John Wedgwood Clarke and I were commissioned to create a new sound work by Invisible Dust, for an event called The Ocean Connects Us run by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation at Trinity Buoy Wharfe in London. The aim of the event was to explore ways of communicating the value of the ocean effectively, sharing what’s working well and potentially seeding new ideas and collaborations. It brought together NGOs, scientists, artists, and policy-makers on the 1st March 2017.
Our piece, Voice Over Water (VOW) is a poetry soundscape in three sections that explores parallels between human and marine-biological communication systems in the context of the River Thames at Trinity Buoy Wharf. If, through ocean acidification, the pH of the sea falls, as predicted, to 7.7 by 2100, then many aquatic organisms dependent on chemical communication will be effectively rendered blind. This is the central idea that Voices Over Water explores and seeks to communicate to a wider audience through a range of metaphors and procedures.
We chose three different locations: The East India Dock, a pontoon opposite the Trinity Buoy Wharfe Lighthouse, and Hungerford Bridge, placing the poet’s voice over the water at each location. We recorded both below and above the river’s surface, and captured many sounds, including a segment of Jem Finer’s 1,000 year composition Longplayer.
Rob Mackay is a composer, sound artist and performer. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Hull.
Recent projects have moved towards a cross-disciplinary approach, including geology, soundscape ecology, theatre, audiovisual installation work, and human-computer interaction. His work has been performed in 18 countries (including several performances on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 1 and Radio France), and a number of his pieces have received international awards (Bourges (1997 and 2001), EAR (1999), La Muse en Circuit (2007)). He has held composer residencies at Slovak Radio (Bratislava), La Muse en Circuit (Paris), the Tyrone Guthrie Arts Centre (Ireland), Habitación del Ruido (Mexico City), and CMMAS (Morelia).
He has collaborated with a number of poets, including Martin Daws (Young People’s Poet Laureate for Wales, 2013 – 2015) and John Wedgwood Clarke (for the Arts Council funded Dictionary of Stone and Sea Swim with Lara Goodband). This was a natural progression from working on a number of projects based on the theme of geology, including a collaboration with percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie on the Natural England funded Ruskin Rocks project, led by a team of scientists and musicians at the University of Leeds who created two stone instruments (lithophones). He has also created a Jurassic soundscape for Scarborough’s Rotunda museum which is currently installed.
Rob has been a reviewer for numerous international conferences, including ICMC (International Computer Music Conference), NIME (New Instruments for Musical Expression), DHRN (Digital Humanities Research Network), and journals (Organised Sound, Cambridge University Press) and is editor for Interference, a Journal of Audio Cultures.
He has played, written and produced in a number of bands including the Welsh Hip-Hop collective Tystion with whom he collaborated alongside John Cale on the film A Beautiful Mistake (Film 4), as well as recording two John Peel sessions on BBC Radio 1 and supporting PJ Harvey. The band have a chapter devoted to them in Sarah Hill’s book ‘Blerwytirhwng?’ The Place of Welsh Pop Music (Ashgate 2007).
Rob has done session work for Super Furry Animals producer Gorwel Owen, songwriter Euros Childs, and Hip-Hop producer Kista. He is currently enjoying playing in the Welsh Afro-tropical collective Drymbago, having supported Quantic and Tony Allen.
More information and pieces at: www.soundcloud.com/robflute
University of Hull Profile Page
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