The original idea for this installation stemmed from my trying to think of a way in which I could present a collection of found sound in a visual form without using complex equipment.
Working in such close proximity to the sea and constantly looking at and hearing the sound of waves led me to devise the arrangement shown here. Click on the images for more info.
The two ripple transducers mounted on the lid of the tank are made from waterproof loudspeaker drive units with extensions attached to the cones. These serve both to create ripples in the water surface and to radiate audible sound waves into the air.
The water ripples reflect light onto the adjacent screen creating the patterns shown.
A 30 minute looped soundtrack contains a mix of raw and processed sound all of which originated along the AOR trail. The sound sources include the voices of the artists and some of the people whom we met during the course of the week, plus ambient coastal sounds and the results of various arcane undertakings...
For the installation, the mix of sounds is divided into two channels, each creating their own waves which are seen to interact in the projected image. Because the transducers are close together we hear the sounds as emanating from a single source, but see the effect of the sound waves merging by the effect of the ripples in the tank.
Here are some samples of the sounds which were used to generate the ripples. Each sample is a fragment of the original which has been remixed to make it slightly more listener-friendly! Specific details are given beneath each Soundcloud window.
Aeolian Harp by Mjwin
Original sound recorded at Rockham bay, Lee Bay and on the cliffs
nearby. My Aeolian harp was simply a 25m length of fishing line stretched taut between two
rocks. One end was attached to a plastic lid from a peanut butter jar. On this I mounted a
simple piezo-electric sensor which served as a contact microphone. At certain moments
when the wind is at a particular strength and direction it causes the line to vibrate, producing
the strange, eerie sounds which can be heard on this track. There is no post-processing
applied to the aeolian harp sounds other than basic filtering to remove some of the gusty wind
noise. The voices (which were picked up directly by the contact microphone arrangement)
are those of a couple of unsuspecting members of the public who happened to wander by. I
passed my headphones to them to listen while I explained what was going on. Unfortunately I
missed the bit where one of them said “that sounds like something out of Dr Who”! A
fragment of the voice was then looped and overlaid with a phase shifted version to produce
the repeating vocal pattern which can be heard in the second part of the track (with apologies to Steve
How bizarre is that view? by Mjwin
Main sound: dripping water from a tiny overflowing rock pool somewhere
near Appledore rocks (I can’t remember exactly where). I’ve taken a 9 second sample, looped
it & then transposed it down 4 octaves in 1 octave steps. The lowest sounds result from a
playback speed of about 6%. The 5 tracks are then introduced one at a time, each entering
after a single cycle of the previous one (that’s 9, 18, 36 & 72 seconds after each other).
Voice-over is courtesy of Brenda & myself. Quite what was bizarre about the view I don’t
remember, although I do say on an unused bit of the recording, “it’s all distorted &
compressed.” (Which sounds like an audio analogy if ever there was one.) But it might have
been the sea air, our frame of mind at the time or, more likely, whatever we had to drink the
Gluggy Sea by Mjwin
Original sound recorded at Down End (this is just outside the official AOR
area, I have to admit!) When the tide reaches a certain point in the outlying rock the waves start to enter a tiny cave which produces these strange sounds. All of the sea sounds were
sampled here over a period of about an hour. The voice-over is none other than my
esteemed colleague, Brenda Jet. I've used a technique known as “sound
granulation” to process the voice. This cuts up the original into short samples of different
lengths, then re-combines them in random order. The sea is thus grinding down and
regurgitating the voice.
Frank & Jack by Mjwin
AKA “turkey montage”. Brenda & I were walking along the shore near
Pensport Rock discussing the fact that I hadn’t yet recorded the Lee Bay turkey. We couldn’t
remember his name, although we were convinced that it was either Frank or Jack. Actually,
it’s Tom. Sorry Tom. The montage is simply a collection of samples of Tom & his cockerel
friend looped and overlaid, plus some nice splashy sea sounds from nearby.
Thanks to Penny in whose garden Tom & friend live.
Duncan's adventure by Mjwin
Firstly, apologies to fellow artist Duncan Cameron, on whose adventure this
is based… Sounds: big, dramatic waves from Rockham as the tide came in on a windy day,
plus some “static” from a VLF receiver which I made a while back. These were recorded in
May at sea level near Pensport rock (and were surprisingly free from 50Hz hum as anyone
who’s ever tried to receive VLF signals will realize.) Plus, of course Duncan’s phone
message to Claire from last June. Duncan was ok in the end, and he’s here somewhere to
prove it! It just goes to show that even the most experienced seafarer can be surprised by the
turn of the tide… The “bleep”, incidentally, is part of the phone message & I’ve looped it to
add to the drama - a signal lost at sea.