Stephen Cornford

Stephen Cornford

Kinetic Sound-Sculptures

January 11 - February 22, 2014

Opening Reception:
Saturday, January 11, 6-9pm
(The artist is present)

Stephen Cornford (b.1979) is a British sound-artist, sculptor, and performer of experimental electronic music. His work stems from an abiding fascination with consumer audio electronics: how these devices that we are sold to consume music and images increasingly frame our engagement with the audio-visual world at large. Reconfiguring these media from the inside, re-imagining their functionality, defying their obsolescence and searching for their intrinsic poetry are for him strategies with which to challenge normative use, social conformity and the myth of technological progress. Cornford lives and works in Bristol, UK.

ARCHIPELAGO (2013) is a sculpture for more than 50 portable CD players. The work inverts their normal role as the source of audio, turning them instead into receptors of sound: ears. In doing so the work asks how these machines might behave were they able to hear.  Electromagnetic recordings of the machines are played back into their motors, causing them to twitch, tremble and spin unpredictably. These mechanised spasms are then amplified through an array of small speakers encircling them. The abandoned portable stereos of the past, a technology designed to enable solitude and isolation in even the most crowded of spaces, are transformed into a network of nervous electronic eavesdroppers. Visually reminiscent of a model cityscape or biological test laboratory, Archipelago subjects domestic technology to the pressures of urban dwelling.

Additionally to ARCHIPELAGO this exhibition also presents two of Stephen Cornford's previous works:

FIVE INTROVERTED MACHINES (2012), a small piece for five identical first generation cassette players. The tape head of each machine is detached and extended allowing each machine to probe its own electromagnetic emissions, in an uncanny display of self-awareness.

IN SEARCH OF A CONCRETE MUSIC (2010) is a composite digital scan of all the individual components of a Grundig TK5 reel to reel  tape machine. Similar to the exploded diagrams of a service manual, it maps the three dimensional space within the machine from left to right across the page with real parts which all show signs of use and age. Rather than illustrating the machine's functionality, our understanding of its operation is confounded by the isolation of the parts, the internal speaker is the sole clue remaining.