My plan was to search for and collect sound and sculptural traces of both the mining and natural formation of the landscape over its history. I focused around the adit of an old lead/cadmium mine, its extensive waste tips and water filtration systems and the river into which they flow below. Can you listen to a sites history? Is its past sonically evident it its? What are the physical traces of its formation? The residues of actions? How can you inhabit and absorb its surfaces, its skins?
Vivid Ochre Mud. Preserved Lake, a frozen sunken moment, Feet locked. Toxic sludge. Mesmerising ooze. Don’t touch. Silent. Killer. Slow running, on a different time. Holding our past and future in its present.
Image: Copper sheet being etched by the acid mine water
Images above and below: Copper imprints of the rocks from the entrance to the mine adit and at the base of its tip beside the river
A short preview of a field recording where the waste tips meet the river. Here I scanned the surfaces of the rocks and water listening for how the hollows and textures of the rock filtered the surrounding sounds and trying to follow the lines and motions the water had taken to carve them.
Scanning the rocks surface, I’m scraping my guts along here. Water’s not gentle. It prickles, gouges, carves and dissolves. I’m listening for those traces inside the cavities, along the smoothed surfaces. Loose flakes peeling from moisture, mud becoming mud again. I’m listening. How long have you been becoming? Becoming and becoming and Scraping the surface I’m trying to get closer, moving with you, beside you. I rest in the cavities, listening chambers holding and shaping surrounding sound. I’m getting closer. You’re getting under my skin. ‘In meating meeting einfleischen.’ I don’t know it yet but doing this means I will carry you back with me, wherever I go. My arms and body hold those lines, those cavities. They are part of me now. Now I dream of them, re tracing. I transfer from your surface to mine – no difference. We are together now.
FLUID BODIES — IMPRINTS cont.
Above and Below: Pewter pours in the Rheidol river
Field Recordings from the frozen river. Ice sheets scrape against one another and the rocky sides.
My studio overlooks a construction site and the doc yards. They’re captivating! Particularly the mountains of scrap metal and the mounds of different gravels in the concrete yards. I’ve been thinking about urban landscapes in terms of geological processes. It’s in these places, with the backdrop of the city and these raw materials, that I find my subject. This metal scrap feels like a graveyard, old skeletons of city constructions. On the opposite bank piles of gravel and earth wait to be mixed into sharply sculpted urban mountainscapes, walkways and roads.
SITE VISITS – Wandering Perspectives
Docs- Heavy earth. Low lying. Slow moving belly. Mountains shifting from one place to another. Dirt. I feel it’s wet weight and cold underside in my guts. Slow. Drag. Rattle. Shiver. I’m in it’s base. Sitting Low in the Boat. Skin Quivering. Sliding. At the surface. A Low horizontal presses through the water.
Scrap Yards – Rust in the air. Skin on the wind. I’m lining my stomach with the buildings of Brussels. In this place I feel the full cycle of the city. The leftovers. Skeleton scrap yard. Screeching. Rusting. Hammered. Dusted. Dirt. Bone dry. Cold. Fragile. Creak. Full cycle.
Contrasted against the city behind, it feels complete. None of this is forever. I think of Wales and the hollows held in the landscape of the metal mines and wonder where this all came from.
Tondolier Gas Cylinders – Gent I traverse its outside edge, follow it’s moat, stroke, knock and beat its skin. All the while, in my mind I’m exploring it’s insides- a mysterious underground dwelling. The space I hear is in my belly. A wasteland. A disorientating cave of damp, dark and cold. A total polarity of internal and external, real and imaginary.
Below:- field recording from inside the gas cylinder
STUDIO – PERSPECTIVES – Notes, Experiments, Catalogues
The Studio I’m inside, but dreaming of outside, or, the deeper, darker insides. The between spaces, hidden walls, between floors, inside pipes and vents. Where is it porous? Where are its guts?
Poetics of Space – Bachelard ‘The wardrobe had no keys…Many a time we dreamed of the mysteries lying dormant between its wooden planks And we thought we heard, deep in the gaping lock, a distant sound, a vague and joyful murmur.’ p80 I’m reading this on my commute to Brussels. Something about how it’s written pushes me off into fantastical daydreams, flying through spaces, re-orientating my body, inhabiting different ones, searching new angles.
In the studio I explore its spaces using objects, found filters and my body, testing different ways of playing its surfaces. I record all of them and begin to catalogue them, noting their successes and failures, interesting combinations and further ideas. Once I’ve exhausted all possibilities I begin to play with the recordings and speaker arrangements, gradually beginning to incorporate live elements as well. What works best live? I’ve been swinging around hoover tubes with speakers inside, stroking the walls, sweeping cylinders with the air con recording across cables in the space. Very quickly the bizarre visuals takes over and the sound it generates takes a back seat. I think about performing in the dark. In all of this Bachelard’s writing influences me heavily. It’s full of a fluid exploration of space. Of spaces that fold into one another, of perspectives that are forever warping, or mirroring, looking from one side to the other and up up and over.
Day Dreaming – Standing in the centre surrounded by a cylinder of droning rotating air con. – a solid wall. From time to time a glitch punctures the wall, my ears strain into the vacuum outside, it feels like a string pulling out from my ears, reaching into blackness. Below, a carpet of static pulses and further off (below) I can sense the heavy belly of a metal body rising from some hidden depths. REORIENTATE I am outside, moving with some sort of snake-like creature flying through the air. Slithering electrics. Metallic. (Up in the far right corner of the room.) REORIENTATE Back inside. I have the feeling I’m sinking. The carpet static is rising and I’m slowly getting closer to the metallic form beneath me. I am somewhere cold, dark and damp. My feet are dry but sticky and solidly encased. Tentacles/Veins trickle, weave and slide through the air towards me. Icy slithers. The snake from earlier? Electrical, cold white or silver blue, wriggles of light in the velvet blackness. Almost hissing. REORIENTATE I’m fully inside the metal space now. Vertical sinking becomes a horizontal seeping ooze. My face sinks down, falls. Trickling along a ground. Seeping into dark gaps. Sucked up by damp soil. My awareness is spread out now, listening and feeling in every particle of mud. This is my skin. The dampness my body. Worms punctuate and tickle my edges. I stay porous, sponge-like. Heavy. My belly water-logged and sticky. REORIENTATE Taking shape again. I’m forming a stream. I’m face down. Particles are gathering and forming clusters below. I can feel their attraction to each other, their natural glue. To flow through. To find paths.
In the studio I have a steel plate fixed with a large surface transducer. It sits just above the floor surface. A pile of concrete rubble is scattered over it, salvaged from beneath the studio floor. Across its surface I begin to sculpt a space through sound. It fizzes pops and booms. The square form feels fluid from the changing sounds. Spaces open up beneath the floor. I am looking down. And all at once I am diving searching through the mysteries of this phantom body.
I have none, except, I definitely have a clearer idea of my process – how I need to meander from here on and I now also know the form of my technical set up in the studio. Up till now I had been trying to create live performances/mixes using pro tools. I have now switched over to Abelton Live and it has immediately given me the dynamic interface I was looking for. Sculpting the sound feels much more tangible now! Thanks Els and Christoph! and Overtoon!