The best laid plans…
New adventures always have their challenges. Often, the challenges come from an external source and there is little that can be done other than going with the flow and finding a way to overcome the challenge.
When the challenge comes from within, how do you tackle that? I had decided to create a soundscape. A very different creature from anything I had tackled from a creative standpoint. Bill Fontana provided me with my inspiration and a lovely local musician, Ro Goodwin, was a font of knowledge when it came to recording technology that I could research for my quest. But my art practice is well-being focussed with all it’s implied ethics for personal, ecological and environmental concerns. The idea of buying equipment and adding to the bank of consumerism which is fundamentally against everything that I believe in, left me feeling nauseous.
Listen to Jon Alexander, co-founder of New Citizen Project talk about our roles in consumption here:
Jon Alexander also has an interesting blog here:
It had been my aspiration to produce a ‘Walking Soundtrack’ that spoke of as many elements of nature as possible. To then combine these natural sounds with the notes of humanity: ambient voices, audible words; stillness and frenetic activity in the form of sound, but how to achieve this without consuming…I was consumed by the ‘need’ to consume and I will deal with my self-loathing later.
Learning to combine the recorded sound bites from my Zoom Q2n on Adobe Audition and Adobe Premiere Pro, was interesting. Then of course there were questions to be answered!
- What is the message held within my soundscape?
- How do I create a soundscape that encourages people to stop and listen? To connect with and consider a space as a source of ‘living sound’ with an assumption that there will be something meaningful to hear in any one moment of the soundscape.
- Do I add effects or keep it natural?
- How do I layer the sound bites on the multitrack edit within Audition?
- What sort of PIR (Passive Infra Red) motion sensor do I need and how do I use coding to trigger the sound?
- If I cannot find a means to trigger the sound using a passive sensor, then what?
- DO I HAVE THE NERVE TO GO THROUGH WITH WEARING MY SOUNDSCAPE AND WALKING AROUND WITH IT? Walking art in the truest sense of the meaning.
With compromises, mistakes and WAV files made and the Wayfaring Soundscape converted to an MP3 format, I accepted that with no money or time for a motion sensor, I had to go to plan B: I could be the motion for my audio piece. This required bravery. I am not quite at the ‘Performance Art’ level. Plan C: I placed my audio equipment in the floor in the recessed electrical floor outlet which provided a perfect solution for consolidating the Wayfaring Series of artworks.
The site-specific qualities of the media lent itself to this as an option with some of the conceptual thinking behind the piece being based around acoustic memory. Hearing but not seeing the audio equipment; making a conceptual link between the Wayfaring points by using the soundscape in this way transformed a visual, object based space, into an audio space also. The relationship between each separate piece of artwork developed a thread of connectivity and did in fact result in people slowing down, listening and looking beyond the obvious. Success.
Graham Fagan’s ‘Rope Tree’ and the accompanying audio by Ghetto Priest (listen to it on Vimeo) had been a pivotal moment in my understanding of how space and an artwork, can be transmuted into a sensory experience that you can feel and not just see; drawing on past experience to inform the present.
Through experience and reflection, I have come to understand that collaboration with other artists not only enhances a project on a creative level, but can also act to balance concept with ethos. Utilising another skillset instead of detracting from my own values is the way to go for any future sound art. Tapping in to other professional’s skills also circumnavigates my necessity to consume and relent to buying more, more and ever MORE materials.
So, whilst I would not leap to create another soundscape. I would never say never. I will just add a caveat that states ‘Remember to engage the skills of other creatives to preserve ethics and sanity’.