Lab Five

September-October 2007 : Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City.

This Lab enabled the building of a Sonic Bench in concrete and woven webbing. This is our first bench, we hadn’t built in concrete before and Mexico City is a long way, where it was revealed that online planning can be more than inadequate.

Lab Five therefore was not a compositional residency in a known field, but a realisation of a precise plan by many people, each responsible for often alien applications of unfamiliar components, and each needing to co-ordinate within a tight schedule, working in both English and Spanish. However, what a great Team grew.

The Bench design was developed in London through Kaffe working in consultation with Grant Reid who realised plans to build it. As with the design of the Sonic Bed, it’s essential to house the desired sound system within adequate air space for optimum functioning, but still be as close to the comfortably sitting body as possible.

Final plans realised were then sent to the Im_Polis curators who organised the Team of Makers headed by architect Fernando Flores and Alameda’s technical staff Nancy Durán and Tania Rodriguez.

Kaffe arrived two weeks before the opening to find the concrete body of the Bench built and with the task to go and choose colours from the array of locally sold plastic and vinyl stripping to make its mesh seat.

A weaver also had to be found as the chosen plastic was too stiff for an amateur to manage.

At the same time, the audio system had to be finalised and installed as well as adequate power supply housed in the gallery cabling the electricity outside to the Bench. Unfortunately the model of woofer speakers around which the Bench design had been made were not available resulting in much last minute reshaping of the built Bench, leaving only 48 hours for Kaffe to make the first Bench Composition. Fortunately she had spent two weeks sitting on woofers with a laptop in Essex beforehand so was well prepared, and the resulting piece is still playing today.