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A Space for Sound -The Arches Sound Project

September - December 2022 

A Space for Sound – The Arches Sound Project is a listening space located in the historic centre of Newcastle University. The space brings together temporary sound pieces from a range of practitioners and researchers working across the University. 

This series of temporary sound installations brings our Arches to life throughout the term – read on to find out what you can expect to hear as you walk through campus. 

About the project Earlier this year the Institute for Creative Arts Practice invited colleagues and students to submit their ideas as part of a programme of sound installations. 

The response was fantastic, and the resulting programme brings together and presents diverse sound-based work/research from a range of practitioners and researchers working across the University as well as projects with our external collaborators and partners 

The project team includes Professor Richard Talbot and Mel Whewell from the Institute for Creative Arts Practice. The technical aspects of the project are being curated by Tim Shaw, sound artist and Lecturer in Digital Media in the School of Arts & Cultures Tim’s work is being supported by PGRs (and sound artists) Rob Blazey, Yusuf Ghani and Stuart Arnot.
 
The Humanities Research Institute and the Institute for Social Science are also partners in the project. 

 

Programme: September - December 2022
 

October 17th-23rd  

Blood, bone, crone: menopausal musings from here and there 
The journey through menopause is as unique as every woman who experiences it but there remains a certain stigma about talking about this phase of our lives as if somehow we should be ashamed of our sweaty bodies and befuddled minds.  The voices you hear in this this piece come from a series of workshops with women in Newcastle and Makerere (Uganda) which took place in autumn 2021, where they talked about their own menopause experiences, both as embodied and felt but also in relation to others’ responses, including their GPs, the line managers and co-workers, as well as friends and family.  The primary output of the project is an 18-minute animated film and the soundtrack which comprises this piece is the audio track from the film. The film and the artworks created by the participants as they told their stories, was first exhibited in the Long Gallery, King Edward VI Building, in July 2022 and is currently on display in the foyer of the Catalyst building, Newcastle Helix, 17-23 October 2022 to celebrate World Menopause Day (18 October)

Karen Ross, Professor of Gender and Media, School of Arts and Cultures

Collaborator and animator: Sheryl Jenkins


October 24th-30th
  

Following the Flight of the Monarchs 
An interdisciplinary acoustic ecology project led by Dr Rob Mackay, bringing together artists and scientists, connecting with ecosystems and communities along the migration routes of monarch butterflies as they travel the 3,000 mile journey between Mexico and Canada each year. Streamboxes are being installed along the monarch butterfly migration routes between Canada and Mexico. These livestream the soundscapes of these different ecosystems 24/7 via the Locus Sonus Soundmap (http://locusonus.org/soundmap/051/ ). The streams are being used for ecosystem monitoring as well as integrating into artworks which are raising awareness of the issues the monarchs face, whose numbers have declined by nearly 90% over the past two decades due to industrial use of herbicides and pesticides, deforestation, and climate change. Artefacts produced so far include a touring installation (presented at the Eden Project, and various international conferences and festivals; a networked telematic performance; and a radio programme for BBC Radio 3 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000qyhz). The project website is available here: https://followingtheflightofthemonarchs.com/ 

The sound you can hear in The Arches is from a 30 minute networked performance combining live audiostreams from monarch butterfly reserves in Mexico, USA and Canada, alongside live performances from Rob Mackay (flute, UK); David Blink (handpan and trumpet, California); and Rolando Rodriguez (poetry, Mexico). 

Ritmos del Parque Urbano el Bosque
Commissioned for the Chilean Soundlapse project (https://soundlapse.net/?lang=en). The project brings together artists, biologists and computer scientists using an innovative sonic time-lapse montage technique to capture changes in the soundscapes over several years. The piece was published in November 2021 alongside other international sound artists on the German Gruenrekorder label. This work explores the rhythms inherent in field recordings taken at different times within Parque Urbano el Bosque in Valdivia, Chile as part of the Soundlapse project. During the piece the listener is taken through various rhythmic explorations between the cycles of day and night, reflecting the longer diurnal rhythms within the park. 

Sea Songs
Commissioned by Invisible Dust (https://invisibledust.com/), working with Scarborough Sixth Form students over the summer of 2021 as part of the Sea Songs project (https://invisibledust.com/projects/sea-songs-soundwalks). Dr Rob Mackay ran several field recording and acoustic ecology workshops including two boats trips off the Scarborough coast to record the sounds of marine life in the area. Using hydrophones, participants were able to record the sounds of dolphins, grey seals, snapping shrimp, and even the sound of seaweed photosynthesising in rock pools. They also discovered the impact of human noise pollution underwater.  

