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Sound Art

Week 4, Final Week of Studio Kura

Blink and you’ll miss it... That’s how it felt like the past month went at Studio Kura. The final week of my stay at the artist residency was spent exploring Fukuoka prefecture and all (as much as I could get to by train) to offer. Fellow artists and I went walking through the wilderness, exploring the history of Kyushu in museums and castles, searching through second-hand stores, taking quick Shamisen lessons, and even relaxing in an onsen (it’s weird). We’ve met up for dinner, eaten amazing food and discussed plans for the future. It’s an amazing experience to be able to travel to a foreign country to live and work but having like-minded, talented and kind people working around you at the same time makes it unforgettable.

All the work displayed over the two weekends of the festival was world class quality and deserves all the praise and recognition it received. And that goes double for all the staff who worked to organise and facilitate all that went into the festival. Having a space to work on a single project and then display it in a festival setting is something that can be hard to find and everyone at Studio Kura work so hard to provide a great work and living space for their artists.

I didn’t change anything in my work between the two weekends of showing but I did start planning the album form the work will take. Right now, it seems like a 12-track album of both individual field recordings and the combination of recordings and music will be what I put together for a low-key online release (unless someone wants to split the cost of producing a physical version). Hopefully we can set up a performance of the work back home so the work can continue to live on in a spatialised capacity. That will be a complete outcome of a great month of working and recording the sounds of Fukuoka and Itoshima.

At the moment I’m on a Shinkansen train going between Fukuoka and Okayama looking back at pictures I’ve taken over the month and already reminiscing about all the fun we have had. I’ll be making my way around some of the big cities of Japan for the next two weeks. Maybe there will be blog posts but who knows? Tomorrow my plan is to head out to the island of art museums on Naoshima and see all that I can see and then Osaka and on and on.

And I guess all that is left is to dump a few photos up here on the blog…

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First week in Japan! 1st week of Studio Kura Residency!

Well, I guess it’s as good a time as any to post on the blog… Today is Friday, 5/10/18 and the last weekday of the first week of my one month residency with Studio Kura in Itoshima, Japan. It has been a jam-packed start to the month! We began by checking in and meeting all the other residents for the month (check them all out on the guests page on the Kura website). Getting settled into the space and meeting the artists has been incredibly easy and comfortable.

I was then off into the wilderness with my handy H2N Zoom mic. Setting out to capture the sounds of the Itoshima area and all that brings with it.

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From the hidden mountain shrines to the open rice fields, there is no shortage of interesting sounds to capture. All together, I’d say I’ve taken over an hour of recordings in the immediate area.

As my project is to take recordings of both Itoshima and Fukuoka city and compose music to the compiled recordings I have also taken a trip into the city with just that intention. Setting the mic up on street corners, outside parks and across from construction sites I’ve come to learn the soundscape of areas of Fukuoka.

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It hasn’t all been walking around outside with a Zoom mic and listening back in the studio (actually not much studio time so far). We’ve also had some indescribable experiences. On Tuesday two other residents and myself went for lunch in a small community centre with some locals and then our guide took us into the mountains to a Buddhist temple. We took part in a prayer service which was a surreal experience to say the least. I’m looking forward to more adventures with the entire group!

Now that I’ve put the field recordings together for their respective sections, (bar one night recording I’d like to make) I am beginning to work on structuring the piece and formulating ideas for displaying the work. Those aspects will most likely be worked out during next week.

I am taking inspiration from the natural world as well as the man made, and I’ve been reading up on some very basic Japanese compositional techniques that may find their way into the work. Mostly taking scales, modes and maybe some melodic material… But it is still very much a work in progress and there will be even more updates to come!

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