Cleveland Watkiss, Orphy Robinson and Derek Richards have been collaborators on a range of primarily musical projects for some 20 years. All three artists have worked at the interdisciplinary focal point of theatre in various capacities from composing and musical direction, through to design, acting and direction. Collaborations between Derek Richards and Cleveland Watkiss have seen Richards working in alternating roles as visual artist and then musician. Until now, Richards has rarely combined the two in any single live performance based work. The formation of YMV represents a logical progression for these artists’ ongoing association both subjectively in terms of practice and objectively in terms of context.
While they are accomplished acoustic instrumentalists, creative and innovative use of both analogue and digital technology has been at the centre of most of their collaborations. Throughout their association the artists have engaged in discourse around the potential of convergence and hybridisation that emerge through an holistic approach to integrating their combined practices and experience mediated by new and emerging technologies to explore the intersection between improvisation and audio visual reflection on cultural and political history. “We want to experiment with live multimedia mash-up as a frame for contemporary social, cultural and political discourse, to use the original principles of jazz to inform improvisational practice across the audiovisual sphere and to shake the body and soul – much of which is lacking in a lot of post-rationalised AV work that is emerging from a Eurocentric, mono-cultural digital art sector.”
In preparation for their debut performance on March 12th 2014 at the Forge in Camden, YMA used this residency to experiment with technology, instruments, interface, technique, form and content in order to create a flexible yet robust platform for improvisation.
The Guest Projects Africa residency and Forge performance was informed by recent work that Cleveland and Orphy have been engaging in with an improvisation focus that attempts to disrupt the conventional paradigm of blues structured jazz jam sessions (that now have predictable and indistinguishable outcomes) in order re-engage with the core principles of jazz. All three artists are also concerned with making a place for acoustic instrumentation and virtuosity within digitally mediated audio-visual performance. YMV will feature acoustic instruments and improvised documentary film editing alongside abstract and electronically generated soundscapes, melodies, grooves, harmonies and imagery.
Being awarded the Guest Projects Africa 2014 residency has provided us with a laboratory in which we can experiment and test our assumptions in order ensure that there is a frame and form for what we hope will be an entirely new yet instinctively familiar experience for our audience on March 12th.
Cleveland Watkiss – Vocal instrumentation & spoken word, vocal effects, piano and samples
Orphy Robinson – Xylosynth, keys, samples, audio FX, brass, woodwind and percussion
Derek Richards aka Rizomorph – Live video (visuals), AV samples and effects and percussion.