REVIEW: David Toop at the Christian Marclay exhibition, White Cube Bermondsey

David Toop at White Cube Bermondsey, Jan 2015.
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

David Toop
(White Cube, Bermondsey, 31st January 2015; part of Christian Marclay's exhibition programme; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

David Toop's absorbing solo performance on the first afternoon of the inaugural weekend of Christian Marclay's exhibition at White Cube set the tone for the twelve week programme of music and sound events that Marclay has devised to complement his multi-media visual art works on display at the Bermondsey gallery.

The Saturday afternoon sets are devoted to improvised solo performances and the Sunday sets are commissions for composer/performers invited by Marclay to collaborate with the London Sinfonietta. The jumping off point for each musical strand is the exhibition itself with its focus on found glass objects, which Marclay has incorporated in to the fabric of the exhibition.

Each performance will be expertly recorded and processed, utilising the skills of David Sheppard, pressed on to vinyl and packaged in screenprinted sleeves in the gallery by The Vinyl Factory and Coriander Press, respectively, and available in limited editions at White Cube.

David Toop at White Cube Bermondsey, Jan 2015.
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

The other strong exhibition theme is Marclay's engagement with onomatopoeias of comic book illustration, which he has previously explored in his Manga Scrolls piece for vocalist, seen at Cafe Oto  and other venues worldwide, and which he has dramatically animated in a room setting for this exhibition.

Toop set up the central area of the gallery with a circular arrangement of glasses at the vortex of which was his laptop, with guitars and other implements loosely set out within the circular stage area. This set up a structural format for his improvised interventions with liquids, pebbles, electrical devices and electronics.

The acoustics of glass were explored as Toop engineered different ways to build up a intriguing soundscape which took on a life of its own once he had set up the rhythms and actions of his demanding interaction with the instruments and objects he had chosen to define its parameters.

David Toop at White Cube Bermondsey, Jan 2015.
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Sounds picked up on small microphones, sometimes submerged in glasses of water, often liminal and watery, occasionally more directly intrusive, were processed through two large speakers to complement the direct sounds of pebbles dropped into and on glasses and sheets of Korean paper. A tiny electric vibrating object applied to manifold surfaces, and two e-bows placed on a guitar fretboard added further layers. By constantly monitoring, interacting and making split second decisions, Toop imposed an indelible artistic imprint on this notable and unique forty-five minute experience for an audience of over two hundred.

A lovely start to this special season.

LINKS: The Christian Marclay Exhibition on the White Cube website 
Details of the eleven Sunday concerts at this exhibition are on the London Sinfonietta website
The names of the solo performers and the works being performed are embargoed until the Wednesday before each weekend's concerts but there is an email sign-up:

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