Richard Bowers and the Sound of Aircraft Attacking Britain.

The Velvet Lantern Part V: Before the Fall


Before the Fall

The Velvet Lantern series:

I intended to develop an installation/performance piece drawing upon material in the works and lives of Edgar Allan Poe and Frederyck Chopin (whose lives were nearly co-terminous) – particularly in relation to the former's mysterious death. The final installation integrated video (a short segment from the biopic of Frederyck Chopin, A Song to Remember, 1945), audio, and constructions, with a crude physical model of the House of Usher from Poe's story.

Development of this piece took place in the Unit(e) residency at G39 from January to March 2015. The nature of the timetable of this residency allowed for two, three or four days of work on site per week, with the remainder of the week free for contemplation and reflection. This balance took some of the pressure off being constantly productive – it offered the opportunity for intensive work in an environment that was well-resourced and where artists working alongside could enrich the experience of making through discussion and through their own productivity. Furthermore, the space provided was generous enough to allow me to be fairly ambitious in scale.

The piece began as an offshoot – at a technical level – of In Slower Motion. The method of striking the drums was here applied to the strings of a piano – an allusion to the idea of the Aeolian harp, in turn to Chopin's 'Aeolian Harp' Etude.

The House seemed to develop along the lines of an Expressionist film prop – echoing the film set of Das Kabinet des Dr Caligari. There were hints of imagery from Epstein's silent version of La Chute de la maison Usher.

As the work developed, I began to introduce trangressive elements - elements that seem to sit awkwardly with the central concept. Drawings of ruins, derived in spirit from Piranesi, rubbed shoulders with reproductions of drawings of Chopin on his deathbed so the feel was more akin to a museum environment. The nature of the setting – a residency amongst other artists – meant there was less of an emphasis on producing a 'finished' work for presentation, although a presentation did take place in the end.

The 'final' piece, evolving over two months from something museum-like to a more decisive, pared-down installation, was captured on video. This video material, along with an audio recording, will form the basis of a fixed media work functioning both as document and as artwork entitled After 'Before the Fall', or something like that, with the senses of 'after' as order of occurrence and 'after' meaning 'derived from'.

With the support of G39.