Re-composing Mike Parr's Alphabet/Haemorrhage

Presenter: Dr Alexander Hunter.

In 1992 Australian visual and performance artist, Mike Parr, created a work called Alphabet/Haemorrhage, consisting of a page of text divided into 76 discrete sections. For the work to be realised Parr requires collaboration from a composer and a tenor.

Four different composer/tenor teams have performed unique iterations of the work over the past nearly two decades, including at the MCA in Sydney, the City Gallery in Melbourne, IMA in Brisbane and Arthaus Perth. So far there has been no visual or audio documentation of any of these performances.

On 15 October my version of Alphabet/Haemorrhage will be performed at the National Gallery of Australia as part of a big retrospective exhibition on Parr’s work. For the first time the piece will include both spatialisation and live and pre-recorded electronics. This version will involve the tenor, Peter Tregear, silently performing in the gallery space, controlling a disembodied recording of his voice weaving and improvising his way through the 76 text events. There will be a second stratum of sound moving through the performance space consisting of a fixed pre-recorded 8-channel audio part.

Through the constantly shifting, open relationships between both (1) the two discreet audio sources and (2) the actions of the live vocalist in the performance space and his pre-recorded voice, this 40-minute piece will seek to function both as an installation and complete concert work.

This talk will be a discussion of the thoughts and compositional processes involved in my re-composition, as well as some details of the realisation and previews of the visual and audio components of the performance. 

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