From the noise of a piano crashing to the floor to a distorted recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Glasgow-based artist and musician Raydale Dower creates sculptural installations and events that explore sound, music and our experience of space. Through a combination of objects, performance, sound and musical elements, Dower creates provocative, multi-sensory environments that emphasise the sculptural properties of sound and its cultural associations. Dower’s works use acoustic instruments, analogue components and advanced digital technologies to explore the limits of both musical and non-musical sound. He is interested in both the history of music and its modern experimental form, including improvisation. Influences range from electronic and noise music, to Baroque composition and the musical experiments of radical twentieth-century art movements such as Surrealism, Fluxus and Dada.
In 2011 Dower presented Piano Drop in the theatre space of Tramway, Glasgow, capturing the catastrophic act of dropping a piano from the ceiling. It used advanced sound technology to dramatise themes of time and sound. The final work consisted of a slow-motion digital reanimation of the original event, presented as a surround-sound installation. Central to this is Dower’s interest in gesture, sonic space and sculptural form. He often re-enacts or refers to the work of other artists to explore these themes. For the performance Beethoven’s 5th(X8) (2010), he re-created a 1920 Stefan Wolpe performance using eight copies of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on eight turntables at various speeds. This created all manner of mutations and distortions, using cacophony, repetition and silence to explode the structure of the original composition.
Dower’s more ambitious works involve theatre, performance and high spectacle, often made through collaboration with other artists and musicians. In 2010 Dower launched Le Drapeau Noir, a temporary artists’ café and cabaret-style programme of events, developed with fellow artists and musicians Rob Churm and Tony Swain. Presented for the Glasgow International festival, the café provided a place for improvised performances and situations. Le Drapeau Noir became a living sculpture, animated by the audience, artists and performers in equal part.