Great Noises that Fill the Air

Cooper Gallery, Dundee, Scotland, 26 Oct-15 Dec 2018
Left to right: Richard Wilson, Anne Bean, Paul Burwell, steps of Spitalfields Church, 1985

Exhibition, Installations, Screenings, Performance, Symposium, Events

In 2017, Sophia Hao, Director & Principal Curator at Cooper Gallery, Dundee, approached Anne Bean and Richard Wilson about a possible exhibition, loosely termed a ‘retrospective’ of Bow Gamelan Ensemble. Anne and Richard wanted the response to be a way of showing their archives within the spirit of the Bow Gamelan Ensemble so that it was not just a looking back but a dynamic, vibrant space of new potential and stimulation.

Much of the material appearing in this website Archive section was dug out initially for the exhibition.

Exhibition publicity text:
At the loud heart of Great Noises that Fill the Air is a radical take on archival display. Acting as a ‘symbolic score’ heralding new ways of perceiving and creating sound, this newly commissioned kinetic sound installation Bow Lines features sketches, photographs and ephemera from Bow Gamelan Ensemble’s archive placed on ‘music stands’ and bracketed by two giant “thunder sheets”. Underscored by the tumultuous din of their experimental collaborations this collaborative acoustic instrument is activated live by Anne Bean and Richard Wilson at the opening ceremony of the exhibition, filling Cooper Gallery with a vast spectrum of sound rippling on the cusp of meaning.

At the preview of Great Noises that Fill the Air, Anne Bean and Richard Wilson present a newly developed live performance, Nalemag 2, in their new incarnation as W0B. With support from students at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, W0B conjures the unorthodox magic of Bow Gamelan Ensemble using their repertoire and scores of bangs, taps, thumps, rattles, echoes, whispers, blasts, booms, clangs, clashes, howls, peals, pops, roars, rolls, rumbles, slams, smashes, thuds, thumps, thunder, whams, hums, murmurs, purrs, shouts, grunts, hisses, hollers, hoots, claps, screams, screeches, shrieks, wails, whines, whistles, whoops, yammers, sniffs, sobs, squalls, whimpers, groans, laments and sighs.

Acting as a coda to the project the symposium, Scoring Noise brings artists, thinkers, theorists and musicians together in a live act resonating with improvisation, camaraderie, provocation and antagonism. Foregrounding the score as an always provisional starting point, this ‘jamming’ symposium tunes into current social and critical discourse to delineate the politics at stake in the discordances and harmonies that divide and unite ‘noise’ and ‘collective voice’. Speakers include: Sam Ainsley & David HardingAnne Bean & Richard Wilson (Bow Gamelan Ensemble), Graham FagenRob La Frenais and David Toop.

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The whole of Cooper Gallery was taken over with installations and projections.
Downstairs, an image of the last moment of the performance of Nalemag 2, which had taken place at the private view (26 Oct), was projected onto the wall, over the instruments and debris which were left in place. The luminescent liquid that had sprayed out from an electric fan and covered the set-up, as the last action, now glowed in the projection with the audio of the performance playing through it, giving a spectral like feel to the sound, loudly interrupted by the installation More Bangs for your Buck which was a work set off unwittingly by the audience walking through snappits, freshly laid each day. Films of Bow Gamelan Ensemble played on the staircase up to the installation Bow Lines where 60 framed boards of archival materials on specially constructed stands were animated by flickering coloured lights and the timed roar from enormous thunder sheets on motors at each end of the gallery, along with red warning lights.


Installation at Cooper Gallery (2018)


Anne, Richard & Paul (2018)

by Morgan Quaintance

The writer and artist, Morgan Quaintance, wrote an article on the exhibition in Art Monthly magazine, (Dec/Jan 2019) writing:

"It is, after all, the countercultural possibilities of BGE’s work that offer a vital alternative to our standardised present."

Morgan Quaintance used material from the exhibition, as well as filming current footage with Anne and Richard, to make the film Anne, Richard & Paul.

View or download the Art Monthly article PDF (447 KB)