The Covid-19 pandemic of early 2020 has had a huge and wide-reaching effect. My group made up of four composer-performers called Bastard Assignments was not exempt. We were pulled to continue to make work, the difference now is that we are online at our individual homes and meeting each other on Zoom. Zoom is a company that has been around since 2011 and a lot of us have recently become familiar with it to celebrate birthdays at a distance, catch up with friends, or conduct our business. It was set up by a Chinese computer scientist who only after the ninth attempt at the application secured his visa to live in the USA. Since the beginning of 2020, the worldwide usage of Zoom has risen 67%, its use diversifying from corporate communications to domestic and arts activities. My compositional and performance work with Bastard Assignments is rooted in collaboration, devising, and group creation. It favours memorisation over the use of musical scores, emotional presence over reproducibility. As we take our work together into a purely online workspace, important questions arise. Through a new way of working online, does our adaptability bring about a new form? How will we understand this online work when and if normalcy returns? Skills that we learn as composer-performers are dropped, remade, and tested during this period, how will our practice have changed?
Josh Spear is a British composer-performer and Artistic Research Fellow at the Norwegian Academy of Music. He is proud to be a member of the experimental composer-performer group Bastard Assignments, a group that explores performativity, movement and live art. He works collaboratively with them and together they have developed a shared creative practice. Currently he is reflecting on his work and process through the lens of intimacy as well as his relation to the field. In 2021 he is making an EP with his brothers and producing a four-part webseries with John Moran and Everyone Company. Josh has articles published in the Journal of Music, Health, and Well-being and in Beyond Style and Genre. Aesthetic Concepts in Popular Culture at Zentrum für Populäre Kultur und Musik.