In conjunction with Moving Stillness (Mt. Rainier), 1979, and exhibited for the first time ever; Blain|Southern and The Vinyl Factory present recordings of Bill Viola’s early sound compositions. The Talking Drum forms an immersive installation at The Vinyl Factory Space at Brewer Street Car Park in Soho, London. Two works are featured, The Talking Drum, 1979, and Hornpipes, 1979–82, that explore the resonances of an empty swimming pool.
The works are sonic manifestations of Viola’s work with physical presence, and a logical development following his early experiments with audio. From 1973 Viola, as part of Composers Inside Electronics, began to experiment with the physical effects of audio on audiences and surrounding spaces, exploring the manipulation of physical sound waves through the addition of electronic playback and modulation. He produced audio effects such as gating which later became a popular feature of synthesisers and samplers. These pieces were recorded at various sessions in an empty swimming pool at Media Study/Buffalo, NY, in 1979 and 1982 and reflect also his interests in non-western music and religion through the transcendental nature, instrumentation and sonic qualities of each piece. Viola’s ground-breaking work in this field coincided with the rising popularity of electronic music.
Restored by Bill Viola Studio, recordings of these performances are presented together for the first time as a limited vinyl edition of 100, pressed by The Vinyl Factory. The hand numbered edition features two full compositions, The Talking Drum and Hornpipes and an excerpt from a series of experimentation entitled Pulses (Duomo Bells). Reproductions of the original program notes and invitation from a 1979 Composers Inside Electronics performance in Buffalo, NY are also enclosed.
The exhibitions are the latest in one of Bill Viola’s most extensive periods of activity across the UK, which includes the concurrent opening of Bill Viola at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the release by Thames & Hudson of his most comprehensive monograph and the latest leg of the Tate and National Galleries of Scotland touring programme, ARTIST ROOMS, at The Wilson, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. This follows notable presentations at Auckland Castle and The Line, and the permanent installation of The Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), 2014, at St Paul’s Cathedral, London.