Unravel# is a sound art collaboration between Edinburgh electronic band FOUND (so named because they make their music using ‘found’ sounds) and Aidan Moffat (ex of Arab Strap).
The installation has been on for most of the last month as part of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, at SWG3 on Eastville Place in Glasgow (just across the motorway from the SECC though that’s not a way of getting there by foot I’d recommend as the roadsigns lie) which is a bit of an adventure to find, being that it wasn’t actually in the building with the big SWG3 sign on it but rather in a nice little gallery space they have under one of the arches. I’m just glad that Tommy from the band worked on the Riverside Project with us – composing the music for the Car and Bike Walls – as otherwise I might not have persisted, and Unravel, when I found it, was worth the finding.
The exhibit itself is a clever little mediation on the unreliability and malleability of memory. Consisting of ten different memories sparked off by ten different vinyl singles and affected by 4 different factors – time of day, how big the audience is, the weather and whether people are saying nice or mean things about the exhibit on twitter – best use of social media in art that I’ve seen. Visitors pick a record and put it on, which in turn triggers a laptop to choose a recording based on the factors measured on the dials which in turn set off the instruments to play the accompanying tunes automatically. I had an oddly large amount of fun watching the instruments play themselves – apparently using the same technology that makes mobile phones vibrate, which made me want to take them apart and put them back together to see exactly how they worked – and the couple ahead of me were clearly enjoying trying to manipulate the stories with encouraging/discouraging tweets.
There were apparently 160 different recordings made to cover all the possible variations and when I visited on the last day of the exhibition the gallery assistant assured us that she was still discovering versions she hadn’t heard before. It was a shame in that sense that it wasn’t in a space more suited to casual passers by dropping in and coming back several times to hear how it changed with weather and audience and time. Yet it was rather nice knowing that the feeling I sometimes get when I read reviews of art exhibits – that I’ve seen a completely different exhibition to them – was objective rather than subjective, only visitors who arrived and left at the exact same time will have heard the exact same thing.