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.

Introduction

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 »