I was invited to write this 'spotlight' feature on another composer featured in the British Music Collection . I couldn’t decide who to choose, so after racking my brain I thought a more interesting way of doing it would be to delve into the collection and have a listen to things I’m not familiar with. So after a couple of days of listening I have come to really love the work of Stephen Cornford.
Stephen is an installation artist and experimental musician who works by reconfiguring consumer electronics. I was first drawn to the work Solipsism Cinema as much for the stunning visuals as the sound. The work focuses on the physical mechanics and optics of 16mm projectors and involves two projections – the blurb states ‘In performance the projector (re)produces its own image on the screen in front of us, the gaze of the audience is met only by the gaze of the machine looking back at them.’
The visuals are two studies of projectors, where the aesthetic of the 16mm film is used to great effect; the images work together to draw you to the sound. They are simple and cinematic – they remind me of the films of Fernand Leger and Man Ray.
The audio starts with the romantic sound of film going through projectors, the rhythm familiar to those of us that remember pre digital. This pure sound is slowly filtered and manipulated to produce a modern glitchy low fi palette of clicks, synth tones and fuzz. Subtle and engaging and absolutely beautiful, I would love to see and hear the piece as intended. Saying that, it works both as an online film and as an audio only track – I’ve been listening to it on and off for a couple of weeks now and beneath the simplicity is a rich sound world.
I’ve really enjoyed exploring Stephen’s work, another favourite is Archipelago - a sculpture for 53 portable CD players.