Jon Wozencroft Soundseminar @ Iklectik, London 3rd May 2023

The Angle of Light

Sound Seminar by Jon Wozencroft, 3 May 2023, Iklectik Art Lab
Live performance by Mark Van Hoen, projections by Nico Van Hoen

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Jon Wozencroft developed his sound seminars in the late 1980s as a means of highlighting the potential of sound-related research and practice in art and design education. Primarily, the seminars promote the art of listening and seek to rebalance the dominant bias of visual culture which favours the eye over the ear. Listening both enhances one’s perceptual awareness and creates an oasis away from 24/7 non-stop media. The seminars underline the power of sound and music as catalysts for change in a context in which recorded music has been progressively devalued in the digital environment. Drawing upon forty years of working in music publishing and performance, Wozencroft moves the audience between and beyond genre classifications and makes connections where past present and future come alive in the moment.

Unsurprisingly, optimism is in short supply these days. Leonard Cohen’s proposition is his 1992 song, ‘Anthem’, that “There’s a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in” is full of faith but forlorn – and indeed his last recordings from 2016, ‘You Want it Darker’, seem almost an acceptance of this, and at the very least, a test of how close to the limit we can push it.

Are we stranded in doom and gloom? In London, this Spring, the rare sunshine is tempered by the feeling that it’s one thing after another. There has to be a breaking point, and yet the breakers keep on breaking and life seems a rush for some sign of resolution, which is of course blocked and inaccessible without the essential force of mutual co-operation and enlightened intention. Language is a fragile instrument. Politics is divorced from the common good. French philosopher Paul Virilio wrote two decades ago, “There are no pessimists; there are only realists and liars”.

So soon after the impact they made on contemporary thought in the 80s and 90s, writers like Virilio and Baudrillard seem by and large forgotten. Virilio noted that breaking the sound barrier was a key aspiration of the postwar era that signified the lust for acceleration. He spoke of the digital age as being an attempt to break the light barrier – “The speed of light does not merely transform the world. It becomes the world. Globalization is the speed of light”. The light barrier “is not something one can cross: you crash into it”.

Which brings us to Artificial Intelligence, in many respects a ‘height barrier’ for the human race – is it possible to pass through this particular door without losing one’s head in the process? Intelligence, the Latin root ‘inter-legere’, to read between, starts with the critical challenge between light and darkness. This has of course preoccupied human civilization since day one, thus another simple question – why is the force of light so hard to clarify and sustain? Why is intelligence so undervalued and disregarded?

Not so long ago ‘Light Entertainment’ was the guiding policy of broadcast media. In music, ‘light’ meant pop/commercialism/aural soma. That no longer holds sway. Time to re-examine the ‘Happy Valley’ of dark entertainment – the illumination of darkness as a means of feeling and naming the situation… and finding the means of transformation.

Mark Van Hoen

For nearly 40 years, English producer Mark Van Hoen has been making challenging music that eludes easy categorization under his own name, as Locust, and in the groups Autocreation, Scala, and drøne. While his output has skirted around the fringes of IDM, techno, trip-hop, ambient, drone, and electropop, it has mutated these genres’ elements in distinctive ways, revealing a mind always questing for unprecedented sounds.

 Born in 1966, London, England Mark is an English electronic music composer and producer. He has released seminal and influential recordings under his own name as well as Locust, in additional to a multitude of collaborations with other artists including Robert Fripp, and members of Slowdive, Cocteau Twins and Seefeel. Pitchfork said, “Musically, Van Hoen belongs to a distinguished family tree. Originally influenced by the likes of Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream, and later presaging both Autechre’s glitch and Boards of Canada’s pastoral IDM”. 

Mark has released records on several highly respected independent labels such as R&S, Editions Mego and 4AD as well as major labels Sire, Sony and Warner Brothers. Most enduringly, his relationship with Touch, a UK-based label founded in 1982, stretches back over 30 years. His latest Touch release “Invisible Threads” has been universally praised, and shows a new approach in a spectral, submersive, almost neo-Classical composition style, revealing subtle influences from Touch luminaries such as Philip Jeck, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Claire M Singer.
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