hȳran for solo viola [2013]

Marc Yeats - Composer

hȳran for solo viola [2013]

This 2020 performance of hȳran, given by the dedicatee, Stephen Upshaw is kindly provided by James Layton and the ‘Into the Oceans’ Project.

hȳran [premiere: Stephen Upshaw 26th March at Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London]
dedicated to Stephen Upshaw | Duration: circa 5 minutes.

From 6 March to 28 April 2013, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art presents a solo exhibition featuring the work of Iranian artist Navid Nuur. The exhibition shows a range of his continuously developing oeuvre that examines the phenomenological experience of his sculptural installation works and the transformative properties he gives to everyday materials.

Violist Stephen Upshaw approached a number of composers to explore writing a collection of short pieces for solo viola each in response to a specific work in Nuur’s show at the Parasol Unit. hȳran is a response to Nuur’s Interimodule ‘there’.

Navid Nuur_Board Pack (3)

hȳran, from Old English hȳran (“to hear”) is a play on words mirroring the opposite of the ‘interimodules’ title ‘there’ [a distant, other place] to ‘here’ [a close, personal or internal place]. Further changing the word ‘here’ to hȳran (“to hear”) amplifies the obvious auditory nature of this new work.

Whilst sculptural in form, Nuur does not consider his work as sculptures or installations, deeming these too immobile and rigid to form the desired spatial and temporal link with the environment and the viewer. Rather, he frequently uses the term ‘interimodules’; composed of the words ‘interim’ and ‘module’, it refers to his conceptual workflow and to the interim times associated with the procedural character of his work. It invites the viewer to consider his artistic thought. Works are described as site-specific when created in, or made for, a specific place. Yet for Nuur, his works are site-specific based on his own personal inner space, with the outer world offering possibilities that strengthen this. As Nuur says ‘within me, there are works that can be strengthened or sharpened by a specific location, a place outside of me… I, as an artist, see myself as the middleman responsible for supporting this link as best as possible’.

These descriptions relate to the site-specific performance of hȳran, too. Change the performance site, remove the ‘interimodule’, the gallery setting, and you have the music alone with a different performance context where the outer world offers new possibilities and associations to strengthen the work. Unlike the immobile and rigid form of sculpture and installation referred to by Nuur, music can bring about a more flexible spatial and temporal link with the environment and the viewer. This flexibility is reflected in the change of title from ‘there’ to ‘here’ [hȳran]. Of course, all experience is perceived in what Nuur refers to as ‘his [our] own personal inner space’, the most site-specific location of all.

There is no programme for the composition of hȳran. The music is an independent entity and can be performed without reference to Nuur’s work.