Visual Artists Newsletter - November/December Issue 2008

Edited by Jason Oakley


A NEW AUDIENCE
JAY ROCHE PROFILES FARPOINT RECORDINGS, A LABEL CONCERNED WITH THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN CONTEMPORARY SOUND AND AUDIO-VISUAL PRACTICES.


In most artistic disciplines it is necessary to have a workspace – somewhere to work through the processes of creating art and to make physical, ideas that need to be expressed. This space can take the form of a traditional studio or workshop – or it can be a more abstract entity, an ‘idea’ of a place, that allows other ideas to develop and prosper – a conceptual platform for new work. Over the last ten years it has become easier for artists and musicians to devise and utilise such platforms to nurture collaboration and creativity – in particular by utilising the internet – which above all things, has allowed information travel with greater ease than it has ever done; and thus open doors to many creative possibilities. While information technology throws up as many challenges as opportunities, there is no doubt it has changed the way that artists work – not in the least as it opened out new potentialities for how artists might engage and interact with their audiences.

It is within this context that Farpoint Recordings (initially called Aphasia Recordings) was formed in 2004 by Anthony Kelly and David Stalling. Originally set up to act as a fulcrum for their own creative activities – both in the audio and visual arts – Farpoint Recordings has now developed into an artist-run creative project that seeks to “publish works from the margins that intersect in some way with contemporary sound and audio-visual practices”. (1)

Having already spent a number of years collaborating, Kelly and Stalling had built up a body of work that formed the basis for their new label’s catalogue. Their work at this stage was focused on a meeting of sound and image – often comprising aural collages of field recordings combined with samples of digital or analogue film. Although coming from different areas of arts practice, Kelly and Stalling’s output finds a common ground and their label is an outlet for work reflecting their shared interests. Kelly comes from a visual arts background – having worked in a number of media including painting and print. His work over the years has broadened to explore the possibilities of sonic art and the use of video and digital imagery. Stalling has a background in music composition and performance, as well as lighting and videography, and combines these different media in his art practice.

While using the website (www.farpointrecordings.com) as a focus point for the label, they have also been involved in solo and group exhibitions taking place in non-virtual venues including the Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh; Catalyst Arts, Belfast; ArtTrail, Cork – along with the ‘Two Places’ exhibition curated by Seán McCrum, which took place at Ormeau Baths, Belfast and Limerick University. More recently they have also participated in a number of live and improvised events that have opened out their work to include other performers. These have included a number of performance showcases, such as The Sound We are Now CD launch concert at The LAB, Dublin; Danny McCarthy’s book launch at Triskel Arts Centre and the Solus Film Collective DVD launch (with special guest Jonas Mekas) at This is Not a Shop, Dublin, as part of Jameson International Film Festival. In 2009 Farpoint are planning to undertake a series of profile / showcase events throughout the country.

The past four years has seen the label grow to accommodate their developing collaborative projects – the new name Farpoint Recordings marking this growth. The new appellation brings with it a sense of distance travelled, but it also marks out a territory in which they wish to work. As Anthony Kelly has put it “we wanted to cultivate an openness to making art that could also accommodate people working on the fringes of art practice” (2). Stalling stresses an appreciation for a more non-materialist approach to making work, seeing Farpoint as a way to document and record these processes. The name change also coincided with a greater emphasis on drawing in other practitioners – allowing Farpoint to become a pivot for current creative practise in audio-visual arts as well as being a record label. In light of this, it comes as no surprise to learn that both Stalling and Kelly are involved in art collectives outside of their own collaborations, where their interests in the exchange of ideas find further outlets.

