My Practice So Far
My background is based in sound art and sound installations. It began with an interest in displaying multiple audio channels and developing my own listening skills to be more consciously aware of everyday sounds. My first exhibit used 8 speakers with recorded samples playing at random. These first-hand recordings ranged from nature to manmade objects: some had been altered with effects and others were just looped. The aim was to bring multiple day-to-day sounds that go unnoticed into one space.
Then in Source, an artist-in-residency opportunity run by the Bath Spa: Porthleven Prize 2017, I produced a video and sound piece responding to recordings taken whilst staying in Porthleven. Both mediums interplayed with each other: I made physical movements responding to the audio and then matched manipulated tracks back onto those actions.
My aim was to show how embedded sounds are within a location. It is not just the imagery which is retained in memories but the soundscape too. Below is the final piece.
Janet Cardiff’s sound installations and sound walks are a key inspiration to my work. I am drawn to the intuitive way she brings out themes of memory, narrative and audience participation in her pieces.
From multiple speakers (Forty Part Motet) or binaural format (The Missing Voice: Part B) Cardiff also produces sound art that immerses the listener in different worlds.
In Forty Part Motet Cardiff recorded forty individual singers from Salisbury Cathedral Choir singing the sixteenth-century choral work Spem in Alium by English composer Thomas Talli. Each of their voices corresponded to a speaker and I was fortunate to hear this intimate piece at Tate Modern. The reverberation of forty singers brought back emotions and memories of singing in church with school choir. It was a very powerful experience.
In The Missing Voice: Case Study B, a soundwalk from Whitechapel Library to Liverpool Street Station in London, Cardiff’s voice directs the listener where to go and describes what she saw on her walk. The piece brings two moments of time together as well as layering a fictional one on top. Her use of binaural recording and editing produces a strange, cinematic experience forcing you to untangle what is an illusion and what is real. Cardiff explains on her website that through the layering of voices she is “trying to relate to the listener the stream-of-consciousness scenarios that [she] constantly invent[s]”. Cardiff’s use of 360-degree sonic immersion picks ups sonic details in the soundscape is what first inspired me to explore ways of engaging others with auditory spatial awareness.
Oliveros’ exploration into the difference between hearing and listening or called Deep Listening has been a major inspiration to my research and work. She talks about audio sensibility and experiencing sound for what it is without judgement or learnt association. In her TEDx talk The difference between hearing and listening 2015, she explains that “listening is a lifetime practice that depends on accumulated experiences with sound”.
I can relate to her practice having played the cello in an orchestra whilst growing up and from practicing yoga. We were taught to listen to each other, to envisage the instrument as an extension of ourselves and become tuned in with vibrations around us. Both hobbies encouraged focused listening on detailed sounds or open to the entire field of sound.
This led me to question our perception and attention to everyday listening – are we as consciously aware of the sounds around us? Or is it just an acceptance?