A personal reflection on the first half of the Landscape Quartet project by Matthew Sansom, given at the first symposium, Newcastle University (UK), July 4-5 2013.
This paper reflects on the initial stages of a research project, called the ‘Landscape Quartet’, exploring practical strategies for ecological sound art and their significance. It is research with experimental art practice at its core, determining both research process and research outcomes (Borgdorff in Biggs & Karlsson 2010: 57), seeking to critically engage with notions of the environment and our relationship with it. Broadly speaking, it joins a number of other areas of arts practice, academic endeavour, and philosophical enquiry to question the paradigm of post-Enlightenment thinking, and offer critique on Cartesian notions of the world, perception, understanding, consciousness, and so on.
I begin with an account of a performance of mine from the 2011 WFAE conference. The performance was an improvised hour-long multi-channel collage using field recordings made during three days of listening-led walks in Corfu town. Halfway into what was a hot and humid midday hour, storm winds began to rattle the open windows of the Old Fort’s Wheatstore – the venue for the performance. The wind and then rain began to weave their presence into the space; distant rumblings and thunder added their voices to an electric atmosphere. It was an exhilarating and arresting intervention that drew attention to my sense of separation between the containing architectural space of the venue and the weather-world outside by virtue of way these circumstances, as they unfolded, acted to remove that same sense of separation. Read the rest of this entry »
This ‘natural wilderness’ and the arable fenland of Wardy Hill (from yesterday) are of course both highly managed. The difference with Wicken Fen is that it follows systems of land management dating from hundreds of years ago, and allows for a far more sympathetic dynamic between the land and our use of it. I was fairly ambivalent about the difference previously. I considered the banks of the Wash – land drainage on a magnificent scale. Having visited WF, I feel very happy that this place is right. I think the ‘ecological dimension’ is becoming more meaningful to me, and the particular historic subtleties and environmental consciousness it represents seem to move me in ways the awe of brutality of the Wash and the land technologies of farming don’t actually. It seems I’ve also discovered something of the human scale I mentioned in the previous post. Read the rest of this entry »
Just returned from Jerusalem Drove, Wardy Hill, Coveny, nr. Ely. Went to explore open fen. On the East/Ely side of the Wash. Thought about walking along one of the banks of the Wash also. Alternative contender is National Trust site Wicken Fen. Bit of a dilemma about where exactly to go. Don’t have the luxury of listening walk led wanderings of the ‘Metis’ project because of the scale and time available. Although, if I warm to Wicken Fen that will afford (there’s that word again), more of a wander-explore-discover (unearth) kind of approach. Part of me loves the idea of mile-upon-mile of identical looking manmade ‘artificial’ drains, difficult tracks, inhospitable climate, etc. probably ‘difficult’ source material for this kind of thing. I like the challenge, the fact the it forces the work to be about the place and my relation to it, finding out what that is, and not pretty sounds.
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