Dark as a Raven – SoundScapes
Soundscape. Sound installation. Sonic Art. Surround Sound. Call it what you want but the joy of hearing sound all around you, immersing your body within it, is something that needs to be experienced. You know this from attending live shows, feeling the vibration of the sound move through you, or simply sitting outdoors and hearing the rush of traffic behind you, a plane overhead, voices passing by from left to right.
The exhibition SoundScapes is a selection of sound works featuring multi-channel compositions by five practitioners of sound art, experimental music, and field recording. As curator Stephen Vitiello writes in his introductory essay: “The term “soundscape” is often spoken of in terms of listening to natural environments and all that our ears are able to detect at a given moment—bird songs and insects, wind, rain, leaves rustling in the breeze… Soundscape can also refer to a piece of music, rich with a variety of abstract sounds.”
“The works in this exhibition are all designed for multi-channel playback. Three speakers are placed in front of the listener and two speakers are placed on the opposite side of the room. A sub-woofer transmitting lower frequencies sits on the floor. While 5.1 audio is generally a system for home theatre and at one time, for cinemas, the format has proven useful to a number of artists interested in placing sounds and moving them in an expanded listening space that the larger number of speakers and dispersion system affords—beyond the traditional stereo (two-channel) format. While some sound artists and musicians look to new technologies, others look to the past for instruments and objects that may enhance a sense of nostalgia or tonal “color.”
My work, Dark as a Raven, was originally installed in ancient Hazel and Thoroughsale Woods, located in the town of Corby in central England, commissioned as part of Beyond Seven Mountains by Fermynwoods in 2016. Read all about this fabulous show here at Dutch Girl in London‘s Blog. It could be heard played out on wooden speakers hidden in the trees. This time I’ve completely reworked the piece and spatialised it so it feels like it’s moving all around you. You can listen to an earlier simple stereo mix here.
Dark as a Raven bridges environmental ambience with an ominous electronic soundtrack. The work responds to the capacity of a raven to mimic human sounds, so recordings of ravens speaking were spliced into emblematic phrases, both abstract and strange. The title of this piece references the raven—which in ancient Greece was thought to be a mythological oracle and a messenger between the Greek god Apollo and humankind—as well as the name of the town Corby itself, the original meaning of which is “dark as a raven.”
Curated by internationally acclaimed sound artist Stephen Vitiello, SoundScapes features works by Olivia Block (Chicago); Maria Chavez (Lima, Peru/New York); Marcus Fischer (Portland, Oregon); Robin Rimbaud – Scanner (U.K.); and Jana Winderen (Norway).
Moss Art Center