Receive + Return in Gwyl Gerdd Bangor, Bangor Music Festival
Receive + Return, an art work created by CAT artists in residence Christine Mills and Carlos Pinatti, was shown for two days in the Deilniol Shopping Centre in Bangor as part of the programme for the Bangor Music Festival, Gwyl Gerdd Bangor, running over four days in early March.
An empty shop was transformed into a temporary art gallery. Through the large glass windows a 1970s television unit showed a film of an hourglass keeping time passing, around and around again, suggesting the question, is there an end of time? Or to put it another way is time a renewable resource?
A ping-pong table occupied most of the room, inviting shoppers and passers-by into a game. There is certainly always an end to the game. The question is do you play to win or to keep the game going? A soundscape of dissonant rhythmic balls ping-ponging frames the four corners of the table, overlaying present and past, keeping the clock ticking. Have we ever been here before?
The opening event on a Friday lunchtime included musical performances by primary school age children, interpreting the story of endangered animals, and Bangor University students of Composition, who had been invited to respond to the piece and its themes of ecology, sustainability and giving something back. The inspired compositions ranged from traditional classical quartet arrangements to a call-response improvisation between oboe and singing bowl, to a full ensemble, including ping pong table gamers being conducted by the composer whose piece unravelled in tandem with the progress of the game, responding to the tone and tactic of the gamers.
This is how an installation work becomes a social sculpture, the three dimensions of objects in space expanded by the dimensions of imagination, memory and association. This was also how the work started, one year ago in the WISE building at CAT, asking CAT students and staff to represent the world through their values, their vision of the global dynamics of relationships and resources. The resulting digital global imagery became the subtlety of the table, the meaning making marks split in half by the net into northern and southern hemispheres. Suddenly patterns of historical colonial relationships of trade, religion, resources, power and privilege emerge, and watching a game being played on top becomes simultaneously pathetic and disturbing.
It’s the layers of complexity unfolding in the personal experience and the collective understanding that give the piece gravitas, and to experience it in such a popular localised context was moving indeed. As we watched and listened we began to get a sense of what the pathos of artworks emerging from CAT might be, and how re-contextualising them in other settings is affirming.