Archives for the month of: May, 2015

IMG_2056I’ve begun preparations for Trace, 2015 – a new, part-improvised, group-vocal acoustic performance work that I’m creating within and in response to the vast, neo-classical ‘Adam Dome’ of H.M. General Register House.

The idea for the work emerges from the experimental vocal process I’ve been developing of ‘opening up’ and ‘re-articulating’ relationships with space and place in the immediate and intimate moment that each work is made. I’d been thinking about potential spaces in Edinburgh, and took the Edinburgh Art Festival’s open call for participants as an opportunity to put forward   the 250 year old dome of HM General Register House in central Edinburgh as an unusual, one-off venue. This was also the catalyst I needed to bring together a set  of vocalists with whom I could collaborate specifically to develop the work.

The place, that is both the inspiration and the location of this site-specific work, is Scotland’s purpose-built, working archive of personal history. The repository of Scotland’s registers of births, marriages and deaths. It is where the forgotten and the lost may be remembered and found – the place where hope there is some trace of ourselves – where we came from and who we might be.

This will be a 20 minute durational performance that evolves moment-by-moment through a dynamic interchange between the vocalists and the acoustic dynamics of the space, and people who are present. Importantly. there will be no special seating for the  performance. The audience will be able to move and experience the shifting quality of the sound from different positions within the room, with their movement, in turn, influencing the performance of the vocalists and the acoustics of the room.

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Listen to recording of ambient and performed sounds in a public place.

I am working with-non verbal vocalisations, involving groups of performers. Traditionally, vocal performances are recorded in environments in which the only sounds that interrupt the ‘silence’ are those designed to accompany the vocalists. By contrast, my group performs in random public environments where, by definition, we cannot exert any control over the ambient sounds. When you stop to listen, our environment is a rich array of beautiful, enigmatic and evocative noises. It is into this that we randomly perform, capturing the immediate acoustic qualities of the landscape of which we are a part.

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Listen to Translation, 2014 (shortlisted proposal).

This is a site-specific sound piece in which I use rhythmic breathing to replicate the dots and dashes of international morse code.

A single word is repeated – translation – meaning both a change of form or state and the ability to traverse languages and space. The word translation, itself translated into the dots and dashes of morse code, emerges as a rhythmic sequence of breaths, deep and slow, short and quick.

Amplified, the different breaths ebb and flow, resonating within the tower. Working together, they coalesce to form an immersive and shifting soundscape. Liberated from the body, they are free to enter their own dialogue with the physical space.

While each breath carries no visual reference to its source, within the tower the entire visual field, with its vertical expanse of poured concrete and shaft of light from the vent high above, is rich in the symbolism of modernity and traditional industry. This space alludes to the chimneys of power and production, to pistons and locomotion and to the percussive sounds of gases pumping and steam venting – to the inhalations and exhalations of industry.

In establishing a dialogue with the physicality of the new building for which it is proposed, this sound piece engages with the ideas inherent in its original concept and design. With the breath, it recognises the role of effort in all human ingenuity and creativity, and power of connectivity and communication.