Photo: Bryony McIntyre

Benedict Drew, Chris Weaver, John Bain, John Butcher, Lee Patterson, Mark Bain, Michael Colligan, Rhodri Davies, Robin Hayward & Sarah Washington

Self Cancellation - Palimpsest #1

A performance of a Sudoko based graphic score giving rise to a process of self cancellation by an ensemble of nine players.

Can sound auto-destruct, can it cancel itself out in the process of it’s own creation? Society tends to cancel itself out: every new invention creates a new accident waiting to happen (e.g. before trains, derailment never existed).  Gustav Metzger was the first artist in the UK to really address this tendency via his Manifestos for Auto-Destructive Art in the late 50’s & early 60’s.

Thanks to Danny Carr for animating the suduko score.

We’ve asked Rhodri Davies, inspired by and in collaboration with Gustav, to bring together a collection of musicians to look at ways in which music and sound can cancel itself out, can auto-destruct during performance. Maybe you think that sounds kinds dry, or theoretical, but it’s both real pertinent in today’s political climate and also a way of thinking about sound that could lead to some pretty spectacular performances. E.g: Mark & John Bain using oscillators to shake The Arches, seismographs to pick up the harmonics and a massive sub-bass PA to play that back to live, Michael Colligan pressing white hot metal into dry ice, causing the metal to sing and scream, Robin Hayward’s sand filled tuba solo.


The Self Cancellation project is co-produced with the London Musicians’ Collective.

  • Audio

  • Extract

    Self Cancellation Intro - Rhodri Davies & Barry Esson

    Self-cancellation in sound involves physical manipulation. There are times where the artist is in firm control of the character and timing of the cancellation process; there are other times where the process controls the artist. 

    Credits / license
    • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0