Magna – Node/Flow/Mass

Sunday 4 November 2012
Node/Flow/Mass: Disaster Box
a large-scale improvisational event co-curated by Geoff Bright, Matt Harling, Walt Shaw and Gillian Whiteley at Magna, Rotherham

Feature photo (above) of participants by Kathy Dinsdale

Watch the video on youtube  here





Preliminary outline of event : Duration: 1- 1.5 hours

Instrumentation: around 50 players/singers from Juxtavoices/Gated Community/Birmingham Improviser’s Orchestra and other invited collectives/individuals

Plan/diagram for event by Walt Shaw

Outline/description and all text by Geoff Bright

This sound provocation comes out of work on post industrial spaces as ‘ghosted sites of insubordination’ and, in doing so, also draws on ideas of rhizomatic fields of connection in Deleuze and Guattari, aspects of Situationist psychogeography and some ideas about space, aesthetics and materiality in industrial ruins developed in cultural geography by Tim Edensor. Basically, the piece concretely challenges the tendency of ‘heritage’ to pacify and ‘smooth over’ the space of industrial ruins, turning them into sites of cultural consumption. Instead, it seeks by non-representational means to raise the spectre of hidden massification that lurks in a site like Magna:

Hidden in ruins are forgotten forms of collectivity and solidarity, lost skills, ways of behaving and feeling, traces of arcane language, and neglected historical and contemporary forms of social enterprise. (Edensor, 2005: 166-167)

In such sites“…ruins are rampantly haunted by a horde of absent presences, a series of signs of the past that cannot be categorised but [are] intuitively grasped” (ibid.: 152) where “counter-memories can be articulated (ibid.: 164) – not through conventionally demonstrable knowledge forms but where they understood at an ‘intuitive and affective level’. (Edensor, 2005: 164).

Using site maps/plans as the basis for a graphic psychogeographic ‘score’, the sound provocation will commence from ‘nodes’ of four to six singers/players who will occupy their improvisatory space for a time before moving off in processional flows of mixed improvised voice and sound, three dimensionally, from the perimeter of the site eventually to its centre. Periodically, these flows will coalesce in ‘nodes of occupation’ then move on to seek out other nodes, pursuing them along intuitive and affective ‘lines of flight’ through the space/place/time of the site. Ultimately congregating in the core of the site the mass will hold the centre in silent contemplation of the affective journey they have made through the site. At a pre arranged signal a mass improvisation will take place. As the level of sound becomes injurious, nodes will sporadically break away, retreat along routes of dispersion once again to their original location at periphery of the site.

Invitation to participate in a sound improvisation performance at Magna Science Adventure Centre, Rotherham on Sunday 4th November 2012.

(Take the tour at

You are invited to be part of a performance of Node/Flow/Mass: Disaster Box a piece for improvising musicians devised by Geoff Bright and co-curated by Geoff Bright, Matt Harling, Walt Shaw and Gillian Whiteley

Node/Flow/Mass (Disaster Box)is an improvising performance in two phases lasting around 80 minutes in total. The aim is to bring together 50-plus players/vocal improvisers mainly from the two ‘metal bashing’ areas of Sheffield/Rotherham and Birmingham/Coventry in the massive and magnificent post-industrial site – a former steel melting shop – at Magna.

Fundamentally, the piece works with the idea of social processes and flows whereby individuals gather in groups, congregate as large collectives, and disperse once again. Through sonic improvisation, it explores the psychogeography involved in the evacuation of a work place inspired by a ‘found object’: the original 1970s (Magna) steelworks’ ‘Disaster Box’ containing plans, maps and procedures for evacuation in the event of catastrophic explosion, hence the title of the piece.

Basic Description

Phase 1 The piece will begin with ‘nodes’ of 10-15 improvisers clustered in each of the 4 pavilions of the site: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. At a fixed time and under the guidance of a ‘marshal’ (in the spirit of the actual Disaster Plan) each cluster will make a procession along a designated route to the Face of Steel gallery, improvising with voice and/or mobile acoustic instruments/devices along the way. The opportunities to interact sonically with the environment and with each other are very considerable and it is envisaged that the possibilities of this phase (more details given at a formal briefing on the day) will need around 45 minutes to fully exploit before everyone follows their marshal into the large space of the Face of Steel for the end of phase 1 and the beginning of phase 2.

Phase 2 Will be a conducted improvisation led by two invited conductors employing a small number of basic conducting signals. As a means of realising the conductors’ directions, instrumentalists will respond by working to a simple graphic score and vocalists to a pre set list of single words and one single sentence (full details and a short ‘run through’ at the formal briefing on the day). Basically, the invited conductors will work with the ensemble to spontaneously structure a 45 minute performance exploring the sonic interplay between individuals, small units and the full collective.It will be possible for non-mobile and electric instruments to be set up in advance and used in this phase in a semi-acoustic set-up, no P.A., so smallish combos etc (musicians using electrics, kits, bow- chime, vibraphones etc. during phase 2 will obviously need to choose something they can play while moving in Phase 1 – small percussion, a wind or brass instrument, beaters, voice, whatever!)


There will be no need to prepare anything prior to the day. On the day, a briefing will be given by the curators and conductors. Timings are as follows: Assemble Magna from 11 am for set up, meet and greet etc. Full briefing 12.00 to 12.30. Gig commences at 1.30pm and ends around 3.00pm

This will be a magnificent, large scale event. Please confirm that you will be joining us by emailing Geoff Bright at Friday 26thOctober 2012