In working towards the establishment of a sound museum, it becomes essential to define what such an institution must collect, as the collection of objects has historically been viewed as essential to the mission of museums (Wittlin 1949, Macdonald 2011). While this notion has been gradually evolving to embrace intangible culture (Conn 2009, Gurian 2006), and work is developing related to the curation of sound in a museum context (Lobley 2015), I feel it is useful in the long term to propose an object-based methodology for sound curation centring around what I refer to as the acoustic object. Continue reading →
This week I participated in the Music & Silence workshop convened by the Science Museum and Nottingham University at the Royal College of Music. As part of the workshop, I was asked to respond to the previous events of the day. During my response, I played a recording I had made that morning of 4’33” of the sound inside the anechoic chamber that we visited at London South Bank University; I also composed the following poem in response to a live reading performance by Salomé Voegelin and Daniela Cascella. They read a series of text fragments from various sources they had strewn on the ground before them. My poem is made up of quotations of their improvised reading selections, in the reverse order of which they were heard during the reading. Fragments of fragments – an echoing.Continue reading →
It was misting as I walked past the fountains in Trafalgar Square: white noise, grey day. Moments before, I had woven a curving path through the Square, noticing where the sound of the fountain became blocked by the base of Nelson’s Column. This time it was a consistent swish, a rising and falling as I approached and then passed: a fade in/fade out. A turn of a dial. Continue reading →
Egypt’s current Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim is planning to file a formal complaint with UNESCO, declaring that a replica of the Sphinx built at a recently opened Chinese amusement park “harms Egypt’s cultural heritage.” The life-sized Chinese Sphinx replica was completed in April 2014, but judging by a photo of it, I would be hard pressed to call it an exact replica of the original. It’s close enough, however, to have angered the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. There appears to be no evidence of the Chinese attempting to pass off their Sphinx as the original, particularly since it sits within an amusement park instead of a pyramid complex, thereby cut off from any of the cultural context that would usually give the Sphinx its meaning.
I have a new album of museum sounds that has just been announced for release on 1 July 2014 by the 3Leaves label. If you’re at all interested in listening to museums, this album is an hour of nothing but. Below is the short text I wrote to promote the album on the 3Leaves website; the CD comes with a much longer essay detailing its making. The album is currently available for pre-order, and you can hear a ten minute preview on SoundCloud.
“For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by museums — not just as places of looking and learning, but also of listening. To me, the soundscape of a museum resonates with the active sounds of history, the nexus between a museum’s contemporary sonic world and the historical objects housed within it. In my view, these sounds exist in the realms between documentary and drama, awe and aura.
This is the second installment of an ongoing series of psychogeographic sound maps of museums. Several hours of source recordings chronicling my interactions with and observations of every public space in the museum were secretly captured during the spring and summer of 2013, using only the built-in microphones of an Olympus LS-10 portable digital recorder. These sounds were then edited down to a highly composed, but unprocessed, hour-long impossible journey through the Art Institute of Chicago’s original building and its 2009 Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing addition.”