A sound installation coming up – ‘One Day in June’

I have a three-day installation coming up – titled ‘One Day in June’, it is a 60 minute, two-channel sound work that is based on work in Iceland.

WHEN: Wednesday February 12th from 10:00 – 13:00; Thursday February 13th from 10:00 – 16:00; Friday February 14th from 10:00 – 13:00

WHERE: It is running in the XL Gallery in the Fine Art Department at Newcastle University (directions below).

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One Day in June: 24 hours in eight movements

eight sequential sections from the

eight successive recordings of a replicated walk

walked every three hours

across a June Icelandic fell

This work presents time, distance and place presented here as: sequential sections from the eight recordings of a replicated walk across an Icelandic fell-side; spoken and written haibun; and a line poem.

The sound recordings step a listener forward, through time and across distance, across a landscape, as I walk the eight times back and forth across an Icelandic fellside. Through the speakers you listen into one walk after another – to a time – one day in June – to a place – a remote Iceland fellside – to the passing of time – the (60 minutes) of the recordings, the hours between walks, my walking for 8 hours, my walking across 24 hours … and to distances – the two miles of a single walk, my overall walking for 16 miles, and the distance from here to the fellside.

The line poem offers letters, words shorn of almost all literary structure or space – words and phrases emerge … and dissolve, thoughts shift as you make and unmake meaning – but it is also be walked along, stepped around … it is not possible to engage with it without moving. As you move along the poems – you move feet in the gallery and miles in Iceland – bring your experiences, your memories                     of movement                  of time    of things that you hear.

All of this is what you are listening to … what you hear is created by you …

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To get to the XL Gallery – Coming from the Haymarket, pass Kings Gate and go up the steps; pass the Union Building/Northern Stage; go through the Arches into the Quadrangle; the Fine Art Department is up the stone steps immediately on your right. Go up the steps, through the grey double doors and you are in the foyer area – turn right and you will be facing the art shop – and the XL Gallery is on the left beyond the shop.

radioCona: Storyscapes SE – an FM sound art exhibition, live from Ljubljana, Slovenia

The latest manifestation of my sound work “No. 2: ‘no trace’” is playing (as a stereo mix) on radioCona: Storyscapes SE – an FM sound art exhibition, live from Ljubljana, Slovenia, running from 18th to 23rd Jan 2020 from 6.33PM. “No. 2: ‘no trace’” is scheduled to be broadcast at 19:45 tomorrow, Tuesday Jan 21st.

If you’re in Slovenia you can access 88.8 FM. For those of you who aren’t, there is a live stream which can be accessed through this web page:

http://www.radiocona.si/blog/2019/12/18/radiocona-krajine-pripovedi-jv/

or http://tmp.si:8000/radiocona.ogg

You have to access the links using as your browser CHROME, FIREFOX or OPERA – It works fine on a computer/laptop but mobile device access seems more difficult.

So, this is possibly for the more tech savvy and determined amongst you, but hey, no-one ever said art was easy … apart from Giuseppe Chiari … and then David Attwood … but, I think you get my point!

If you make it there are lots of other great soundworks.

Enjoy

four rants for the summer solstice (after John Cage, 1977)

To celebrate the winter solstice I will be playing a four hour, four-channel, sound piece in The Arches on the campus of Newcastle University. It will play continuously from 09:00 on Saturday 21st December until 09:00 on Monday 23rd December.
In 1977 John Cage delivered “49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs” as his contribution to “Waltzes by 25 Contemporary Composers”. Cage’s score was a listing of 147 New York City street locations, selected and aggregated by the play of chance into 49 groups of three (reflecting the waltz’s 3/4 time signature). Cage’s view was that what could be seen and heard at these chance locations, the apparently humdrum, the everyday, was as interesting and as worthy of attention, as any formal musical composition.
Taking inspiration from Cage’s methods I applied it to a sonic exploration of place, time, distance and movement on an imaginary island (3 miles by 2 miles) in the foothills of the Cheviots.  As a musical motif I took a traditional Northumberland folk tune, the rant, and its 4/4 time signature.
I randomly identified and arranged 16 locations on the island into four sets of four locations – each set of four comprised one rant. Walking on the summer solstice, I recorded my movement between the locations and at each I recorded the sounds of the place for a randomly determined time of up to 4 minutes. A walk and a place make a step; a rant is four steps; steps are of differing distances and durations.
The rants play from the four speakers, in the sequence they were walked; the four rants last for four hours. There are silences.
Each place has its own sounds – sound that occur and recur as I tread the fields, paths and roads of the island – birdsong, sheep, gates; there are machines and dogs – yet few people … Whilst these places are tangible they are both real – there is obvious and real walking occurring – and also unreal – they are defined by their locations on an imagined island.
Dimensions of time play through the work. The 4/4 musical time signature of the rant offers a tempo which can be played into the rhythm of my footfall. But time is not always what it seems … there is time within each rant – time at the places themselves and the time of walking from place to place – but this is time condensed as you hear four steps together from the four speakers – you listen across time within one rant.  Over four rants you are listening to the changing time of a day – my walks took12 hours.; you hear early morning, midday and evening. And there is a slower, longer, time – the time of the year – as you listen to this on a winter solstice yet I walked on a summer solstice – you are listening back across time, across seasons.
I am walking in summer and, here and now, in wintertime Newcastle, you are far  removed from where I am walking. You are moving through The Arches; I am moving from place to place in the steady criss-crossing of my island as I go from place to place, rant to rant. Individual steps vary from a few hundred yards to a few miles but, taken together, as you move the 10 yards through The Arches, you listening across 24 miles.
Listen … listen to the rants … listen to the memories of your own walks, your own experiences, your own seasons … hear something unique.

