Incantation, Wendy [2021]

publication / / credits here >

Incantation, Wendy is a book that functions as an incantation for Wendy, a film fan-letter from artist Frances Scott to composer Wendy Carlos. Written contributions from Beth Bramich, Stine Hebert, Juliet Jacques, Tom Richards, Chu-Li Shewring and Dave Tompkins accompany hand-drawn music scores, film stills and script notes produced during Scott’s research, and her moving image work, Valentina (2020), a rehearsal to camera with performer Valentina Formenti.

Incantation, Wendy precedes the film, Wendy and meditates on Carlos as “The Original Synth”, moving across channels that speak of the unbounded voice in collaboration, synthesis, transition, through vocoders, archives, re-readings, light pulses, solar flares, cyclical returns, and in concert with horses, moons, and a sun, eclipsing as it rises above the horizon.

switching, like an eclipse, making a circle, 
 shaping, my hands, shaping

[Valentina, 2020]


rehearsal letter [2021]

Single channel film, 13 min 56 sec, HD video and 16mm transfer to digital, black and white, stereo / / film credits, exhibitions and screenings here >

rehearsal letter is a recorded studio session with musician and instrument designer Tom Richards, produced as part of the development of a soundtrack ‘Wendy’, and commissioned by transmediale x CTM. Richards re-interpreted pages from Carlos’ original scores from 'Timesteps' and 'Theme from A Clockwork Orange - Beethovania' (1971) using the Mini Oramics machine which he built in 2016. Mini Oramics is based on an original 1976 design by composer and inventor Daphne Oram. It is a musical interface which allows the composer to draw graphic scores on overhead projector rolls, which are then read directly by the machine, creating ‘drawn sound synthesis’. A ‘rehearsal letter’ is a letter of the alphabet used at structural points in an orchestral score, to indicate where a musician or performer might begin, other than the start of the piece or movement. In this spirit, the session presents fragments of a score in the process of its construction.

Film viewable on the transmediale website, and conversation with curator Ben Evans James [transmediale], Christine Kakaire [CTM], Tom Richards and Frances Scott produced for the first instalment of the almanac.


Valentina [2020]

3 minutes 55 seconds 16mm transfer to digital, black and white, stereo / / film credits, exhibitions and screenings here >

Valentina is a prelude to Wendy, a speculative portrait of and film fan-letter to composer and musician Wendy Carlos - self-described as “The Original Synth”. In Valentina, an unedited 100ft reel of hand-processed 16mm film, shot in rehearsal, is used as a silent score for a reading. Performer and dancer Valentina Formenti recalls part of a transcribed interview with Carlos, later edited for publication in ‘Playboy’ in 1979. Whilst the magazine interview was seen as the first public announcement of Carlos’ transition, these absent passages, excluded from the final edit, include her connected interests in cartography, physics, mathematics’ transformations, astronomy, and her practice in solar eclipse photography. Valentina's multiple voices are translated through Vocoder, and collaged with musician Tom Richards’ performance on Daphne Oram’s unrealised ‘Mini-Oramics’, to suggest a coming into being through sonic synthesis.

‘…imagining a world without gender, which is perhaps a world without genesis, but maybe also a world without end.' [Donna Haraway, ’A Manifesto for Cyborgs’, Socialist Review, no.80, 1985]

Commissioned by TACO! with support from Arts Council England.



Incantation, Wendy [2018]

100 minutes, stereo

“Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh. The trombones crunched redgold under my bed, and behind my gulliver the trumpets three-wise silverflamed, and there by the door the timps rolling through my guts and out again crunched like candy thunder.” [1]

Incantation, Wendy is a recorded broadcast for radio by Frances Scott and Chu-Li Shewring. The piece looks to the work of pioneering composer and musician Wendy Carlos. Carlos famously arranged the distinctive soundtracks for Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ [1971] and ‘The Shining’ [1981], and spearheaded developments on the Moog Synthesiser and use of the Vocoder. Incantation, Wendy includes excerpts and full recordings from Carlos' extraordinary practice, including unused material intended for ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘The Shining’. and recordings by the artists, as music from the recording session bleeds into sounds beyond the studio, and scripted readings using a Vocoder invoke the spirit of 'Danny' - “A shine knows a shine.” [2]

The broadcast includes the following excerpts and tracks from Wendy Carlos’ oeuvre: ‘Switched-On Bach’ [1968]; ‘The Well Tempered Synthesiser’ [1969]; ‘Sonic Seasonings’ [1972]; ‘Wendy Carlos' A Clockwork Orange’ [1972]; ‘Digital Moonscapes’ [1984]; ‘Beauty in the Beast’ [1986]; ‘Wendy Carlos: Secrets of Synthesis’ [1987]; ‘By Request’ [2003]; and ‘Quintessential Archeomusicology - Film Music by Wendy Carlos: Rediscovering Lost Scores Vol.1’ [1972 - 2005]

Incantation, Wendy was first commissioned by TACO! [Thamesmead Arts and Culture Office] for community radio station RTM.FM and performed as a live session as part of TEN SLOTTE programme, curated by Vincent Stroep/Escautville for Het Bos, Antwerp. It was recorded at Totland Bay on the Isle of Wight, October 2018 and forms part of a research residency at TACO! which will culminate in a new, long-form film.

As part of the research programme, Frances initiated 'VHS' with curator Mat Jenner, a regular film event at TACO!, where each screening is selected by invited contributors to form an expanding programme of moving image. 'Collapse' was the first event in the series. 'VHS' takes its title as an acronym from Anthony Burgess’ nadsat vocabulary – a fictional language of ‘a not-too-distant future’ - developed for 'A Clockwork Orange', scenes from which were later shot on the Thamesmead estate. ‘Viddy’ means to see or look, and ‘horrorshow’ indicates ‘well’ or ‘good’.


Images: 1. Frances Scott, 'Diviner' [2017]; 2. Tom Richards and Frances Scott, 'rehearsal letter' [2021], film still from recorded studio session; 3. Frances Scott, 'Valentina' [2020], film still; 4. Photograph by Vernon Smith, taken of Wendy Carlos in her studio, 1984 [during the release of 'Digital Moonscapes'], copyright Wendy Carlos. Footnotes: [1] Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange [1962]; [2] Stephen King, The Shining [1977].