Jem Finer in transmediale 10
|Birth name||Jem Finer|
July 20, 1955 |
|Genres||Folk rock, folk punk, Celtic rock, Celtic punk|
|Instruments||Banjo, mandola, guitar, saxophone, hurdy-gurdy|
|Associated acts||The Pogues|
Life and career
Finer was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England. He took a joint degree in computing and sociology at Keele University. After college he traveled Europe and spent some time working on a barge in France. He settled in London, where he met Shane MacGowan and Spider Stacy, with whom he founded The Pogues. He has worked in a variety of fields, including photography, film, experimental and popular music and installation.
Primarily a banjoist, he also plays other instruments, including mandola, saxophone, hurdy-gurdy and the guitar. Apart from Shane MacGowan (with whom he co-wrote several songs, including "Fairytale of New York"), Finer was the most prolific composer for the band.
He appeared on all the band's albums until their breakup in 1996; he was one of only three original members. During that time he also appeared on MacGowan's solo album The Snake and The Levellers' self-titled release; he continued working as a musician and composer after leaving The Pogues.
On 1 January 2000, the Finer-composed Longplayer piece of music was started; this is designed to last 1000 years without ever repeating itself, and as currently implemented exists in both computer-generated and live versions. Longplayer represents a convergence of many of his concerns, particularly those relating to systems, long-durational processes and extremes of scale in both time and space.
Finer was "Artist in Residence" at the Astrophysics Sub-department of the University of Oxford between October 2003 and June 2005, making a number of works including two sculptural observatories, Landscope and The Centre of the Universe. Finer and Hamburg-based swamp pop legend DM Bob have recorded and performed together since 2005, releasing their album Bum Steer in August of that year and co-producing the debut album by experimental pop band Marseille Figs. He has written articles on copyright and the Creative Commons License. In July 2005, Finer won the PRS Foundation New Music Award  on the basis of his proposal to build a device that will automatically "compose" a song of indeterminate length by harnessing the creative force of the weather. His proposal read:
- The countryside is shot through with holes in the ground; wells, mine shafts, fissures, bunkers, ventilation holes. In this piece of music the venue is a deep shaft in which there will be placed, at different heights, bowls of different sizes and tunings pivoted about their centre of gravity, the instruments. The players, the drips of water, will strike the bowls, ringing them like bells. As they fill with water their timbres will change, and the delicate equilibrium of their pivots will cause them to sway slightly, modulating the tones. Overflowing, a bowl will drip into ones below it.
- Amplification will be facilitated by a tube rising up from within the shaft, into a brass horn twenty feet above the surface. Akin to the bamboo tube in the suikinkutsu, the horn not only amplifies the sounds but forms a sculptural object, a focus in the landscape. The work was constructed and installed in King's Wood near Challock, Kent over the summer of 2006.
In March 2012 Mobile Sinfonia, a global composition for ringtones was launched, developed during a year spent as a non-resident artist at the University of Bath. This piece concerns mutual invasion of soundscape via ringtones.
He is currently working on a number of new projects continuing his interest in long-term sustainability and the reconfiguring of older technologies, including Spiegelei, a spherical camera obscura featuring Finer's innovative 360 degree projection system and the upcoming Supercomputer in Cambridge, a 5 bit mechanical sculpture which will compute minimal musical scores.
Visionary Seascapes, a new LP made with Andrew Kötting, based on Finer's soundtrack for Kötting's film Swandown, will be released in the summer of 2013.
- "The Pogues" @Allmusic.com Retrieved on 2006-08-14
- "LongPlayer". Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- Finer, Jem (2004-07-14). "Download revolution". Guardian. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- "Jem Finer wins the New Music Award". PRS Foundation. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- scoreforaholeintheground website. Retrieved September 22, 2006.
- Yorkshire Sculpture Park press release
- Commission East press release