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John Duncan

Conservatory (San Sebastiano)

Label: ALLQUESTIONS

Format: BOOK + CD

Genre: Sound Art

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Referring to the soundtrack for Conservatory (San Sebastian), John Duncan speaks of 'ghost voices', emphasizing a line of research he's followed in the last several years beginning with Phantom Broadcast (2002), the audio work and live concert performances that utilize a shortwave radio transmission intercepted in the course of a single recording: a shadow play that assumes the form of bells resonating into infinity, where they merge and reverberate, morphing into choruses suspended in space. Duncan's recent work seems to outline the echoes of complex choral compositions and preclude the senses, where we can discern only a reflection that grows thin or thick, as if it were breathing. Tension is accumulated gradually without burning in dramatic or resolved passages; or better still, we could speak of infinite extensions of a single moment of climax, because at the climax these works contain the strength to unwind in a series of minimal tonal variations. Phantom broadcast: in his work Duncan renders perceptible sounds that are difficult to capture, belonging to a dimension impossible to measure in human terms, urging us to pay more attention to what we pass by and ignore. From the beginning of his more than twenty years of activity, his constant attempt has been to approach sounds that go beyond the normal, and the challenge given to everyone (above all to himself) has been to take possession of one's own fears and limits. Voice is the sonic element investigated by Duncan with particular attention in the first years of the new century, as if it were a form of resident energy still calmed, capable of emitting forces that are vital to his art. This new investigation, outlined in a series of albums, is resolved in the installation The Keening Towers, realized for the 2003 Göteborg Biennial where childrens' voices multiply in the air in an energetic rush. In the work realized for Conservatory (San Sebastian) Duncan utilizes darker vocal sounds giving form to an elusive audio-presence, a further ghost transmission at the limits of human measure: once more the sound is a gossamer diaphragm and necessary passage, so that what transcends our normal sense of hearing might be perceived here in all its evocative power.' (Daniela Cascella, catalogue).

Details
Cat. number: AQ 09
Year: 2013
Notes:

Published in occasion of the exhibition, December 2004. Book and CD.

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