Stalling and Kelly’s openness to creative co-operation has broadened the agenda for Farpoint Recordings, and current projects include many that have a curatorial flavour to them. Most notable is their recent CD and website project, The Sound We Are Now – which was something of a benchmark for the label’s approach and aspirations. The project comprised of an invitation for artists to offer sonic statements summing up where they stood creatively at that moment (3). The Sound We Are Now CD received a good number of positive reviews, including The Journal of Music in Ireland and was awarded CD of the month in the Contemporary Music Centre. Julian Cowley wrote in Wire magazine that it was “an absorbing document where the play of curiosity and exhilaration of discovery are key factors and even familiar sounds take on a certain freshness.”(4)

Many of the artists involved with The Sound We Are Now have also had other projects supported by Kelly and Stalling. These works were presented as books, CD’s and DVD’s – but also in the form of signed, short-run, hand made multiples. Most of these multiples are very affordably priced, giving the public an opportunity to purchase an original artwork. The CD’s for such short-run editioned multiples are usually made on demand as CD-R’s, while editions of 500 or more are manufactured with a pressing plant in Ireland.

Farpoint are currently developing projects with artists such as Danny McCarthy – a pioneer of the Irish sound art scene ¬– and have just published a retrospective book and CD of the artist’s work called LISTEN hEAR. A new CD of recorded work by The Quiet Club (sound art improvisers featuring Mick O’Shea and Danny McCarthy), has also just been released. Irish-based Czech sound artist Slavek Kwi has already released a number of works with Farpoint, including Expanzin, part of his output as Artificial Memory Trace.

Early 2009 will see the release of a new collaborative CD between Kwi, Kelly and Stalling. Much of Alan Lambert’s back catalogue has been re-released, including Anam and The Man Who Cycled to the Moon. Another publication, Schirin Nowrousian's book of poetry, Ziryabs Gnu, underlines Farpoint's expansion into a number of editioning forms that stretch beyond the sonic arts. All of the previous items and more are available online from their website, www.farpointrecordings.com, and also from various art gallery shops and independent record shops around the country. They have also begun to distribute some of their projects with Printed Matter in New York (www.printedmatter.org), and they are currently looking into further distribution avenues.

Running any sort of business requires funding and the label is currently self-financed by Kelly and Stalling and / or the particular artists whose project is being developed – along with some sponsorship. For example the printing of Nowrousian’s book was made possible by the help a number of private sponsors who bought advance copies through a subscription scheme. Farpoint hopes in the near future to be in a position to realise future projects through income from work sales. With some of the larger projects that they have planned, it is their intention to seek funding from public institutions such as the Arts Council and Culture Ireland. For now, the Kelly and Stalling work closely together in the day-to-day running of the label (e.g. website, distribution, sourcing new projects). The design and packaging of projects is considered of great importance and Kelly and Stalling have been working closely with graphic designer and photographer Doreen Kennedy for most of their releases. The artists they are working with are also involved at every stage of the design / packaging process.

Farpoint Recordings don’t operate under a strict stylistic agenda – instead Kelly and Stalling are guided by a willingness to embrace the experimental in a spectrum of genres. Thus Farpoint’s output and activities encompass the traditional domains between the art gallery, record label and publishing house. The label’s amalgamation of these roles has produced an exciting hybrid site for audiences to encounter work.

It is a very interesting time for Kelly and Stalling as their label strives to broaden its scope and there is potential to draw in many more contributors to its creative agenda. Overall, Farpoint Recording’s aims are to facilitate and nurture new work, and further projects are planned with Soun.Din (a free music improvisation group, whose members include Diarmuid Mac Diarmada and Karl Burke), Irish-based Brazilian electro-acoustic composer Victor Lazzarini, sound artist Linda O’Keeffe, and the Damo Suzuki Network.

Back in 2004, Kelly and Stalling produced an audio-visual piece for the Soundworks exhibition in Cork, entitled Small Audience, a nod to the small number of individuals that might find themselves exposed to that work – due to it originally being displayed in a small storage room. The work is typical of theirs; thoughtful, quiet and understated but deserving to be seen by far more than its title suggests. Thankfully, due to their hard work and the success of their endeavours, they can expect that audience to grow further and know they have added a valuable resource to the contemporary Irish art world.

Jay Roche

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Notes
(1) Quote from – www.farpointrecordings.com/profile/
(2) From a conversation with the writer
(3) Further details from www.soundwearenow.org
(4) Wire Magazine. Issue 296 – Oct. 2008.