This summer Castlefield Gallery will present Eileen Simpson and Ben White: Open Music Archive, the first UK survey show of the artists’ work from 14 June – 18 August 2019.

The exhibition presents a selection of projects developed over the last ten years in which the artists explore the performative potential of the archive by reanimating copyright-expired archive material.

Featuring sound recordings gleaned from the genesis of the music industry in 1920s Atlanta (ATL 2067 for Flux Night Amman, 2010), a lost feature film from 1950s Jordan (Struggle in Jerash, 2010), and Harry Smith’s celebrated six album compilation, Anthology of American Folk Music (PLAYHEAD: A Parallel Anthology, 2010– ongoing) – the artists deploy rich archive material to produce an open source body of audio-visual work and invite a range of collaborators to produce and perform the public domain.

Eileen Simpson and Ben White were both born in Manchester, 1977 and now living and work in London and Manchester. Simpson and White work at the intersection of art, music and information networks, seeking to challenge default mechanisms for the authorship, ownership and distribution of art. Their ongoing project Open Music Archive is an initiative to source, digitise and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings, and is a vehicle for collaborative projects exploring the material’s potential for reuse.

The survey exhibition at Castlefield Gallery coincides with the premiere of Everything I Have Is Yours, an ambitious film and sound work by Eileen Simpson and Ben White (Open Music Archive) that looks back to the first decade of the UK pop charts (1952-62). It has been commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, Contemporary Art Society, University of Salford Art Collection and Castlefield Gallery and presented at Salford Museum and Art Gallery from 4 July – 3 November 2019. An edition of the film will enter the University of Salford Art Collection.

Working with a group of older musicians – many of whom are the ‘original teenagers’ of the Greater Manchester music scene, now in their 70s and 80s – the film focuses on this diverse group as they re-engage with public-domain samples from the formative era of the ‘birth of pop’, and incorporate these timeless sounds into new musical creations.

When the musicians play, they individually and collectively interact with digital technology, recalling archive sounds ripped from 1950s and early 1960s shellac and vinyl chart hits. Copyright-controlled elements of the original records are separated out and copyright-expired samples are released through an algorithmic process to enable collective use for the project and for future sharing.

Exhibition Title:  Eileen Simpson and Ben White: Open Music Archive

Exhibition Dates:  14 June – 18 August 2019

Venue:  Castlefield Gallery, 2 Hewitt Street, Manchester, M15 4GB

Tel:  0161 832 8034


Opening Times:  Wed to Sun 12noon – 5.30pm

Admission:  FREE.  The gallery is fully wheelchair accessible


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