With the sound of Pulsars on several hand held speakers, two performers inadvertently walked in to the crypt of St John’s Church, infiltrating a famous artwork….
Accidental infiltration into – Line Describing A Cone by Anthony McCall
Our peripatetic journey through St John’s Church, in the vaults and outside the gates into the traffic filled streets, on their Video Club Night maybe added to and created some ‘chaos’ to the event Beyond Chaos! Waterloo, London.
BEEF – Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film – contributed several works to an evening of works. http://www.beefbristol.org/
As a member of BEEF I was part of this cohort of artists, and brought a version of Pulsars where I experimented with using the Pulsar star sounds on 4 speakers held by two people. The speaker holding performers made there way round the visiting different spaces.
Speakers and Mp3s
Listening to extremely far off sourced sounds has kept me engaged over the last few months. Radio waves from Jodrel Bank (UK) and the Parks radio telescope (Australia) have prompted me to think of the un-imaginable distances these sounds travel to our ears. For instance…
Crab Pulsar B0531+21 – 6,500 light-years from Earth
Vela Pulsar PSR B0833-45 – 1,000 light-years from Earth
PRS B0329-45 – approximately 3,500 light-years from outside our Galaxy
Our closest star, the Sun – 8.2 light-minutes from Earth
Pulsars was performed in the Holywell Music Room at the Audiograft 17 Festival in Oxford. http://www.audiograft.co.uk/programme/thursday/
Holywell Music Room Floor Plan
Twelve performers holding small battery operated speakers were dispersed all around the auditorium, the multiple sound sources being amongst the audience. The performers were seated at first, but moved about in some sections of the piece, accentuating the spatial element of the work.
During the 20minute piece each speaker played had it’s own dedicated track of sound, like an orchestral part. The sounds emanated from the performers MP3 player, attached to the speaker.
Each star had a section of the piece where variations of mainly the same star could be heard. Different rhythmic pulses heard in the work corresponded to the rotations of different Pulsars. In the last section of the piece all the performers gathering together and walked out en masse, through the front door into the street
Better with headphones
A commissioned work for Audiograft 2017
photo Richie Smith – Sky
This is an excerpt – at the moment a thumbnail sketch- from a commissioned piece for Audiograft 2017 and currently a work in progress. This sound work will be a performance of recorded sound heard via multiple hand held speakers in amongst an audience. It will focus on sound from pulsars found in and outside our galaxy. Different rhythmic pulses heard in the work will correspond to the rotations of different pulsars. Jodrel Bank research describes a pulsar as,
‘ …a highly magnetized neutron star, with a radius of 10-15 km. Radiation is beamed out along the magnetic poles and pulses of radiation are received as the beam crosses the Earth.’
The distance between the listener and the original source creating the energy we eventually hear is extreme. Although the amount of light years varies for each different pulsar heard in the work, in the course of attempting to think about these distances our imagined landscape is extended, via the sound.
One of the pulsars heard in the work will be the Vela Pulsar.
‘Vela Pulsar -supernova remnant PSR B0833-45 is the debris of the explosion of a massive star about 10,000 years old.’
This piece progresses the work I have done in the practical research for my PhD where I sonified live streamed alpha muons (cosmic rays) to an attic in Bristol. (You Are Here – 2013 http://vimeo.com/111437221). The energy source of the alpha muons was estimated to be from the galaxy Centaurus A or NGC – 5182 and situated 11 million light years from earth.
photo Deborah Weinreb – Primal Performance
Here below is an excerpt from the sound track that accompanies Primal (2016) a short film by Vicky Smith. The film is distributed by CMIR and has also been performed with live sound track at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2016 and Visions in the Nunnery Festival at Bow Arts London 2016 amongst others.
As an immersive photochemical and sonic experimental performance, the sounds from the cello played with different materials, i.e. paper plastic and tin, go hand in hand with the analogue nature of the filmmaker’s process – physically marking the 16mm film stock.
Also in the audio track are pre recorded subterranean sounds played from a laptop. The sounds, recorded with a basic pick up and metal sheeting clamped to bedrock, are in synthesis with the visual elemental energies and ‘primal’ intentions of the film.
This excerpt is from the end of the film PLAY IT LOUD!
photo Tanya Moulson – Ear Extensions
Sonic Hide and Seek features active listening where the participants’ aural landscape is extended. Ear extensions or low-tech listening devices are individually constructed by the participants. These amplifying devices increase the capacity of the listeners’ ears to listen overhead, into and above trees, and also into small hidden crevices, down holes and along tracks. In the city similarly, listening above the rooftops and down alleyways – Breaking The Rules 2016 BEEF Summer School.
photo Tanya Moulson – Nonhearing or Nonseeing
Part of the activities include a collaborative tracking game which involves two people, one non-seeing listener and one non-hearing guide, helping each other to follow a sound. When one sense (either hearing or seeing) is impaired, the other senses then became more focused creating an alternative sensory experience.
photo Tanya Moulson – Listening Up
Manipulating the imagined geographic journeying of sound to our ears causes us to think, not only about the space around us but our habits of hearing and our ability to listen.
