Murmurations: Jed Speare and Strange Attractor (intentionally fragmented)

by EL Putnam

A murmuration is a flock of starlings — individual birds that temporarily coalesce as they migrate in formation.


On a cool day in October, Jed Speare performed with Strange Attractor on the balcony of the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Ireland. This was the last time I saw him perform live. Live in this context does not just relate to the act of presenting art in real time, but concerns shared sentient existence.


The performance is four hours; a flexible coherence where artists occasionally slip out for a cup of tea to counter the chill in the air.


The sounds merge with the those emitting from the harbour: a crinkle of paper; the strum of a guitar; the rumbling bass of a boat horn; the crackle of cassette tape; an electronic pulse; the subsonic drones of a passing cargo ship.


A familiar rhythm gathers through improvisation as experiences collide, forming a temporary conglomerate where for a moment everything comes together.


Hands of the makers, crafting sounds; an ephemeral soundscape that slips into the environment.


The occasional babble of a baby unknowingly wandering through the scene.


Whispers of an organic unity with forms colliding; a sound close to my soul.











Postscript — in memorium of Jed Speare (1954 – 2016)

Jed taught us a lot about being an artist through his words and actions, lessons that I hold dearly and remind myself of regularly in order to counter the difficulties of this precarious path. He taught us that art brings people together, navigating a creative terrain that opens up worlds. He taught us the importance of kindness, generosity, honesty, and sincerity. He taught us the importance of taking practice seriously and thoughtfully through all stages of experimental play in order to allow a work to reach it’s full potential. He taught us the significance of art’s radical nature. He taught us to pay attention to details and to speak up when something is not right. He taught us to be careful with language. He taught us to historicize practice, to know predecessors and influences, to embrace and to learn from them. He still teaches us to keep going, no matter what. I feel honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to know and work with Jed Speare.


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