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Factory Floor Talk ICA 'Sonic Lumps' Collab
Luke Turner , November 14th, 2012 12:37

Nik Colk Void and artist Hannah Sawtell discuss this weekend's collaboration at the Institute For Contemporary Arts

One of the many reasons that we at The Quietus are such enthusiasts for Factory Floor is due to their versatility and adaptability. One night they might be playing to pill munching students in Manchester, the next involved in an art installation or live collaboration. The ICA has made the London-based trio their musical artists in residence, and this weekend the group will perform their second event as part of their work at the London gallery. Following October’s live set with Peter Gordon, this Saturday, November 17th, the group team up with Hannah Sawtell, whose exhibition Osculator is currently running in the ICA gallery space. The joy of these events outside the usual gig or club context is the step into the unexpectedness: thus far, the ICA promises that “Hannah Sawtell collaborates with artists in residence Factory Floor on a live event as part of their ongoing investigation of analogue and digital forms, combining Factory Floor's distinctive analogue sound with Sawtell's digital reworking. The ensuing collision takes place within the installation, creating an intense environment releasing 'concentrated lumps of sound.'" We spoke to Sawtell and Factory Floor's Nik Colk Void to try and glean some more hints as to what’s going on. For details and tickets go here. So, How did the collaboration first come about?

Nik Colk Void: Factory Floor had just started our one year residency at the ICA, and Hannah's show Osculator was to due to open in a couple of months time. Matt Williams, curator at the ICA suggested we should work together as he could see parallels in our interests. And yes he was right.

Hannah, when did you first encounter Factory Floor and what did you hope they could bring to the collaboration?

Hannah Sawtell: I first saw 'Two Different Ways', via YouTube.. it jumped out of the screen at me... because of a similar approach with video, this got me excited. In 2006 I made a video called 'You’ll Never Walk Alone' which uses 'I’ve Lost Control' by Sleezy D, and a generic computer transition of a cube turning, 'Two Different Ways' has this kind of direct structure and solidity... also Nik’s voice on that track(I hope you dont mind this Nik) it reminded me very slightly of some Section 25, and there is also the acid reference. All things I grew up with, that have influenced what I do, so I felt close to them immediately.

How has the process of preparing the work happened?

HS: I had just tried a live analogue and digital event in New York, it felt like a start, so i suggested it to Nik as a point for our work to begin.... of course Factory Floor work in many ways, so Nik was up for it... then she came to my studio and I showed her the plans for my show at the ICA. The large truck video and the standing five panel acoustic wall. We will perform behind the screen and use the sculpture to direct the sound as it does in the show, it’s designed to centralise audio in that big concrete theatre; pushing inwards and out between it and the video screen, which is where the audience will be. We then met again at the Factory Floor studio and all discussed how we would make this particular analogue live sampling and digital processing work for us.

Nik, what is inspiring the Factory Floor response to Hannah's artwork?

NKV: What I immediately read from Hannah's work is she is 'objectifying' digital by making it into physical objects. With this in mind I thought the simplest way to illustrate converting analogue to digital to an audience was by arranging us into a human conveyer belt. Imagine I catch Dom’s [FF member Dominic Butler] sound in a box, shake it up and solidify it - hand it to Hannah, she moulds and squeezes it into another shape, chucks it to Gabe [FF’s Gabe Gurnsey] for quality control, then he chucks it out to the audience as a 'sonic lump'.

How will the collaboration work on the night?

HS: Dom is playing live modular synth VCO and sending the parts to Nik, who will record them and her voice live, she will export these digital files and pass them to me as part of the chain. I will work on them in a basic DJ programme, it’s quick and responsive, I can catch the edges of sounds. This will be fed to Gabe, he'll also have a straight feed from Dom, so he can mix between both sound sources.

If much of the material in the installation is sourced from the internet, will the musical side, and the power of the Factory Floor sound, add a more tangible, physical aspect?

HS: It will certainly be different from the sound in the installation.. The original sound forces the digital to represent a spacial physical experience as you walk through the show it feels dense at the centre and expands. But this live work will come directly from our collaboration of analogue and digital forms. I am looking forward to hearing it.

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