Sea Songs attempts to convey a sense of the more-than-human world in which we live and to open our ears to the strange and often unheard soundscape which is literally a few meters off the shoreline. 

Rob Mackay, Senior Lecturer in Composition, School of Arts and Cultures 

 

October 31st-November 6th  

No. 2: no trace 
No. 2: no trace” is a critical engagement with solitary movement through time-space. It took place over half a mile of the River Pont in Northumberland and examined walking in the context of two walks (on the winter solstice and on the spring equinox), each one downstream and upstream, along a common route, in the river. Using Ingold’s idea of the trace, the walks allow consideration of the absence of the walker’s trace and the impact on walking of profound disruption of the walker’s senses (vision, hearing, balance).

Martin Eccles, Sound artist & PhD Candidate, School of Arts and Cultures

 

November 7th-10th  

Baraye by Shervin Hajipour
Baraye – a song about the protests in Iran – has become an anthem for women and freedom and will play every hour on the hour over the four days.  There will also be information about the song displayed on the Arches noticeboard.  

An English translation of the song can be seen here

 

November 14th-20th  

Catcher in the Rye 
Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers.
Catcher in the Rye
Based on: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Genre: Piano piece/Sarabande.
This piece, inspired by Gymnopédies by Erik Satie, describes the confused, wishing, wandering gloom of Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I decided to close the album with the original take of the piece recorded on an I-phone, complete with interference and background noise to create a sonic manifestation of Holden Caulfield’s brazen defiance.

Alastair King, PGR, Music, School of Arts and Cultures

 

November 21st-27th

all illusions, all again 
all illusions, all again documents the soundscape of Newcastle Upon Tyne in November 2021 when Storm Arwen was moving across the UK. Coming out of the later stages of the country’s re-opening the following the third national lockdown, Storm Arwen arrived at a time when the city’s streets were filled every night with bustling crowds, moving in and out of pubs and clubs, compensating for the lost nightlife of the lockdown era. This piece captures the sounds of storm, taking the vibrations against floor-to-ceiling window as a basis for its soundscape along with the throbbing of club music and the voices of those in the streets. This is a soundscape that at once transcends its immediate temporality and is truly fixed in its time. It hearkens back to Newcastle’s pre-COVID soundscape while taking record of the post-lockdown nightlife explosion. 

The piece also documents the anxieties surrounding COVID and the potential in 2021 of a winter lockdown, further isolating those who were already lonely, and quashing the hopes of those desperate again to enjoy social freedom. It asks if the autonomy being enjoyed at that time was an illusion. As well as documenting Storm Arwen and the resilience of the public in the face of the storm and the pandemic, this piece is a prayer for the growth of human connection, the safety of those outdoors, and the restoration of the life. 

Consider the Wounds (Kyrie Orbis Factor) 
Consider the Wounds is a durational work which takes recordings of a previously composed organ work and dislocates its voices, processing and spreading them in space of the arches. The title of the piece comes from the Orbis factor text, “consider the wounds produced by the devil’s art” and repurposes them in the context of loss that has been so ubiquitous throughout, and after the pandemic. The pandemic brought to light the translocality, the worldwide impact, of loss, and this piece presents a space for reflection, a place of refuge, and a site for confronting our feelings. 

For all of its shifting voices, its wandering threads and moments of difficulty, the piece is punctuated by moments of sonic clarity. Among the soundscape of dense textures and suspended time, the organ’s dislocated voices sing and lament with only one melody on their lips. The Kyrie orbis factor plainsong is woven into a tapestry entirely of itself in a plea for mercy, whether sacred or secular. 

James Clay, PGR, Music, School of Arts and Cultures

 

November 28th-4th December  

In the Sunset
This piece is part of a set of pieces I have made exploring grief, my heritage, and the stories within my Irish family. My Irish heritage is something I was drawn to investigate further following the death of my gran, utilizing recordings of her voice as the basis for several sound works.


With ‘In the Sunset’, I aimed to convey a feeling of loss and sadness that is not uniquely specific to me but can be read and translated by the audience into their own experiences. Inspired by Steve Reich’s “Different Trains”, I decided to notate clips of my Gran talking as musical motifs and orchestrated them to highlight the melodic nature of her accent, something that she would have been ridiculed for when she moved to England.

