Performance (2013) & recording (2015), published as vinyl edition (2018)
"I would take great trouble to try and make my copy as good a piece of writing as anything else I might do, as good as a poem written under the same conditions, even (imagining anyone would want to write a poem in half an hour in a cold, windswept football stadium." On Football (1966)
In 1969, English modernist writer B.S. Johnson published the loosely auto-biographical The Unfortunates, a novel following a sportswriter who’s sent to a city to report a football match, only to find himself confronted by ghosts from his past. As “a better solution to the problem of conveying the mind’s randomness than the imposed order of a bound book,” the author published the novel in 25 loose, stapled sections, whereby any reading of the book would produce a different sequence of events, part authored by Johnson, part authored by chance.
In the mid-1960’s Johnson, a lifelong Chelsea supporter, took on work as a football reporter to earn income to support his writing. He reported on weekly English league and cup matches for The Observer and World Cup matches for the India Times. Curious to discover crossovers between Johnson’s writing in his novels and his football reports, artist Chris Evans found them on microfiche at British Library Newspapers, Colindale.
After cross-referencing Johnson’s match-side notes with the published reports, Evans suggested to typographer and performer Will Holder that they be republished, musically, in a manner that would echo the writing methods employed by Johnson. They devised a structure in which they could be scored for speech and a number of improvised themes, one per report, played ‘bottleneck’ on bass guitar. These are supplemented or predicated by two modular pieces of different lengths, percussive (clapping, no clapping) and affective (dramatic rise, dramatic fall, silence) that loop together. Algorithmically, this produces six possible accompaniments—augmenting the spoken reports, which are never delivered at the same speed, since their timing adapts to the bass guitar and vice versa.
B.S. Johnson's newspaper reports published in Bulletin 9 of The Serving Library, edited by Chris Evans
Two takes were recorded by Andy Miller, Hamilton, Scotland, 2015:
33rpm 12" on 180gm vinyl, silkscreened sleeve, signed edition of 200
20 euros + shipping. For countries not listed please email: chrsvns [at] me.com
PRAXES Center for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2015; Kunstverein Koln, 2015; Liverpool Biennial, 2014; Bloomberg Space, 2014; Wysing Arts Centre, 2013; The Northern Charter, 2013; Institute of Jamais Vu, 2013.