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Bringing together Somerset House Studios’ resident artists, international talent and forward-thinking audiences, sound and performance festival ASSEMBLY’s multidisciplinary programme presents newly commissioned works alongside several first performances and UK premieres. For the second ASSEMBLY season, taking place from 8–10 November 2019, resident artist Christian Marclay curates a series of intimate musical performances in Somerset House’s Lancaster Rooms, responding to the sounds and acoustics of the street outside the Neoclassical building.

Pedestrians, traffic, roadworks, protest, the corner of Somerset House where Waterloo Bridge meets Embankment is a hive of often unpredictable activity and noise. Acknowledging and working with this to define a compositional framework, Marclay invites a series of guests to collaborate in bringing the outdoors inside for an evolving series of electro-acoustic performances. Presented over three nights, six new performances corresponding to Marclay’s sonic vision will be created live in the space, each responding to the concept in a different way.

Tomorrow, Friday 8 November, resident artist and musician Beatrice Dillon presents infraordinary, a new work examining and reframing the rhythmic patterns of the street outside. The work combines installation and performance, where specially composed sounds are triggered using a Kinect camera, with a live controlled sound mix of the street. Presented alongside infraordinary, is a new audio-visual work by Haroon Mirza. Mirza creates installations that test the interplay and friction between sound and electromagnetic waves. Using projected visuals and panning sound from numerous external microphones, he will re-spatialise the traffic soundscape using vehicle noises that enter and leave the room by travelling sequentially from speaker to speaker.

Saturday 9 November sees Lawrence Lek team up with Seth Scott and Robin Simpson to replicate the atmosphere of the Extinction Rebellion protests that took place on Waterloo Bridge, which the Lancaster Rooms overlook. Mira Benjamin, John Lely and Heather Roche join collaboratively on Room Song, a performance that is founded on the interplay of instrumental intonation and environmental acoustics to create an interior ‘resonancing’ of the outside world. On Sunday, experimental techno producer Karen Gwyer will approach the street noises as drums building over the course of the performance, while John Butcher and Lasse Marhaug join forces to modulate the street sounds through saxophone and electronics, creating a complex multi-ingredient feedback system to be manipulated in real time.

Christian Marclay’s ambitious and accomplished practice explores the juxtaposition between sound, photography, video and sculpture. His installations display provocative musical and visual landscapes and have been included in exhibitions around the world including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou Paris and Kunsthaus Zurich. More recently, he exhibited The Clock at the Tate Modern; debuted at White Cube in 2010, the artwork was created from thousands of edited fragments, from a vast range of films to create a 24-hour, single-channel video.

Assembly: Christian Marclay at Somerset House Studios | 8 – 10 November 2019

Feature image: Lawrence Lek, Doom, 2019 (via Somerset House Studios)

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