Sonic Hide and Seek has visited:
Sound Territories – Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts – Northants
Fir Tree School – Wallingford, Oxfordshire
South Wales University – Cardiff
Breaking the Rules – BEEF Summer School – Bristol
photo Tanya Moulson Listening Horns
BEEF Members Show 2016
photo Nathaniel White – Square Ringers
Sounding the Square
Round the Square was a site-specific sound performance outside in a square, where the surfaces of the pavement, path and road were ‘sounded out’ or ‘played’ by metal rims of different sizes being bowled along over them. A cohort of runners and walkers set off at a given time, to bowl along the rings and anyone could join in (40 rings were available.)
The texture of the surfaces, the size and type of the metal and the resonance of the space, along with the number and speed of the metal rings, created the sound. The sight of sound being made so simply, contrasted with the complex sound it created. Players stopped and started, went faster or slower when they pleased, and handed over their hoop when they had finished. The fact that it was dark gave an atmosphere to the proceedings. There was a transfer of the collaborative energy of the players to the sound.
The sound rang out amplified by the physical dimensions of the square itself, and continually changed according to one’s position in the square. While the sound and sound makers travelled, the square was used as a musical instrument.
The work pays homage to the centuries of boots, hooves and wheels that have sounded out and rounded the square.
photo Nathaniel White – Bowling Along
Below the Stage
I went to record sound from under the floor at the Bristol Old Vic main stage. The final 4min edit was played on the anniversary of their 250th birthday. The curtains went up, audience viewed an empty lit stage and heard the sound track I had pre recorded entirely from under the stage. The sounds were from their most recent show, but this audience was required – invited to create a show from their own imaginations.
Stage and Auditorium
The stage was hardboard, chipboard and floorboards over my head. I had borrowed a Maranz PMD620MKll sound recorder plus a rifle mic, 2 hydrophones (working as pickup mics placed flat to the wall joists) and my own Edirol R 09.
The sounds from the floor above were clear and audible also through the structural joists. As well as directly overhead there were sounds from backstage including tannoy calls and actors and props getting on stage via the trap door beside me (including buckets of water.)
Best with headphones
Recordings from Below Stage
The opportunity to record under the stage for the birthday arose when I approached them to record under the stage for my own research. I had become interested in the idea of recording under floors – looking up at the ceiling below to listen. So to start I went to record under stage floors. The Theatre Royal Bath, the Cube Cinema Bristol (with stage) and the Bristol Old Vic each held different ‘flavours’ and ‘atmospheres’.
I took note of the dragging rolling and dropping of objects, the walking, stepping, running, shouting and mumbling heard from underneath. The different floor materials gave up (down) varied sound qualities. I found that listening like this, at once ‘removed’ by the materials of the ceiling and building, but also physically connected to them, created a strange feeling of ‘displacement’. A feeling I’d like to find out more about.
Best with headphones
Under Theatre Royal
Under Cube Cinema
Old Vic Through The Joists
I wrote down
Beyond our sight – in another place we’re called upon to imagine -– not quite known – wood and dust – musty – underground – beyond our experience – beyond borders – cement – hidden – identity – muffled – close – aware of breathing – space – air space – shout – listen
This geophone ( a spiked microphone SM24) was picking up vibrations from under Portland Square.
Portland Square subterranean vibrations (listen with headphones)
The louder sounds heard are those of feet walking near the geophone. The softer sound is the ‘growl’ of the city and vibrations (audible and inaudible) from kilometres away in all directions.
Here in the new buildings of BEEF (Bristol Experimental Expanded Film) and on the day of the Launch of this new venture, several artists showed evidence of some of their experimental processes. Being new to Portland Square I read Bette. R. Burke’s book of the square’s long history and her recollections of living in this very building for over 40 years – Cinderella Square: A History of Portland Square. Listening under ground was my own initial exploration of the place.
The visitors to the Launch came through the front door and climbed the stairs to the second floor. The geophone cable however went up the front of the building and through a 2nd floor window.
Taking the vibrations live into the building via the cable could bring the experience of outside (and underneath the ground outside) to the inside of the building. Vibrations were being picked up from directly under the square and from down underneath the city, amplified with a preamp close to the geophone, run up the wall into the building (2nd floor window) along the corridor, into one of our new studio spaces, into an amp and subsequently into a couple of transducers placed on a table and chair.
The visitors were invited to come in and sit at the table experiencing the vibrations from the transducers, through the seat of the chair and the surface of the table.
They jumped when the transducer on the table rattled loudly, especially when someone walked along the pavement close to the geophone.
The power of the 3000W amp (Buttkicker) and transducers designed for extreme effect (Buttkicker) created some loud thumps along with the burr of the rattling lower frequencies. It was fed back to me that these oddly spaced and random occurrences seemed,
“… like the messages received in a séance.”
After having read so recently the book about Portland Square’s history, I couldn’t help thinking of the vibrations made by countless feet and indeed hooves over the centuries, impacting on the paving stones, cobbles and tracks around the square. Those times, though easy to imagine amongst the Georgian buildings of the square, seemed as transient and changeable as the nearby and new re generation (Cabots Circus!) of the city.
On the day of BEEF’s Launch, mixed with the experiences of the subterranean vibrations of the current activity of the city, the experience of the underlying vibrations of the deeper ground and strata, continued beneath as it has done for millions of years. The time frame I had been considering of a few hundred years, from the building of Portland Square to the present, was a mere instant in comparison.