installation : collaboration with Chris Watson & David Tinapple : 2006
Nominated for the 'British Composer of the Year Awards' 2007
Shortlisted for the Foundation Liedts-Meesen New Media Award
background & concept
Vacant Space is a commission by the Sonic Arts Network to create an immersive
installation using sounds and images collected inside a wide variety of empty interiors.
The life and space of architecture without human occupation.
It embraces the context of the generic white gallery, by amplifying the void.
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Vacant Space develops some of my early
thoughts on the relationship between sound and
image, and how that defines architectural space - as outlined in my essay 'Audio & Image'.
Every place has its own character which is hugely influenced by its individual soundscape.
Sound is constantly present, whether we are there or not. Using recordings and panoramic photographs collected
in a series of empty interiors around the world, the installation reveals and celebrates their life without us present.
On entering, the gallery appears silent. Panoramic projections of unoccupied spaces merge and slide across one wall.
Plugging headphones directly into the projection wall reveals random layers of amplified location recordings that
influence the scrolling visuals in different ways. Three spaces are heard at once in an ever-changing composition,
endlessly creating new places. There are still the occasional audible signs of people, but they are either outside of
the room or just passing through - highlighting their absence. Sound travels around corners and through windows.
Sound activates space, and space is essential for soundwaves to live out their lives.
The audio aspect of the project was initially inspired by my experience of travelling abroad to perform concerts.
I usually end up sitting in various types of spaces & locations very late at night when the world had gone to sleep - listening
to the qualities of each specific space and the sounds beyond it, just out of view. I started to record these situations.
The images were inspired by some freelance work I did several years ago for a new company called Ehouse.co.uk.
They were the first people in the UK to create online 'Virtual Tours' of property for sale. These are 360-degree
panoramic scrolling images inside a huge variety of architectural spaces photographed without any people inside.
They kindly granted me access to their enormous archive of fascinating spaces of every kind. To these I added my
own collection of interior photographs that I collected over the past two years on my own travels far and wide.
Imperfections lend character to the world, so forget 'noise cancelling headphones' because this is a study
for noise amplifying headphones, where you can hear the edges of time. A typical cycle of the installation
lasts for over half an hour and is continuously changing. Vacant Space is never the same twice.
South Hill Park Gallery
Sat 25 November 06 - Sun 21 January 2007
Midlands Arts Centre
Saturday 14th of April - Sunday 27th of May 2007
Shown as a silent film at the exhibition
'Public Places, Silent Space' in June 2007
Ars Electronica, Austria
September 5th to 13th 2007
Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
24th Jan 2008 for 3 months
Foundation Liedts-Meesen ‘New Media Award 2008’
Zeebrastraat, Gent, Belgium. 18th April - 6th July 2008
*I first learnt about the sound location recording work of Chris Watson in 1995, at a lecture he
gave as part of an event with Philip Jeck. They both inspired me to begin to work with sound.
So I decided to invite Chris to collaborate in collecting recordings of interiors for this project, as he travels the world.
Professionally he works outdoors collecting wildlife recordings normally for documentaries like 'Planet Earth' on the BBC,
so I thought it would be interesting for him to work indoors for this project.
David Tinapple is a media artist and is super computer literate. I met him through Golan Levin.
He programmed the software contoller for the sound reactive overlaid images that are influeneced by
the movements of the audience. These simple effects that has taken a year of discussions, and has
fulfilled a long term ambition to intrinsically link sound with image.
Screen shot of show software below where you can just make out the merge
between two images responding to the three audio tracks playing randomly.