Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sea piano fret

It's a prelude and it's begun: I'm making a new piece, a collaboration with my resistant Mum (purist of the piano) and possibly Dad and Adrian. Getting back to my roots in video has taken a while (a number of years) and though I've shot and shot and shot stuff in that intervening period most of it remains on its original source tapes waiting for the time when (and if) it will be harvested, but its certainly not to be just now.

Now, this time, is urging another particular investigation into what fascinates me on many levels. The subject that has always been uppermost in my thinking, that of memory - cultural, societal, local - is requiring a re-visit. Time itself is asserting its presence.

Rea Tajiri wrote about a kind of memory which wants to be explored because it is a whisper of something hidden, unknown yet in some way known, referring to her cultural history and what is omitted. Laurie Anderson wrote in 'Words in Reverse' about the Cree Indians "I am singing the songs of my fathers... I never knew the words of the old songs... I never sang the songs..." I admire too the work of Vera Frenkel who used her imagination to imagine the grandparents she never knew.

My previous video work was about memory, my memory and not my memory. Sometimes it was just a memory, plucked from the space where my mind resides. A construction a la Boltanski or Marker.

Growing up I was surrounded by generations of family (cockneys) who played the piano and sang, it was what was done at that time (if you were lucky). Mum played by ear (no it didn't hurt apparently - yes that joke has been made before) from the age of 5, her hands so small that her fingers couldn't stretch for the melody and she'd use the side of her hand instead. She was much in demand and, to her eternal regret, everyone at that time said she didn't need lessons because she could play any tune requested having heard it only once. I love the stories she recounts of her playing in the dark during the blitz or even when the lights just went out.

The music was inside her head and her hands found the notes. Mum doesn't like the sound of her playing, because she says that when you hear the right cords as they are meant to be played from sheet music it is altogether 'better' but I don't agree, her music is a sound all of its own - of an era and a place, it is joyful and sad, uplifting and poignant. It is full of history and extremely visual. No wonder silent movies always had a pianist.

1 comment:

GeePig said...

Ah, pity we don't always value what we have because we imagine that what we have isn't 'proper' enough. Specialisation in classical fields is often over-rated ;)