Audio intervention and fashion catwalk
Collaboration between sound artist Lisa Hall and fashion designer Quoi Alexander
At the V&A Friday Late Spectacle of the Species, 2015
Twelve models travelled through the Museum in a performative catwalk, showcasing both fashion and audio works, inspired by techniques from times past.
The combination of unique and striking tribal garments together with the sound of nature, interrupted and arrested audiences throughout the museum at the Friday Late.
The collaboration was based around a shared interest in ancient techniques in both fashion and sound.
The soundscape consisted of a twelve piece cricket song composition, playing out from hidden speakers in the garments. Each model carried the sounds through the museum as a form of sonic body adornment. The cricket sounds enveloped the models in their song, sounded out the changing acoustics, and playing out to those they passed.
This audio work is a reenactment of a sonic fashion trend from China 1000 years ago. It was first noted in the Tang Dynasty, that crickets were being kept purely for their song. Initially enjoyed as night time music by the wealthy: "Whenever the autumn arrives, the ladies of the palace catch crickets and keep them in small golden cages, which were placed near their pillows so as to hear their songs during the night. This custom was also mirrored by common people.” (ref). Peoples passion for the cricket song developed into a fashion trend around AD900, crickets became portable music players, carried around in clothing using gourd, shell and ivory cages.
The cricket trend can be seen as an early form of today's iPod culture, the work Regresses explores this history of mobile music. Comparing the cricket trend to iPod and headphone use reveals the development of listening and spatial practices - from a holistic bodily listening in a space, to a localised ear based listening, with music that often has false acoustics. The spatial, locative and measurable qualities of sounds in relation to the body are becoming lost.
Regresses was a collaboration with fashion designer Quoi Alexander, each model wore garments from his Autumn/Winter 2015 collection. The designs take inspiration from ancient art in the caves of central Europe. The collection was designed intuitively using a primitive process of drawing with clay, alongside strict technical limitations such as no sewing and cutting fabric from one piece of material.
For more detailed information about Quoi's collection and work please visit Quoi Alexander's website.
Curated by Jennifer Zielinska, V&A Friday Late Programme Coordinator.
Performance / Show producer Kate Lovat
Images by Martha Gut
Performance sound recorded by Artur M Vidal