On Standby (2011) for voices and single screen video. They Clapped Until She Bowed Once More curated by Contemporary Connections, St James’s Piccadilly London, 4th November 2011.
On Standby is a work for single screen video, pre-recorded stereo sound and four female voices. The work uses contemporary found footage taken from a selection of recent mobile phone adverts in which women are the narrators or directors of the technology and their representation whether in voice or image is appropriated from iconic material in visual art and film. On Standby plays inter-textual games with the imagery, script and sounds contained in these adverts, and seeks out the fault lines and limitations in their construction and content. The close harmony vocal music is intended as a way to access these fault lines, to amplify them and to pose questions.
This work was commissioned by musicologist Dr Laura Seddon of Contemporary Connections and premiered at They Clapped Until She Bowed Once More a concert focusing on women composers from the early 20th century and from the present and which celebrated the centenary of the Society of Women Musicians (SWM), which was founded in 1911.
In response to the theme of early 20th century women composers the compositional framework of On Standby focuses on a historical detail from the life of composer Daphne Oram, who was later to become pioneer of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. In 1944 Oram worked at the Royal Albert Hall as a programme engineer and her job was to ensure the continuity of the broadcast in the event of an air raid by synchronising gramophone recordings with the live music. Appropriating the role that Oram took in this context, On Standby incorporates shifts between recorded material and live voice.