Composer, performer and sound artist Gleeson co-curated (with Karikis) a programme of Love Songs for Broken Machines specially commissioned from emerging and established contemporary artists and composers. This took place at Kings Place, London in May 2010, where Gleeson’s composition Unspeakable, for solo and recorded voice and bell jar, was performed by Karikis. Gleeson’s research engaged with the process of composition and the exploration of the interrelationships between performer, composer and audience that underpin contemporary performance practices.
Love Songs for Broken Machines introduced a curatorial process of selecting, commissioning and performing new musical works as a means of exploring the Enlightenment period’s fascination in the artificial production of human subjectivity and, in particular, the making, manipulation and construction of love that is portrayed in various operas, novels and plays of the period. Gleeson’s Unspeakable draws upon deconstructed sonic fragments of Mozart’s opera Così fan Tutte in the construction of a composition where the mechanical predictability of love, as presented in the opera, is tested. It questions the Enlightenment idea of subjectivity where the most sublime feelings can be produced by deterministic laws. Gleeson’s composition draws upon the human voice as the vehicle through which the utterances of human subjectivity are heard. It also introduces scientific apparatus of the period, the bell jar, to introduce mechanisms of vacuum control either to silence or to sound out the human voice. Gleeson’s research recontextualised the intellectual heritage of the seventeenth-century scientific enlightenment, aestheticising scientific methodologies, apparatus and laws. His investigation into the sonic possibilities of bell jars was supported by a University of Brighton Innovation Award.
A later presentation of Love Songs for Broken Machines (October 2010), co-curated by Gleeson and experimental voice trio Juice, explored the concept of technology-mediated relationships through music, text, live performance and visuals.