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Slow Work for Fast Times
Hayden Stuart
5 April – 29 April

I’ve been listening to a lot of New Age music lately. I think of it as a phase in the exploration of my musical interests, but one that seems decidedly relevant to the progress of my artistic practice.

New Age music can be difficult to define, as it has no underlying formal qualities. Instead, it is more closely understood as embodying a certain sensibility that feeds into the larger New Age community. As Dennis Hall describes, in New Age music: A Voice of Liminality in Postmodern Popular Culture, it embodies “a self-conscious experience of the indeterminate, the decentred and the transitional”.(1)

The most important aspect of New Age music in regards to my practice is its post-modern characteristics and its liminality. First of all, its indefinability is a typical characteristic of contemporary post-modern art practices and is closely related to my interest in dandyism, exhibited in artists such as Michael Krebber. Secondly, its reliance on strategies of quotation and repetition, often lifting sounds from nature and everyday background noises, as well as its rejection of formal compositional structures such as intro, verse, chorus. Lastly, as a site of liminality, a marker of transitional space, positioning itself in the background as we engage with the world.

I think it’s important that we pay attention to these states of transition and transformation, especially in our current global political situation. I believe that New Age music teaches us to pay attention to what is happening on the periphery of our consciousness, and to “mark and so to recognise and ease the frequent experience of transformations,” providing a space set apart, both temporal and psychological, that promotes transformations from one condition to another.(2) In our current fast-paced post-capitalist world, these transitions and transformations are happening constantly. Take for instance, social media’s live news feeds; Bitcoin’s hyper variability and recent crash; and regular iOS updates slowing down my iPhone but providing me access to more and more emojis.

Inspired by the slogan from New Age radio program, Hearts of Space, “slow music for fast times”, I am interested in making works that slow down and highlight what is happening in the periphery of our experience, and hopefully help navigate through these constant states of transformation and liminality.

1. Hall, Dennis (1994) New Age music: A voice of liminality in postmodern popular culture, Popular Music and Society, p. 13
2. ibid, p.19

Hayden Stuart is the director of HADES gallery and studios in Brunswick East, Melbourne. He has exhibited as an artist both independently and collaboratively at galleries such as Bus Projects, George Paton Gallery and Visual Bulk, as well as organising offsite projects and travelling exhibitions.

Curated by Siobhan Sloper

Image: Hayden Stuart, Journey to the Edge of the Universe, 2018, coloured pencil on paper, 59.4 x 84.1 cm.

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