Celebration of The Agents of the Apocalypse – 
John Godfrey

“I made CAA for 'Under the Influence of Fluxus’ curated by Danny McCarthy, which took place at the Glucksman Gallery in Cork as part of Cork Sound Fair 2019. One thing I really love about Fluxus is that it’s simple; it allows anyone to embrace its principles, and yet the result often has profound things to say about the way we perceive, and the way we engage with our world. It minimises making in favour of experiencing, and is quite unprejudiced about what we might experience: Fluxus is willing to be about pretty much anything, including things that are ludicrous. Maciunas calls it “Art-Amusement”.

CAA asks players to tie strings to plastic objects and then to drag them along the ground, listening to the result. The players don’t ‘perform’ with the objects: they just pull them, and the objects do whatever they do in response to the ground. Many plastic things produce a lot of interesting sounds - pitches, noise, crackles, pops, rattles and rumbles - and the unevenness of the ground produces a scintillating variety of unpredictable timbres. When you make an ensemble of plastic things, you get a complex of timbres that interact, and these are fascinating to listen to. ACAA is a walking meditation: people are there to meditate on the sound of the objects as they’re dragged, not to make something with them. 

When performed at the premiere, a group of 9 people dragged their objects slowly over the rough tar and gravel paths outside the Glucksman and over the wooden planks of the River Lee footbridge. Objects ranging in size from a water butt to a soap dispenser voiced the paths as we went, and the chorus in conjunction with the slow walk became mesmeric and intense. Witnesses, out for a morning walk beside the river with their dog, naturally considered us crazy, which only intensified the experience for them and us. 

Kirkos performed their version in a man-made canyon, spreading themselves along the path that simultaneously entrained the resulting sound and mingled it with the sound of the city around it. Imagine the colouring of the sound, the echoes and re-echoes that resulted! We hear only what the camera heard, but for each participant and listener present, the experience was different. 

The Fluxus approach is liberating: we can be free of the pressures of ‘making’ and let ourselves embrace the richnesses of something straightforward that we’re simply doing; if that something is ‘tuned’ right, it can be amazing what there is to experience.

The title refers, of course, to the deluge of plastic mankind has produced, and continues to produce, which is gradually poisoning our seas, our land and even our air. This is a sardonic ‘celebration', but at least the sound that the objects produce will remain only in our memories once the performance has finished.”

—John Godfrey

( Watch video here )

John Godfrey has been a composer, a performer, and a promoter of contemporary art music for more than 25 years. In 1989, he co-founded the group Icebreaker in the UK; in 1997, he became a founding member of Ireland’s Crash Ensemble. In 2008, he established Quiet Music Ensemble, a group dedicated to experimental and improvised music. Godfrey has appeared in Europe, USA, Australia and Japan, has been broadcast worldwide and has released many CDs. He has directed several Festivals in Ireland. He is a Senior Lecturer at University College Cork (Ireland), where he teaches Experimental Music, composition, performance, improvisation, history and aesthetics of contemporary music and music technology.