I’m delighted to be part of Radio Art Zone’s 100 artists 100-day programme for Esch 2022 European Capital of Culture starting on 18th June. Radio Art Zone is a project by Radio Ara and Mobile Radio as part of Esch 2022. The programme runs until 25th September. My show Dream Stream will be on 22nd August.
Salt Cellar is an experimental radio work. Zoë Strachan and I first performed Salt Cellar as a live-to-air broadcast on Radiophrenia, 11th February 2022, in the Creative Lab at the CCA Glasgow.
What is a prompt? It’s an inciting, a bringing forth, an augury, an urge, a bringing to light. In this live to broadcast performance, Nichola Scrutton and Zoë Strachan employ a cootie catcher (also known as a salt cellar) to provoke a series of discreet but interlinked improvisations based on texts, photographs and physical objects. Thus they seek to enact an archaeology of embodied memory within the palimpsest of a time-limited performance space.
Zoë and I collaborate to make sound art/experimental radio combining newly written and found text, composed sound, field recordings, found sound, voice and improvisation.
Night Vision, my ensemble performance work currently in development, has taken a significant step forward this summer 2021. In August I was extremely grateful to have a week in the main theatre space at CCA Glasgow.
A huge thanks to Alison Peebles, Louise Montgomery, Ian Spink, Lorna Craig and Laura Ellis for their contributions.
Big thanks also to Jim McEwan for sound recordings, Wendy Kirkup and Jim Burns for film/camera work, Kenny Christie and the CCA team, and to Nicholas Bone for eyes and ears.
In addition to the main Night Vision work, many thanks to Aya Kobayashi, Alison Peebles and Ali Robertson for an exploratory day to experiment with the different approaches to the Night Vision text.
I am delighted to have produced some new drawings for the cover of tape / digital album River . Pathway . Static – at Colliding Lines. Release date is Monday 19th July 2021. More info and link for tape purchase at Colliding Lines (which includes a digital version). The digital version is also available at Colliding Lines Bandcamp
Zoë Strachan and I continue our exploration of performing live experimental radio artwork. Up Closeness is a dialogue between two green urban spaces, a close look at the local. An attempt to find small connections amid the dislocation from everyday life. Field recordings and voice sounds are combined with found and composed text to animate distinct temporal spaces. Live improvisation and embedded writing practice enact a mimetic re-inhabiting of space.
We first performed Up Closeness as a live broadcast at Radiophrenia Glasgow on 20th November 2020 in CCA Glasgow.
Necessary Notes: A Vocal Response – solo performance as part of the Stolen Voices album launch on 8th February 2020.
“Nichola Scrutton is, as ever, an absolute wonder- her voice can disarm, charm and bewitch….She takes the listener into otherwordly realms, an uncertain space between sleep and consciousness.” (The Tempohouse)
The album launch was part of a creative research project by Rebecca Collins and Johanna Linsley – more here. The event forms part of ‘The Sonic Study Series: Act I Sonic Practice’ and is a pop-up event for the Festival of Creative Learning 2020, University ofEdinburgh. Many thanks to Rebecca and Johanna for the invitation. More info about the event at CCA Stolen Voices.
From the archive – Bruised was my first solo performance work, made in the early 1990s as part of a collaborative project Segami Dance Company with New Zealand performer Hugh Major. Read more at Segami. I am currently going through archive materials to see what remains from that time.
Zoë Strachan and I created Rays & Correlations for a live broadcast from the Radiophrenia studio on 15th May 2019. This is our third collaborative radio artwork. Previous works are In Transit and Static Flux.
Inspired by the patterns of cosmic ray interactions in a cloud chamber, we imagine the myriad signals and attempts at communication that might enter a sphere and intersect, cluster, miss or fade away. Rays & Correlations is a voice-focused improvised performance with layers of interactive soundscape.
The listener is invited to find a thread to hold onto amid interweaving sparse and dense streams of words and evocations – and to decide whether the sound space is literal, as inside a kind of radome, or metaphorical – representing any individual consciousness trying to make sense of human connection.
