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Monday, 29 August 2011

Aural Terrains: Space and Meaning

After visiting the Audio Foundation we had several potential places to send up a number of different installations.  However there was one space in particular which we noticed that captivated us.  In the foyer area at the base of the already quite spooky and atmospheric stairwell was a slat doorway leading to an unused warehouse space.  The area was inaccessible and did not belong to 'The Audio Foundation', but rather the adjoining 'Tie Factory building.

We built an idea around this area whilst an application to the Tie Factory to use their space was processed.  Basically with the knowledge that the installation would be observed at night time, we were going to take the already dark malevolent nature of the space and supplement it with a five minute track of our own.  

We wanted to create something really simple and do it well.  As opposed to involving a strong visual aspect or an interactive element, we wanted to create a static sculpture of sound not unlike the work of sound artist Rachel Shearer -who had been a guest lecturer in the weeks prior.  We wanted this pre-recording to have a life of its own and to complement the area in a way that it was engaging enough as a stand-alone body of work.

We wanted to invoke a sense of anxiety and distress as opposed to recreating a typical scene from a horror movie.  We liked the idea of things being hidden away in a closet and forgotten about, this in turn posed the question of what happens to discarded memories and ideas.  Behind closed doors where the inaccessible lives can things take on a life of their own.  The powerless feeling that comes along with a lack of understanding is a strongly unnerving emotional response.  This lent itself well to the space we had chosen and gave us a basic framework for which to theme our five minute track.

After confirmation from the Tie Factory, we started planning what exactly each member of the group had to accomplish and contribute to the final proceedings.  As we had a larger group which was negotiated whilst planning the surround sound-heavy talk-box idea, it was important that we demonstrated that each member of the team was pulling their weight.

We built this graph to provide a common visual reference of exactly where across the five minute track we wanted to build energy, and where we wanted to drop and re-engage any wandering ears.  It proved absolutely essential in the construction process, and in hindsight following the graph made our individual tracks integrate seamlessly.

As a functional method of gathering the necessary sound clips to collate into our finished track; we each took a section of the whole contextual idea to research and scavenge.  The raw individual aspects which we thought suited the area and therefore the mood of the piece were formed.  They were:

-Atmospheric bass noise.  Frequencies that provided the backbone of the piece.  Undetectable resonant tones to try and give our observers that privkly feeling up the back of their neck.

-Wet creepy noises.  These were aimed to give the feeling of discomfort associated with being in wet uncontrollable conditions, and to further provide a dank and dangerous backdrop.

-Spooky background noise.  Closest of the group to fitting the horror genre.  These would continually disturb and build heavily to the climax and crescendo of the piece.  This aspect I was personally in charge of.

-Alien noises.  To harness the unknown and alien nature embodied in the context of our work.  These would be more unfamiliar and erratic than the previous aspects, often aiming to startle and unsettle the audience.

-Speech.  Along with the alien noises this would be the most provocative of the tracks.  It would encapsulate certain ideals or topics that have been swept under the rug -that society has chosen to disregard.  It provided another dimension to the piece and made it a little more human.

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