Auto Theatre: A Walk Through Audio Tour (2008)

 

This audio tour was composed in response to the exhibition A Walk Through and its location, The Steven Lawrence Gallery and related sites around Greenwich University. I have to admit that I almost never listen to audio guides in museums or galleries, and very rarely follow guided tours. A degree of my indifference to the form is probably noticeable in this audio tour; it doesn’t guide the visitor around the exhibition very effectively. In fact, for the most part, it doesn’t guide them at all. It is probably better to think of it as an audio work that proposes movement created in response to the exhibition A Walk Through. What’s more, the audio tour doesn’t offer an overview of the exhibition, pulling the many threads together and making sense of the whole. Rather, it presents a deliberately partial and oblique view. In this I was somewhat inspired by a former housemate and British Museum employee’s descriptions of the guided tours that took place at his work which were given by and for Jehova’s Witnesses. They would pass through the museum making observations such as, “this is an ancient Greek statue of a man; of a homosexual man. God said… “


The partiality of the audio tour or better tours, as there are three, is explicit in this multiple choice format. Collage as an aesthetic is common to them all, whether it be the collage of perspectives, of words and language, of space and language, or of time frames. I intend that in the quite open-ended space of this collage, room for interpretation may open up. This stems from a desire to create a tour that does not answer or explain. It should instead be thought of as a work in its own right that adds a further layer to the exhibition, should the visitor wish to engage with it. The type of art that this tour has in its sights is an unfinished art, an art of the event or encounter, an art that requires the active participation of the visitor. In this sense it is the prompt to a firsthand experience rather than the document or explanation of an experience that has already happened to another, elsewhere.



A Walk Through Audio Tour was written and performed by Bill Aitchison and was recorded and composed in collaboration with James Dunn.

The Word Tour

An audio tour in the form of a vocal improvisation using the words visible in the space as the viewer made their way around the exhibition and University. Full duration 25 minutes.



The Excellence Tour

A tour around the exhibition making a corporate form of presentation of features of the environment relevant and otherwise to the exhibition: the University, the artists, the sponsors, the lighting providers, the banks in Canary Wharf visible as you walk from one building to the next, etc. Full duration 31 minutes.




The Confusing Tour

A tour that offered instructions on where to walk that had no particular relationship to the exhibition site whatsoever, a wholly unreliable guide that periodically says, more or less at at random, things like, “turn left, walk to the end of the corridor, up the stairs, through the double doors, turn right.” The recording of the confusing tour is presently unavailable.