Night Vision (working title) is a body of work in development.
The starting point was a series of texts captured in the middle of the night lying down in a semi-conscious state over a two-year period (2017-19). This was a new approach for me as a composer.
Many thanks to writer Em Strang – an early reader of a random, unfiltered selection of the texts. Em’s generous response gave me encouragement to trust my instincts in pursuing the work.
Early inquiries focused on investigating the text, making selections and initial thoughts about how to interact with the texts in performance. In 2019, I had the opportunity to explore those seed ideas in a Magnetic North Rough Mix Residency. The work-in-progress was aired in a public performance at Perth Theatre, Scotland.
I am delighted to say that in early 2021 I was awarded Creative Scotland funding to develop the next phase of the project over a six month period. A few threads are now unfolding, including a more substantial ensemble work for performance (which takes the title Night Vision), as well as a solo recording project, drawings/visual compositions, and micro-commissions.
I will link to more information here in the coming months, and I’m posting occasional updates on social media – you can connect there too if it’s of interest, details are on the Contact page…
When Night Comes was a solo performance created in dialogue with Wendy Kirkup’s film from a score (2017). In the film I perform Berio’s Sequenza III for solo voice. After Wendy’s films were selected to be screened at the 5th Edition of the Beton 7 Festival in Athens, Greece in 2018, I was invited to perform at the opening as a response to the film prior to the screening on the opening night of the festival. My improvised performance drew inspiration and gestures from both my knowledge of Berio’s score and the compositional and material aesthetic of the film itself. The title is a play on a fragment of text from Berio’s score – “before night comes”.
Static Flux is a radio and performance collaboration with writer Zoë Strachan. The work was initially produced as a live studio broadcast for Radiophrenia in 2017 and then subsequently selected for a live performance at Hidden Door Festival 2018.
Static Fluxfocuses on out-of-time memory states, and how they can be both static and in flux. We are interested in exploring narrative and time through chance encounters with remnants, fragments and the ephemera of past lives. Metaphors for our endeavour include the remnants found in second-hand bags and the pockets of clothing, or in notes scribbled on the back of black and white photographs. There is a melancholy air to these things, but as with any kind of haunting, also the potential for fear, and for deeper connections with our own sense of mortality.
A Sura Medura exhibition is running from 21st April to 19th May 2017 at The Briggait in Glasgow. The exhibition includes a range of work by artists who have been artist-in-residence at Sura Medura in Sri Lanka.
Wave Shift, a new work made in collaboration with artist and illustrator Natasha Russell, is premiered as part of the Sura Medura exhibition. Read more about Wave Shift
Wave Shift was originally an experimental audiovisual collaboration with artist and illustrator Natasha Russell in response to the ideas and situations we encountered on the UZ Arts Sura Medura Residency in Sri Lanka. Natasha and I were in residence from October – December 2016, along with Sumit Sarkar and other visiting artists. Following the installation I re-worked Wave Shiftinto a stand alone composition.
During our post-residency collaboration, Natasha and I were interested in the way an understanding of the experience of a place shifts over time, between people, even at the drop of a hat. We decided to weave decaying memories, slippery facts and shifting folklores through sound and print to form a portable set that melts place and atmosphere into an imaginary landscape.
Integrating with the structure and printed visual landscape with the set, my Wave Shift audio was projected into the space as an immersive, abstract, evocative soundscape. Source materials for the work included a selection of field recordings captured during the residency and vocal sound recordings. Both the main thread of sound that underpinned the work, composed with a series of hydrophonerecordings, and the form, which unfolds as a series of wave-like emergences, draw on myriad notions of water as a bridge between real and fictional landscapes.
The installation was exhibited in 2017 at Sura Medura Exhibition, The Briggait, Glasgow and then Summerhall, Edinburgh
The final stage of our residency was focused on preparing for our Moving Out event. The other artists involved were Natasha Russell, Sumit Surkar, Samson Ogiamien, and Rose Staff. On the day, we were thrilled to have a big local crowd join us, and delighted that many people came down from the Colombo Biennale and the University Faculty of Visual and Performing Arts to join us for some or all of the time.
Overall, the day at Sunbeach was a wonderful combination of visual art, sound, sculpture, video, performance, people, food, beer, Arrack sour, sea, sand, laughing, chatting, sharing…and cake (what a fabulous day for a birthday!). In our exhibition, which combined some finished elements and work-in-progress, my sound work Sabda saha Pintura was available as a headphone installation.
The title Sabda saha Pintura means sound and picture in Sinhalese – through much discussion this seemed to be the most apt translation for the collage idea I was working with in the piece. Exploring differences in the English/Sinhalese languages was very intriguing – how or in what way metaphors or concepts translate, for example, sound, soundscape, landscape, environment.
During the afternoon an audiovisual tuk tuk tour was running – a collaboration between Natasha (Russell) and me. Three people at a time could hop into Sudu’s tuk tukand take a short round trip to visit Natasha’s work in local shops accompanied by my soundtrack.
The soundtrack combined recordings I gathered from those shopkeepers introducing themselves and their businesses, shop sounds, etc – the general store, jewellers, barbers, a fruit and veg stall. I also recorded an introduction to the tour in Sinhalese, with pronunciation help from folk at Sunbeach. Big thanks to Sudu and Chinthaka for running the tours.
Early evening, I accompanied Samson Omiagien with some live vocals for his performance piece with sculpture, which we had rehearsed in the lead up to the event. The evening finished with a fantastic Sri Lankan curry banquet.
Big thanks to Neil and all at UZ Arts, Chaminda, Chathura, Hasantha, Kari and all at Sunbeach, Maria and Jack, my fellow artists-in-residence, everyone I met.
Sabda saha Pintura is a sound collage composed on site during the six-week Sura Medura residency with UZ Arts in Sri Lanka using a selection of field recordings captured early in the residency. Repetition and fast cut edits try at the same time to capture something of the sensory experience on arrival in Hikkaduwa and reveal detail in a dense sound world. Sabda saha Pintura had its first airing as a headphone installation at Moving Out for the Colombo Art Biennale in November 2016.
Radiophrenia invited myself and writer Zoë Strachan to collaborate on a Live-to-Air commission. In our collaboration we explored the state of being In Transit and how it disrupts the interior monologues of two people on separate but overlapping journeys of a slightly mysterious kind.
Radiophrenia is a temporary art radio station broadcasting from the CCA in Glasgow. In 2016 it produced a two-week exploration into current trends in sound and transmission arts.
I was thrilled to be selected for a six-week Sura Medura residency with UZ Arts from October to December 2016. The Sura Medura residency on this occasion was being hosted in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. My fellow artists were Natasha Russell and Sumit Sarkar, and two other artists arrived later in the residency – Martin Janicek and Samson Ogiamien. Early experience after arrival was a whirlwind of sensations and there was definitely a process of settling into Sunbeach and adjusting – heat, humidity, sounds, smells, surf, swimming, dogs, jungle, mozzies, food, walks, and meeting many warm friendly folk along the way sharing experiences, tips and ideas.
As part of the residency we travelled to Colombo and gave presentations to staff and students in the University Faculty of Visual and Performing Arts in week 3. That was a really good day – as well as meeting people, we were fortunate to be shown round all the art departments then had lunch before travelling back.
Thinking about soundscapes
The sound environment is generally very dense and I spent quite a bit of time actively listening and drawing.The area has two main aspect – beach and jungle – and each has its own distinct soundscape. On the beach side the sea roars continuously as the surf thunders in and on the jungle side the air is thick with heat, bird song, massive trees rustling and people going about their daily lives. A railway line runs between the two through much of the area and regular trains, horns and bells punctuate the air. In the mix are a whole rich array of sounds – the hollering voices of people selling at markets and on the street, the honking and revving of huge buses overtaking other vehicles at breakneck speed (treacherous), thunderstorms and torrential rain, intermittent firework eruptions, the bread, fish and other vans making melodic announcements and so on. I created two soundscape pieces – Sabda saha Pintura and Wave Shift.
