Week four: Experiments with speakers, cymbals and a scanner


Today I’ve been experimenting, trying out some ideas I’d already planned and playing with objects in the space.

First I tested out an idea based on the technique used in Alvin Lucier’s I am Sitting in a Room, as also used by Jacob Kirkegaard in his recordings at Chernobyl. Basic idea was to record the environmental sound as through a rusty metal plate at the end of the garden, then play back that sound to resonate the plate and re-record the results. As with Lucier’s piece, resonant tones grow and multiply and the original sound is lost in translation. The image below shows the recording setup.

recording setup and resonator

The wind was particularly harsh today and, alongside the pathetically dim screen of my laptop, made the whole process pretty frustrating. Despite that, the final sound was satisfying, if a little harsh sounding.

Another idea I’d planned to carry out was to use a flatbed scanner to make an image of the inside wall of one of the test excavations I’d dug. It took a few minutes to widen the hole enough for the scanner to fit, and almost twenty minutes for the scan to complete  (A4 at 2400dpi). Unfortunately the scan didn’t come out,  but the photo below shows the setup.

scanning test excavation

I also experimented with placing some objects in different places on the site. The two photos below are my favourite. This is something I intend to explore further.

cymbals as sculptural objects

buried speaker

Finally, I also experimented with burying the above speaker in one of the test holes and playing a signal through it from a microphone.  Wedging the mic down the gap between the speaker cabinet and the inside wall of the hole gave some interesting feedback sounds, as did suspending it by its wire just on the threshold where feedback would occur (the wind blowing the mic to and fro like an automated version of Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music). Unfortunately, the sudden onset of heavy rain stopped my experimenting, but below is an image of the fully buried speaker.

buried speaker with pendulum microphone

There’s a recording of the pesky rain here. I also had a frantic dig in the main excavation for a while but again, rain got the better of me and I chose the comfort of the pub. More experimenting tomorrow, plus the Lombard Method and British Racing Green opening in the evening.


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