I involved field recordings of the birdsong in my Grandparents garden as well as recordings of my Gran’s bedroom in the weeks before she died, hoping to build a sense of nostalgia for a place that now exists in memory. The piece concludes with the final poem used in Strauss’ ‘Four Last Songs’, this is a piece of music that has inspired a lot of the musical arrangement in my work.

Beatrice Keelan, 
Undergraduate, Fine Art, School of Arts and Cultures

 


Previous Programme:
June to early September 2022
 
 

June 15-17  

One Key Magic 

One Key Magic is one of the highlights of the British International Studies Association 2022 conference, held for the first time at Newcastle University. For nearly 60 years RAF Fylingdales has tracked all human made objects launched into Low Earth Orbit to distinguish signs and give warning of a nuclear attack from space. For this reason, retired space crews have called space operations a geo-political practice. This work will make audible the electrical and sonic landscape of space operations and geopolitical practices on Fylingdales Moor. 

Michael Mulvihill, Artist & Research Associate (Co-I) AHRC Turning Fylingdales Inside Out: Making practice visible and the UK’s ballistic missile early warning and space monitoring station. School of Geography, Politics and Sociology 

Co-convenor Military War and Security Research Group 


June 24
th -30th  

One Day Changes  
These pieces form part of One Day Changes which is a joint exhibition by Skimstone Arts' Associate Artists and photojournalists Ako Ismail from Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Shahor Omar from Kirkuk, Iraq who now live in the North East of England with lived refugee experience. The exhibition shows how in one day something so dramatic and life-changing forces people, including children, who were leading normal lives, suddenly to become refugees fleeing their homes, and as survivors look for a safe place. 
 
Skimstone Arts, an artist led, multi arts organisation, passionate about working with diverse Associate Artists and communities.  

skimstone.org.uk/one-day-changes-exhibition

Theresa Easton, Artist & Lecturer in Fine Arts (Printmaking), Fine Art, Schools of Arts & Cultures  
David Baine, Journalist & Senior Lecturer, Media & Cultural Studies, School of Arts & Cultures 

 

July 4th-7th  

Reclaim the Streets – running as feminist activity 
I use running and my body as an instrument in a methodical exploration and examination of the challenges women face. I reveal how running creates an unconscious confidence, but also exposes the limitations or constraints of women’s access to the city and society raising questions of visibility, the female flaneur and patriarchal systems. The running process reveals and generates stories of people, place and societies of wunners. 

The sounds of this installation follow the traces left behind by my female feet, my female breath, my female experience and creates a sound constellation of the lived experience of the wunner. 

Sarah Ackland, Architect & PhD Candidate, School of Architect Planning & Landscape 

 

July 19th – 26th 

Walking Festival of Sound
Walking Festival of Sound is a transdisciplinary event exploring the role of walking through and listening to our everyday surroundings. It combines public events including walking performances, walking seminars and listening sessions, all taking place in diverse public spaces and online. Walking Festival of Sound facilitates a meeting point for the international network of practitioners and researchers interested in sound and walking. Through diverse events we explore how walking and listening practices can augment and challenge the way we perceive, navigate through, and care for our shared environments. This year’s Walking Festival of Sound is taking place in Vancouver and Seoul.  

Tim Shaw, Sound artist & Lecturer in Digital Media, School of Arts & Cultures 

 

August 20 – Sept 3rd

A walk round Contención Island 
November 2020 and a second lockdown. This was an attempt to get infection rates down to allow a break at Christmas. Because of the government’s distaste for restrictions of freedoms this was introduced as being for a fixed time - 28 days. As with the first lockdown, I had the question of an artistic response. So … having spent the spring lockdown creating Contención Island I now planned to walk its edge, to walk the shoreline of the island and, in so doing, to also mark off the days of lockdown.  

With a compass in the middle of the island, I measured 28 equal angles (of 12.9 degrees) and, where each cut the island rim produced 28 stretches of coastline – all of different lengths. I walked one each day, clockwise, and rebuilt the entire island; the order in which I walk the sections was determined by chance – over 28 days, re-building an island across time. Each walk was recorded in sound, poetry and line.   

Martin Eccles, Sound artist & PhD Candidate, School of Arts & Cultures 

 

 
 

 

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences