The nursery in which we nurture commercial initiatives is full of arts practice, sound studies and research that contain the seeds of projects exploring sound and listening for wellbeing.
This series of listenings explores the web of interactions that connect contemplatives with the soundscapes in which they practise. From meditation halls to shopping malls, railway stations to riverside locations, home shrines to pilgrimage sites, workplaces to virtual spaces, the research investigates the sonic character of these sites of practice.
Hydrostatic Residue Release
7th March 2021
Hydrostatic Residue gathers orphan tracks from projects exploring the layering and interaction of water, weather and electrical charge. The collection is a first attempt at a contemplative approach to field recording and soundscape composition.
Two wind-generated field recordings are included as bonus tracks when purchasing the album from Bandcamp.
All proceeds to Reading Refugee Support Group (www.rrsg.org.uk)
Panic Buying Release
March 4th 2022
The piece was one of the outcomes of a collaborative project responding to the theme of ‘breathing’. Working with the Royal Berkshire Hospital Intensive Care Unit Support Group, I was intrigued by one gentleman’s recollection of the soundscape in the ICU. He told me how comforting it was to hear the various alarms and monitors around him, as it was a constant reassurance that he was still alive. In sounding the tides of the breath using household objects, I stumbled across the idea of juxtaposing this calm reassurance with the ‘panic’ of running out of toilet paper and bread flour.
All proceeds from the sale of this track will go to the Royal Berks Charity (www.royalberkscharity.co.uk)
Soundscape and the Experience of Positive Silence
Abstract: This body of work employs a practice-based research methodology to explore the experience of silence as positive, of benefit to the individual and, by extension, wider society. The research is positioned within the related fields of Sound Art and Sound Studies with the practice component including soundwalks, sound installation, exhibition and phenomenological enquiry initiated through listenings and reflections. Current research in this area has explored the value of silence through quiet space studies, acoustics and psychoacoustics as well as research in the field of psychology around the human experience of solitude, mindful awareness and distraction. This doctoral research draws upon the insights of these disciplines to inform both the artworks and thinking that cohered into the themes explored in this commentary. Solitary and shared silences characterised by thresholds, masking, sounds of nature, simplicity, familiarity, safety and quality of attention are explored. In so doing, psychological theories of extended mind, construal level and psychological distance are considered in relation to the web of interactions between individual and soundscape. In all, these investigations revealed auditory distraction as a feature of the soundscape that consistently undermined the experience of silence as positive. Acknowledging the growing influence of the ‘attention economy,’ the work explores the psychoacoustic basis for auditory attention and concludes by forwarding practical strategies for working with distraction that have been developed and refined through listening exercises and participatory arts practice.
Audio Blackspots unveiled the disturbing soundscapes concealed amidst Reading’s network of waterways. Revealing sounds normally submerged, entombed within objects or existing beyond the reach of our senses, each stop on the tour draws attention to an audio blackspot, a site of disquieting sonic collisions.
Un silence créatif
June and July 2019
A project mapping and documenting access to public quiet and creative spaces with members of the community in Saint Denis, Paris. The four-year CoCreation research project brings together researchers, policy makers, residents and artists, aiming to ‘co-create’ understanding about marginalised neighbourhoods and address disadvantage. The project is funded by the European Union and locally hosted by European Alternatives.
Summer 2017 - Winter 2018
This series for Sound Diaries explored the soundscapes of formal (usually sitting) meditation, examining both locations expressly set aside for meditation such as priories, chapels and quiet rooms, as well as the ‘quiet spaces’ chosen by practitioners such as urban parks, peaceful rural locations or spaces set-aside in a home. In probing that which is ordinarily dismissed as mundane, the enquiry highlighted the impact of found sound on our attention.
Voluminate employed meditation, sound recording and sound-list-making in exploring and exhausting the audible and inaudible sounds of a disused shop space over the course of one week. The space was used throughout the week for meditation, focus-oriented listening, list-making, sound recording, and related activities, exploring how exhaustive listening and recording can deepen insight into the temporal and spatial interdependency of objects. The week culminated in an open day, presenting the results in performance, installation, participatory listening activities, integrating responses from contemporary artist Mark Langley.