Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A year in photographs (part one)

It's the New Year, a time for reflection. And this year I have much to be thankful for, because 2014 was truly enjoyable, stimulating, and challenging. I discovered new health ailments (nothing more about those!), travelled to amazing places near and far, heard some fantastic sounds, presented an inordinate number of talks and papers, launched a new career as a film-maker, and made some (personally) significant contributions to research in my field. I also got to watch my wife and daughter enter new creative phases in their lives.

And I took photographs of it all.

So here, in pictures, is a chronology of my 2014.

Our year started with a small bit of kindness, as we helped rehome a stray. Though I have no interest in keeping a dog over the long term, every time we do this my heart breaks a little.

stray dog through dirty window

You get to see art from a different side when you work in a gallery. Don't touch! Keep off the sculpture! What are you doing with your child? Nonetheless, my year spent as assistant at the Limerick City Gallery of Art brought many joys. This shot is from the opening of the Michael Warren exhibition, 23 January.


The spring saw the waters rise up our street. For the first time since living here we were truly face-to-face with what it means to live on an island. (Our parish is completely surrounded by water, so it's more accurate to say we live on an island on an island.) Though we were spared seeing our own home flooded, many others were not so lucky. Almost a year on, people are still living with the aftermath. On February 4 Athlunkard Street looked like this.

belongings on Athlunkard Street 1

I celebrated my birthday alongside Patrick's, with a fantastic dinner at Taikichi restaurant. Limerick now has an excellent Japanese and two good Thai restaurants, after years of mediocrity. I vote for a Vietnamese café next!

Sushi Platter

On February 11 I got very wet and very cold, recording snow on the Shannon River. Though the resulting tape wasn't great, the experience was somehow worth it.

snow on the Shannon 1

The next day, February 12, a fierce storm brought down trees across town, decimating People's Park.

Tree down at People's Park

Things were warmer on Valentine's Day. The Patterns Dance Collective, curated by Angie Smalis, conjured up the Essence of Love at Daghdha Space, John's Square, Limerick.

dancing feet

On February 15, German label Gruenrekorder released my collaboration with David Colohan. ...between... is available as a digital download, complete with a suite of photos. This album walks something of a creative tightrope, mixing ambience and location recordings of music. I am not normally so happy with the results of my labour, but am proud of the imaginary places conjured up by this record. Get it here.


Limerick Youth Theatre presented "After the Flat", March 4-5 at 69 O'Connell St. Róisín Kelly designed the costumes!

After the Flat

As it does each year, St. Patrick's Day transformed the city. From the City Art Gallery, I had a ring-side seat as the bands prepared for their parade. Spot the Irish flag in this shot!

St. Patrick's Day transformed

March 27-28 I attended the conference "Urban Soundscapes and Critical Citizenship", on my own doorstep at the University of Limerick. I presented the paper "The Sono Prototype and Alberti's Window". On the final night, several of us gathered to create a collaborative soundscape composition. Thanks to Susannah for this photo, about the only one in which I seem happy to be performing. (Normally I am not unhappy, merely concentrating.)

Robin Parmar

On April 26 I performed as part of the occasional series Pigtown Scratchings, at Dr. John's, Limerick. All things come to an end, and John Greenwood has recently put this venture to rest. But cheers to him for being so creative in the first place! In the time Dr. John's was a going concern, I might have been the only person to actually play the bar.

Robin Parmar playing the bar

But my favourite performance was Sonic Vigil 8, the collaborative festival that takes place every year in Cork. This time we gathered in St. Anne's Church, Shandon, on May 3. A couple dozen different improvisers were allocated play slots by a computer algorithm, so we didn't know in advance who our musical partners would be. In the previous photo you saw the back of my head, now here's the back of Tony Langlois!

Tony Langlois at Sonic Vigil 8

Later in May I made a trip to Leicester to chat with my thesis advisers at De Montfort University. I presented the initial outline of my doctoral research as "Field Recording and the Construction of Place" on the 21st. On the way back, I stopped off at the Science Museum, London, where I played with a digital recreation of the Oramics Machine and -- better yet -- got to see the original in all its valve tube glory.

Oramics Machine DETAIL

Already no-one has any idea of what to call me: composer? improviser? researcher? photographer? poet? In 2014 I made this task even more difficult by presenting multiple films in multiple festivals. Indeed, 2014 was the year I "came out" as a film-maker. Between May 29 and June 1, two of my films were featured at "Transit Spaces/Transitory Encounters", held by the Irish Centre for Transnational Studies (Mary Immaculate College and University of Limerick).

Methods of Hypnosis [walk]

Lately I keep having surreal moments in which people out of my record collection and bookshelf start appearing as living breathing human beings with which I must interact. On June 9, The Guesthouse in Cork hosted "An Evening With Pauline Oliveros". Included were The Quiet Club, Karen Power, Harry Moore, John Godfrey, and other collaborators. I played seashell with Pauline.

Pauline Oliveros and Robin Parmar

On June 15, Susannah and I discovered an enchanted stairway.

mossy stairway

It was a year of much celebration in Limerick, which had been granted the title of Irish City of Culture. In fact I don't have too many photographs that relate to City of Culture. Other people were tasked with documenting the activities, and I wasn't included in any official capacity. But I thought I should share something of the street art, which was everywhere.

Limerick street art

Music is always a vital part of life in Limerick. On June 29 I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with The After Party as part of Clohessy's Sunday Jazz Brunch.

Paddy Shanahan of The After Party

Fast-forwarding a bit... On July 14 I discovered that my biggest supporter is Kevin Keily Jr. He curated an evening of four of my experimental films for "Motion Pictures at the Mez", a regular event at the Red Hen bar. While this was certainly not what the audience were used to seeing, I received some enthusiastic comments amidst the bemused looks. Thanks Kevin!

Motion Pictures at the Mez, Red Hen, 14 July 2014

That was the first half of the year, but only the start of the story. The second half included trips to foreign lands, my most popular talk ever, poetry, politics, and a good deal more food. Stay tuned!


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