywel Davies…Davies has long combined natural sounds with more conventional sound sources. Davies recordings have revealed a capacity for considerable diversity…the album [Natural Language] contained an invigorating collage of material, both deliberately arranged and aleatoric.’

Louis Gray, The Wire

‘Defining Davies’ work is no simple matter. His compositions defy generic boundaries and resist attempts at easy classification. Formal discipline and tonal acuity sit alongside mischievous humour and the probabilistic open-endedness of improvisation. Davies’ palette of instrumentation is necessarily eclectic, spanning string quartets, cement mixers and discreet digital encryption, often drawing the attentive ear to pattern and texture at the very thresholds of perception.’

David Thompson

Updated concept – April 2005

During the course of production of ‘Home’, Hywel Davies (like some of the other artists in 9PIN) discovered that the proposal, when applied to each SCAN venue, was a project in itself. Davies made a decision that either the recording scenarios needed to be altered or the number of venues included in the project should be decreased. The main issue arising is that people are more complex than data gathering allows (a lesson which could be applied to many projects inside and outside of the arts). Enlisting people’s trust to contribute to a database of sound for artists was a time-consuming task which needed more contact time with the participants than a project which encompassed 9 venues.

As a consequence, Davies came up with scenarios for recording which were more repetitive and mechanical. The scenarios comprised the following:
1) Humming – a member of staff at each venue
2) Counting up to 60 – a member of staff at each venue
3) Clocks ticking – local businesses
4) Sounds from railway stations close to each venue
5) Sounds of water near each venue
6) Ambient sounds near each venue

These sounds were more systematic and mechanical than originally envisaged and rekindled Davies’s interest in ‘total serialism’ in music. He collected the sounds during Autumn 2004 and then began work to make compositions around the audio collected. A piece was made for touring with Ivan Pope’s workshops and shown at Quay Arts in February. This ‘database’ or collection of sounds formed the basis of some work on a residency in Banff in early 2005 and the piece Idyll shown at the SCAN showcase marks the beginning of the dissemmination of this work.

Davies and SCAN are working to produce a series of small installations and a largescale 9 channel installation for 2006 using the collection of sounds as source material. Davies’s work will be shown as part of the Day-to-Day Data exhibition at Aspex Gallery in September.

The sounds collected will be available open source to artists who wish to use them in their own work. Available from early June 2005 as a series of 9 CDs (representing the set of sounds at each venue), you will be able to contact SCAN to listen to the audio and CDs will then be made up to order.

Meantime, here are some fragments of sounds collected:

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