In week five we hosted a Moving Out public event at Sunbeach as part of the Colombo Art Biennale, which was a big success. And actually it was on my birthday so an extra cake was involved at the end of the night. Read a bit more info on that at Moving Out. Finally, we had a trip up to Colombo for the opening of the Biennale. I also had been invited to perform/score a film clip at the opening as part of Video Jam. More info on that at Video Jam…
Huge thanks to Neil and all at UZ Arts, Chaminda, Chathura, Hasantha, Kari and all at Sunbeach, Maria and Jack, my fellow artists-in-residence, everyone I met.
At First Lightis a studio composition (8’49). Arising from an ongoing strand of exploration around ideas of ‘ephemeral’, At First Light is a vocal meditation inspired by the play of light at sunrise and a notion that each moment may be filled with the past, present and future. The process of making the piece involved repeated exploration of the material ideas using a simple MAXMSP patch, with the final work being created in a single real-time improvisation. While a version of the piece was ultimately fixed to become At First Light, inherent in the process and the material is an idea of transient evolution – emergence, cycle and decay.
Sonnets was a series of live, interactive, largely improvised sound poems, and was created for a Radiophrenia live-to-air commission in 2015. The work drew on the root meanings of the title word – from ‘son’ (song) and ‘sonus’ (sound) – rather than the traditional poetic form. I used minimal processing, and focused instead on weaving together a palette of breathy sounds, phonemic fragments and vocal gestures into a series of self-contained but interlinked sound worlds, sometimes with field recordings, to invoke or reference a fictional place or state.
(Please note the sound clips are currently off-air)
The sound artwork is a collage of field recordings, interviews, and music clips that presents a snapshot of KPC. The piece will be available on MP3 players with headphones at KPC during the two-week period and can be downloaded here at KPC Sound Mix.
Many thanks indeed to all the contributors!
Interviews and field recordings
Ammy Jay, Amrik Kanr, Anne Davidson, Catherine Weir, Chris, Clem Sandison, Helen Kyle, Kinning Park Complex, Lindsay Keenan, Nicole’s dance class, Reuben Chesters – Locovore, Women’s cooking/gardening group
Death Rattle/Tricky Erin Scrutton, Nichola Scrutton, Kirsty Ewing, Barbara Chalmers, Michelle Drumm
Luskentyre and Stevie Jones Martin Douglas (tuba)
Sokobauno Puppet and Object Theatre Shane Connolly (composer; reading; performance – accordian, percussion), Stevie Jones (recording), Alasdair Roberts (guitar), Georgie McGeown (flute)
Originally produced by the Gallery of Modern Art, HearAfter was installed in the Round Room on the 2nd floor balcony from 25th October – 2nd December 2013.
HearAfter is a contemplative, immersive pre-composed sound installation inspired by the life cycle, memory, and the process of decay. HearAfter is a pun on ‘hereafter’, which means ‘in the time to follow’ and is often associated with questions about experiences after death. With this in mind, the piece HearAfter, through the present moment of a listening experience, at one level might be heard to tap into memory – a sense of something past, gone, altered or retold, but at the same time could suggest a kind of anticipation of a future that is both factually certain yet remains unknown.
While the human voice is often considered primarily as a communicator of words, I am artistically interested in its potential as sonorous, expressive and sculptural material. The sounds of breathing and an array of vocal gestures weave together with other abstract sounds into a collage of overlapping cycles and collisions.
Producer curator Katie Bruce talks, after the preview, about our first meeting and the HearAfter work at the GoMA blog
Transnational Express, Auricle Sonic Arts Gallery, Christchurch, NZ
Ohrenhoch Sound Gallery, Weichselstr. 4912045 Berlin-Neukölln
25 Oct – 2nd Dec, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland