Sunday, 24 November 2013

Bob Cobbing - ABC in Sound, Exhibition Research Centre LJMU

I’m approaching the exhibition and can hear an amplified human voice, echo and bounce of the concrete walls. The voice moulds itself to this space and the space in turns reshapes the voice. This play between the voice and space seems apt as the exhibition is an retrospective of the work of the ‘concrete poet’ Bob Cobbing.

This is actually my second visit to the exhibition I don’t quite remember it being this ‘vocal’ it seems that the recording of Cobbing’s poetry is higher in the mix, perhaps. Now as I attempt to write about them I come to the point where I either try to describe the configuration of the syntax which fall, skip and crash all around the gallery space. It might be futile, even redundant to explain what’s happening aurally.

So what’s happening visually? Well there’s plenty series of prints shown across a specially constructed framework, along with various collections of clippings. The prints are of letters, words forms of poetry. As you eye scans each image your mind goes through a process which the shapes and forms promote a kind of mental reverberation, much like what’s happening as you read these words.  To make things more complex each of these symbols and the sound that are attached to them also threaded to a myriad of cultural meanings.

That is language (I think)

This is a focal point for the exhibition Cobbing like Schwitters, Stockhausen explore this complex web of language. How the combination of symbol and sound equals meaning, this isn’t solely explored through Cobbing’s vocalisations it is explored via his printed works. Both in the performance and prints we see the same process, where words are arranged, overlapped, repeated, this process emphasises the nature of the sigil in language.

This way of approaching the spoken and printed word would seem to be an attempt to dislocate the symbols and sounds which make up language from its original meanings and create new meanings and associations. This dislocation can also be seen as a way of confirming this on-going relationship between symbol, sound and culture which is human commutation.

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