project website: http://alpha60.info
project page in the Bienal catalogue
In 2003, commissioner Valerie Connor invited me to be one of Ireland's representatives at the following year's São Paulo Bienal. In response, I developed this deliberately diffuse project comprising three inter-related strands: the website to which the title refers, a CD and a series of space-specific sound-performances. My use of Alpha 60 was a tip of the hat to the city controlling computer in Jean Luc Godard's lo-fi sci-fi classic Alphaville
The website had the same number of pages as the CD had tracks and was designed to serve a random selection of pages, in much the same way that a CD player on shuffle chooses a random sequence of tracks.
The CD was produced in collaboration with São Paulo based Bizarre records, an independent record label which no longer exists. Some of its 27 tracks were produced in collaboration with others and some were solo efforts.
There were five sound-performances - one in Dublin, in the canteen on the top floor of Busaras, and four in São Paulo; at the parabolic modernist Baby Barioni swimming pool; in a domestic space; downtown at Galeria Vermelho; and under Niemeyer's Marquise, a huge concrete roof structure adjacent to the vast pavilion in Ibirapuera Park where the Bienal is hosted. We produced this poster/flyer
to advertise the performances in São Paulo.
In each case, I improvised a sound piece by manipulating fragments of an acapella version of the Beach Boys' song That's not me
. Taken from their universally acclaimed Pet Sounds
album, it's a song is about migration, about a boy who goes to the city only to realise that it's not what he expected:
"I once had a dream, so I packed up and split for the city.
I soon found out that my lonely life wasn't so pretty."
Each of the performances was recorded with a microphone, capturing a mix of my computer generated sound and its interaction with the acoustic signature of the space, its reverberation. I set up a feedback loop, not sonically, but in terms of process, a nod to Alvin Lucier's seminal composition I am sitting in a room
. Each of these recordings became available as raw material for the performances which followed, producing a kind of audio/spatial accumulation, so that occasionally, a fragment of a recording made in the space of a previous performance, would materialise through the speakers for a moment before being absorbed back down the cables into the computer.
I used the recording of the performance at Baby Barioni swimming pool as a contribution to Sven Anderson's public art project Continuous Drift