Premonition 2037

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Premonition 2037 (2016) re-animated archival recordings, through the creation of a new installation and audio work, including a printed distribution element and was a commissioned project for the 50-year anniversary exhibition of Modern Art Oxford – KALEIDOSCOPE. Eileen Simpson and Ben White were one of four artists who were commissioned to make new works, exhibited alongside iconic works from the past exhibition programme, which returned to the gallery from across the globe.

In the spirit of the 1960s project of the Modern Art Oxford (formerly The Museum of Modern Art, Oxford), to make contemporary art freely accessible to the widest audience, we produced an archive of recorded sounds – auditory traces of activity in the gallery, available for use by a future public, without restriction and beyond the scope of the current copyright term. Digitized from videotapes and audio cassettes held in the Modern Art Oxford archive - tape hiss, voices, musical notes, audience applause and shouts, recorded at previous public events, were collected together and processed using information retrieval technologies to form a new archive of sounds and the source material for a new audio work, pressed to vinyl, for exhibition. A series of live events took place on a specially assembled platform that occupied a temporary future date – on which invited collaborators (Bambooman, Young Women's Music Project and Lutto Lento) reanimated archive sounds for live performance. Events were recorded and will be released with copyleft licenses on 1st Jan 2037.

Source Material

Hundreds of video and audio tapes containing thousands of hours of recordings were digitised and analysed. Each tape documenting artists’ events and talks were mined for sounds of their audiences – auditory traces of public activity in the gallery. Tape hiss, voices, musical fragments, audience shuffle and applause recorded at past public events. Incidental moments were recorded before and after events, between speakers, in the pauses before questions or during the runout of a tape left recording. These incidental moments occupy a grey zone in relationship to authorship and ownership. Our selection omitted the voices of artists such as Tony Cragg, Victor Burgin, Helen Chadwick, Marina Abramović and instead foregrounded their audiences. In addition, fragments of 45 rpm vinyl singles of chart hits recorded in 1966, popular sounds from the year the museum opened, were ripped and processed using information retrieval technologies to separate out thousands of sounds to create a bank of source materials – from saturated drum hits to the metallic vibration of a guitar string.


KALEIDOSCOPE: A Moment of Grace
Modern Art Oxford
30 Pembroke Street

Exhibition runs:
Tuesday 29 March - Sunday 22nd May 2016

Friday 15 April 2016

Free events:

Thursday 5th May, 7pm

Saturday 14th May, 3pm
Young Women's Music Project

Thursday 19th May, 7pm
Lutto Lento


Re-Visit: KALEIDOSCOPE Live – Open Music Archive, Premonition 2037: Lutto Lento (on YouTube)