Listening and walking in Ljubljana: Št 2: “brez sledi”

An invitation to exhibit at Steklenik (http://www.steklenik.si/en/home/) resulted in a mid-November trip to Ljubljana. Steklenik, a partnership project of the Cona Institute (run by Brane Zorman and Irena Pivka; http://www.cona.si) and the University Botanic Gardens Ljubljana, is a sound gallery space, a greenhouse with an integrated 8-channel sound system.

I had been invited to install my 8-channel work No.2: “no trace”

which, in summary, presents two walks, each one upstream and downstream, along a common route, in a river; the two walks were made on the winter solstice and the spring equinox. I had been working towards preparing this for a few weeks in advance of travelling. The set up in the gallery is of four speakers along each side wall fixed to the metal ribs of the building and sitting above a waist high, one metre deep shelf that runs the length of each long side; there is a low island flower bed centrally placed on the floor and slightly closer to one end of the gallery; all surfaces are covered in plants, mainly cacti.

Whilst there were technical reasons (manageable but clunky) and practical reasons (the centre of the room was not accessible) why I wasn’t going to repeat the Cheeseburn Grange installation of an ambisonic diffusion, my overall reason was aesthetic. I wanted to produce more of a focus on the speakers, their individual outputs and the physical and conceptual distances between them.

I ended up with a composition that had a number of features:

  • the direction of flow of the river was from the entrance to the gallery towards the external doors
  • the quadrophonic winter recordings were placed in the four distant speakers
  • the quadrophonic spring recordings were placed in the four near speakers
  • bank walk and narrated river walk recordings were placed centrally
  • hydrophone recordings were placed at either end

Having adjusted the gain – a general increase of about 5dB in response to a larger space than I had been editing the composition in and a setting that meant that whilst you could hear the work as an overall composition, you would hear more detail if you more closely approached individual speakers – the work offered ideas on walking, time and distance. The impact on my walking was described in the original exhibition catalogue essay (https://martinpeccles.com/sound-works/trace-no-trace/). In terms of time and distance then a listener could listen to and move between winter and spring as they walked between the two ends of the gallery, they could listen to the turn of the year, the change of the seasons. They could hear my progress along the river and match this to their own movement around the gallery, listening to my walking a mile as they walked the floor of the gallery. However, importantly, there was no single ‘sweet spot’ within the gallery where the work could be experienced; it was designed to be experienced by moving, by walking, by replicating my actions in creating it. Thus, each listener, with their own movement and listening, co-creates their own unique experience.

The composition opening was at midday on Saturday 16th November and I did a live performance at 19:00 on Tuesday 19th November …

I had a great time in Ljubljana – walking, recording, installing and performing – many thanks to Brane and Irena who were wonderful hosts.

A Walk with Horns: “playing” the St John’s Harbour Symphony

The St John’s Harbour Symphony (http://www.soundsymposium.com/about/harbour-symphony/) (played on 1st July this year (2019)) is a striking sonic event. A composition for ship’s horns it takes place in, and resonates around, the natural amphitheatre of St John’s Harbour, Newfoundland. In a response to the live performance I walked a route in the immediate harbour area.
As well as the pair of microphones that travelled with me on my walk, a third microphone remained on the quayside (for which my grateful thanks to Jeremy Grimshaw). Heard from the quayside, the natural bowl of the harbour produces the obvious echo of the cannon shot that are giving percussive punctuation to the horns’ drones. Although initially synchronous, as I walk away from the quayside the ‘distance between the recordings’ increases, the architecture changes, and the sounds of the symphony become more complex – less apparent in the horns, the cannon shots eventually separate into complex quadruple sounds. A Walk with Horns “plays the symphony” making audible the shifting sounds of walked streets, people, traffic and the echoing buildings of downtown St John’s.

https://martinpeccles.com/sound-works/a-walk-with-horns/

“Beàrnaraigh” – a 24h art radio show on Radiophrenia

With the recent conclusion of the Beàrnaraigh series on Resonance EXTRA it was a pleasure to have the complete 24h version accepted for broadcast by Radiophrenia 2019 (26th May 2019  11:59 pm27th May 2019  11:59 pm).
Radiophrenia is a temporary art radio station – a two-week exploration into current trends in sound and transmission arts. Broadcast live from Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, the station aims to promote radio as an art form, encouraging challenging and radical new approaches to the medium. This May was its fourth year (previously in 2015, 2016 and 2017).
The ideas behind Beàrnaraigh are the same as before (in a blog post from October, below) but here the piece was an extended whole, broadcast as the final, internet only, work of the two week programme.
During the broadcast I hosted a three-hour, 8-channel surround sound version – thanks to everyone who came, it was great to see you all. If you missed any of it then it is now available on my SoundCloud account –

Búðahraun

I start at the back of the wooden church. In the evening light, a family wanders the graveyard but at dawn I am alone. Along the narrow path the back-of-the-beach grass transitions into the ridges, fissures and clefts of the Búðahraun lava field. Marram grass yields to rock – lichen crusted, rounded with moss – a surface razed of vegetation of any meaningful height.

from across black lava
I hear fluty chatter,
song of redwings.

I step, stride, walk the path
to the solstice turn
dusk to dawn, dawn to dusk

https://martinpeccles.com/radio-works/budahraun/