Parallel Worlds: Errors vs Alex Frost
Glasgow-based artist Alex Frost and Steev from Errors have teamed up to make a portrait in the form of a record, available during the Glasgow International Festival this April. We chat to the collaborators and hear how it all came about
“It’s one big, horrible, convoluted process,” says Alex Frost, as he tries to describe how him and Steev Livingston from that band called Errors made a track called Wave Rhythm. The project had them doing all sorts, including building a machine and tracing a pattern from one of Steev’s jazzy shirts.
The end result, a flexi disc record, will be available during Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art as part of Rebecca Wilcox and Rob Churm’s project called Prawn’s Pee. Every day of the festival, Prawn’s Pee will produce limited editions of hand-printed paper works featuring a variety of artists. One of the editions will include Steev and Alex’s flexi disc.
Prawn’s Pee approached Alex a while ago and asked if he would like to work with a musician to make a new piece of art. “I spent a bit of time thinking about the musician side of things and went through various options,” says Alex. “One of the things I was quite keen on was working with someone who was working in the electronic music.”
Being a member of Glasgow’s preeminent electronic band perhaps made Steev an obvious choice. “I like the music of Errors and we have friends in common so it was quite natural, and it made sense, for us to work together,” explains Alex.
Likewise, Steev, familiar with Alex’s work, was approached by Prawn’s Pee and asked to get involved with the project. “Initially, they suggested we do a portrait and Alex and I talked about the idea of a portrait,” says Steev. “Alex does portraits, but not typical things – his face on a cappuccino, and things like that. We were interested in pushing that idea of the portrait even further, so we ended up using a shirt of mine we felt represented me – and that was the portrait. That was the starting point for it basically.”
After tracing the pattern onto a disk, Alex went on to make a machine, which is a bit like a player piano or music box, that then plays the tracing. “On the arm of the machine is a music box comb,” explains Steev. “With the pattern on the disk spinning round, whenever one of the raised bits on the disk hits the comb it makes a noise. Then that sound fed into my computer via MIDI. And I used that as the starting point for the tune.”
Alex cites their common interest in the divergent paths of analogue and digital technologies as an important element in their collaboration. “I like this relationship between the whole analogue process of making something in a craft-like fashion, as well as working with contemporary digital technology – the interrelationship between human and inhuman,” explains Alex. “I think there are parallels between this and the kind of music Errors make, which is often about that kind of thing. There’s a lot of reference to old technology in their music.”
The resulting track is a complex layering of sounds that seem to span the analogue and digital divide. Taking the dance music crescendo to Wagnerian heights, it’s basically five minutes of build-up that gets bigger and bigger. Make sure you get your hands on a copy in April.