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VALENTINA (2020)

3 minutes 55 seconds 16mm transfer to digital, black and white, stereo

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Valentina is a prelude to Wendy, a speculative portrait and filmic fan-letter, informed by the work of composer and musician Wendy Carlos - self-described as “The Original Synth”. In Valentina, an unedited 100ft reel of hand-processed 16mm film, shot in rehearsal, is used as a silent score for a reading. Performer Valentina Formenti, recalls part of an interview transcript with Carlos, later edited for publication in ‘Playboy’, 1979. Whilst the interview was seen as the first public announcement of her gender transition, this transcribed section looks to the passages excluded from the final edit. These absent texts include her interests and practice in solar-eclipse photography, cartography and astronomy. Working with Sound Designer Chu-Li Shewring, Valentina's multiple voices are translated through Vocoder, and composited with the warm-up to a performance by Tom Richards, on Daphne Oram’s unrealised ‘Mini-Oramics’ synthesiser, to suggest a coming into being through sonic synthesis.

‘…imagining a world without gender, which is perhaps a world without genesis, but maybe also a world without end.” (Donna Haraway, ’A Manifesto for Cyborgs’, Socialist Review, no.80, 1985)

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Commissioned by TACO! with support from Arts Council England

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INCANTATION, WENDY [2018]

100 minutes, stereo

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“Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh. The trombones crunched redgold under my bed, and behind my gulliver the trumpets three-wise silverflamed, and there by the door the timps rolling through my guts and out again crunched like candy thunder.” [1]

Incantation, Wendy is a recorded broadcast for radio by Frances Scott and Chu-Li Shewring. The piece looks to the work of pioneering composer and musician Wendy Carlos. Carlos famously arranged the distinctive soundtracks for Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ [1971] and ‘The Shining’ [1981], and spearheaded developments on the Moog Synthesiser and use of the Vocoder. Incantation, Wendy includes excerpts and full recordings from Carlos' extraordinary practice, including unused material intended for ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘The Shining’. and recordings by the artists, as music from the recording session bleeds into sounds beyond the studio, and scripted readings using a Vocoder invoke the spirit of 'Danny' - “A shine knows a shine.” [2]

The broadcast includes the following excerpts and tracks from Wendy Carlos’ oeuvre: ‘Switched on Bach’ [1968]; ‘The Well Tempered Synthesiser’ [1969]; ‘Sonic Seasonings’ [1972]; ‘Wendy Carlos' A Clockwork Orange’ [1972]; ‘Digital Moonscapes’ [1984]; ‘Beauty in the Beast’ [1986]; ‘Wendy Carlos: Secrets of Synthesis’ [1987]; ‘By Request’ [2003]; and ‘Quintessential Archeomusicology - Film Music by Wendy Carlos: Rediscovering Lost Scores Vol.1’ [1972 - 2005]

Incantation, Wendy was first commissioned by TACO! [Thamesmead Arts and Culture Office] for community radio station RTM.FM and performed as a live session as part of TEN SLOTTE programme, curated by Vincent Stroep/Escautville for Het Bos, Antwerp. It was recorded at Totland Bay on the Isle of Wight, October 2018 and forms part of a research residency at TACO! which will culminate in a new, long-form film.

Listen via RTM.FM archive > and read Sophie Risner's response here >

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Special thanks to Wendy Carlos and Larry Gutch. Images: 1. Incantation, Wendy [2018], production still; 2. Photograph by Vernon Smith, taken of Wendy Carlos in her studio, 1984 [during the release of 'Digital Moonscapes']; and 3. Wendy Carlos, both portraits copyright Wendy Carlos. Footnotes: [1] Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962); [2] Stephen King, The Shining (1977).

 
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