Kill Your Timid Notion 2010 seeks to rewrite the rules of engagement

Kill Your Timid Notion 2010 seeks to rewrite the rules of engagement

Rosalie Doubal talks to the organisers and artists behind Kill Your Timid Notion, a festival that wants to provoke, excite and liberate you

Kill Your Timid Notion experimental sound and image festival has been disrupting the peace in Dundee for seven riotous, challenging and boundary pushing years. For 2010 however, the artists are seeking something straightforward from their audiences – participation. Handclapping and foot stomping theatrics will not be required. Instead the artists, improvisers and musicians are asking their public to actually materialise and complete their works. Using sound, film and dialogue as tools to provoke engagement, each artist will present a performance that uses responses as its very material. Painters use paint, musicians use sound and Kill Your Timid Notion artists use collective participation.

‘Films, paintings, sculptures – that isn’t art,’ declares festival organiser Barry Esson. ‘Art is the process that produces those things.’ Esson, and co-director Bryony McIntyre run Arika, the team behind experimental art and film events including the respected Glasgow music festival, Instal. Taking the ‘art is process’ opinion as a leaping point, Arika have curated a deliberately open-ended Kill Your Timid Notion (or KYTN) this year. ‘Participants are going to have the chance to shape what artists do, test out their suggestions and even obviate the need for the artist to do anything at all.’ Artists making work that destroys the role of the artist? It makes the brain throb to consider it.

Like trying to conceive infinity or imagine what lies beyond the universe, thinking about uncompleted artworks, performances determined by audiences and sound art that’s got, well, nothing to do with sound, hurts a little. And unusually, one of the festival’s aims is to cause this unease – to de-stabilise our normalisation processes. Stripping back music and film to their core concepts, KYTN is urging a re-examination of the rules at the heart of different art forms, and the way we consume art. Theory aside, KYTN (its organisers gave the festival the working nickname, ‘Kitten’) promises to wield excitement, liberation and most importantly, relevance.

‘Rather than just let the audience experience the reproduction of my own sounds, I want them to experience the relations at play in the very situation that they are in’, explains Basque noise artist, improviser and all-round polemical agitator, Mattin.

‘I come from punk, so provocation for me is something positive. I want to actually do something, rather than just reproduce good taste.’ Opening the festival with a characteristically inflaming performance, Mattin (star of last month’s issue of The Wire magazine) plans to join with participants in an investigation, or ‘improvention’, into the rules that govern a traditional music performance. Mattin’s work entails a simple and startling gesture – one easily spoiled by details let slip at this stage – which will trigger a complex and probing set of reactions.

‘Some people will be pissed off’, says Mattin. ‘People will be taken by surprise because the kind of social interaction that I provoke prompts people to either police each other or encourage each other to turn the situation over’.

Similarly intrigued by the context of a performance, but perhaps soliciting a little less antagonism, Canada-based experimental sound artist Christof Migone plans to invite his participants to take part in a series of playful happenings. Known for gifting everyday gestures with a mischievous twist, Migone plans to stage Knockers, a large-scale game of ‘chap door run’ on the streets of Dundee.

‘Instead of knocking with our knuckles we are going to be using an amped-up microphone, thus really amplifying the act’, explains the artist.

Hit Parade engages in a similarly repetitive action. Migone will instruct willing participants to lie down, and smack or tap a microphone off the ground 1,000 times. ‘It doesn’t require any skill, but it does require a little leap of faith, says Migone. ‘Even though it produces a chaotic noise, the action becomes meditative. Despite the perceived simplicity of the piece, some people also found that they had a moment of epiphany, whilst occasionally others have had a vehement reaction. But nothing violent.’

Alongside performances and a specially selected film programme, featuring works that interrogate foundational tenets of the medium itself, each of the artists are involved in leading investigation groups. Designed to extend the happenings into prolonged and malleable discussions, Mattin and Migone will collaborate with other artists to explore issues raised during their performances. Working with the artists in a friendly and equal setting will provide the chance to divert, adjust or mutate the artistic processes at work. Or just sit, watch and listen, because there are no rules here.

‘We are going to explore together what we think is experimental, amazing and useful’, says Esson. ‘We don’t want the festival to be a thing in itself anymore. Ultimately, what we want is to see more people, more fully engaged, with more experimental art forms, more regularly, in more places and in more meaningful ways’.

Kill Your Timid Notion, Sun 21–Sun 28 Feb, in and around Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee.

Glasgow-based artists Stephanie Smith and Edward Stewart enjoy playing with darkness and light, safety and danger, trepidation and trust in their largely performance-based work. Their KYTN performance will be accompanied by their road movie Ahead.
Fri 26 Feb.

Morgan Fisher
The experimental filmmaker presents several short films, including one shot in Dundee, tracing the journey many viewers may well have just made on their way into the screening room.
Film screenings on Thu 25, Sat 27 and Sun 28 Feb; a chat from Fisher on Sun 28 Feb.

The Ultra-Red collective of activists and artists are old hands at organising user-friendly, yet provocative community debate. Topics cover sound art and music – is it more useful to think of music as organised sound or organised listening?
U-R’s project results will be shown in the Investigation Space, Mon 22–Sun 28 Feb.

Two artists from Dundee’s Generator gallery contemplate real time and ‘the aura of the artist’. The performance may or may not include stand-up comedy, painting, smoke and photography…
Fri 19 Feb.

For Dromos, Generator Gallery are organising a bus journey leaving ECA, Grassmarket entrance, Edinburgh at 5.30pm, returning 1am, £5.50. See for info. All events take place in and around DCA, Dundee. For more info visit

Kill Your Timid Notion Festival

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The annual experimental sound and film festival at DCA featuring screenings, performances and events from Jarrod Fowler, Christof Migone and Mattin.


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