The third collaboration between John Wedgwood Clarke and I this year saw us developing a new travelling exhibition by primary school pupils in Hull and our sister city Freetown in Sierra Leone. 2778 Nautical Miles is named after the distance between Hull and Freetown and is a call-and-response piece including poetry, recorded sound and photography created in both cities. Drawing on the tradition of the call-and-response-song, UK and Sierra Leonean pupils’ creative writing and sound recordings – which were made on location in their homes, markets, ports and at their respective cities’ monuments to slavery and to freedom – question and answer each other.
We ran a number of field recording and creative writing workshops with the school pupils, and worked with them to develop the installation which is made from their field recordings and writings. In John’s words “We wanted the children to listen to the city, we looked for things we might have in common with Freetown, the port, markets and monuments, and explore the differences and similarities through poetry, interviews sound-recordings, editing and curating.”
The project was devised and curated by Sea Swim in partnership with Global Learning Hull, the International Pupil Council and our No Limits learning programme.
Verity Sharp featured my piece ‘Equanimity’ for clarinet + computer on Late Junction last night. It features a field recording made in Mallorca with the sounds of cicadas and waves on the shoreline. I’ve tried to blend the sounds of the clarinet and the field recording, with the clarinettist mimicking the geophony (waves and wind), and biophony (cicadas and other insects). The sounds of the instrument and field recording are merged further using live electronic processing.
I recorded the piece in 2009 with clarinettist F. Gerard Errante in Las Vegas. It was released in 2010 on Aucourant Records as part of Gerry Errante’s ‘Delicate Balance‘ CD.
Tonight we opened ‘Offshore: Artists Explore the Sea‘ a major 6 month exhibition featuring 10 new commissions and other works from a range of international artists, including Tacita Dean and author China Miéville. The exhibition, curated by Invisible Dust, examines the many contrasting ways that the sea has shaped our culture, our imaginations and our physical existence through mythical sea monsters, superstition and seaside traditions as well as trade and travel. While inherently without borders, we have mapped the sea for exploitation, geo-political advantage and for conservation.
John Wedgwood Clarke and I installed our soundscape and poetry installation ‘Above 8’ as part of the exhibition. The piece explores the effect of increasing ocean acidification on the ability of different marine organisms to communicate, including the Harbour Ragworm which communicates through chemical exchange. If the pH falls to below 7.7, then the worms wouldn’t be able to breed, and the estuarine mud which their mucus-lined burrows hold together would be washed away, and a whole ecosystem with it.
: artists explore the sea' an introduction</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user54715069″>Invisible
Dust</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>
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.
I’ve spent a few days this month exploring the Humber estuary with poet and collaborator John Wedgwood Clarke for a new commission from Invisible Dust called ‘Offshore: Artists Explore the Sea’. We’ll be combining 3D ambisonic field recordings with photographs, charts, maps, video and text for the installation which will be showing in Hull’s Maritime Museum from 31st March – 28th August 2017 as part of Hull’s amazing City of Culture year.
It’s been fascinating and inspiring to explore this liminal zone between land and sea. Here’s a few visual impressions from Spurn Point, Fort Paull and the ABP ro-ro ferry terminal.
The call for Sound + Environment 2017 is now open! Deadline for submissions is 30th January 2017.
We are seeking proposals for papers, workshops, compositions, installations and interventions at ‘Sound + Environment 2017’ (University of Hull, 29th June – 2nd July 2017).
‘Sound + Environment 2017’ is a four day conference bringing together artists and scientists to explore the ways in which sound can deepen our understanding of environments. Confirmed keynotes so far are BAFTA award-winning sound artist and field recordist Chris Watson, and Australian sound artist Leah Barclay. The conference will see the launch of a specially commissioned surround-sound installation from Chris Watson tracing the course of the Humber River from ‘Trent Falls to Spurn Point’. A number of other sound installations and performances will be featured in collaboration with Hull UK City of Culture and the PRS New Music Biennial.
Through exploring scientific and artistic approaches together, we hope to engage with sound in order to create complementary ways of investigating, understanding, and taking action.
Please see: soundenvironment.net for further information.
I had the pleasure of presenting a solo concert of my pieces spanning nearly 20 years in the amazing Dome Room in the Bramall Building of the University of Birmingham.
I then presented a talk called ‘Composing Place’, based on my approach to the use of found sounds in composition, with particular reference to place.
Thanks to Scott Wilson for the invite, and Annie Mahtani for organising everything, and for taking the time to show me round the new studios. It was a real hive of activity!
Resounding Mulgrave – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOEJmHDdv2E
Voicewind – https://soundcloud.com/robflute/voicewind
South Bay – https://soundcloud.com/robflute/south-bay-28th-july-2012
Environs – https://soundcloud.com/robflute/environs
Joyce’s Vision – https://soundcloud.com/robflute/joyces-vision
Living Waves – https://soundcloud.com/robflute/living-waves