VIDEO: Wednesday – Dispatches from Margate

Wednesday

Continuing with the residency in Margate, here’s the second short video piece:

I wanted to provide a different perspective on Margate from yesterday’s piece, so as the tide receded I spent time down in the harbour capturing the orange and blue tones of the sunset set amongst the beached boats.

I was drawn to one boat in particular, named Sea Horse, which featured a curious Seahorse shaped ‘S’ on its stern.

DSC01457

It was a beautifully clear evening, so as the sun set, the sky was awash with intense oranges that slowly gave way to deep, inky blues. In terms of grading, I wanted to preserve these colours so I enhanced the contrast and deepened the blacks, but did little else. When shooting these scenes I shot in a flat profile and exposed to the right so that I could pull down the blacks in post and maintain the deep blues of dusk.

Finally, I decided to add in some sound design to play off the mostly static shots. The sounds of lapping waves, gusts of wind and creaking boats are suggestive of motion and act almost like ghostly echoes of movement.

The piece was shot entirely on my Sony A7s, using two old M42 lenses:

  • Pentacon 135mm f/2.8
  • Carl Zeiss MC Flektogon 35mm f/2.4

Watch Tuesday here.

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Audio Piece: The List

Earlier in the year I received a commission to produce some experimental audio work on the theme of ‘dreams’ for the ‘Dark Matters’ event at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. For this commission I collaborated with poet James Wilkes who has previously been a poet in residence at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and run the ‘Vox Lab’ project. 

The resulting pieces we produced present a list detailing a week’s worth of dreams – pulling an odd array of incoherent imagery, places and situations into the formalised structure of a list. The list was compiled and narrated by James and then worked into three soundscape movements, each of which were responsive to elements of the list content.

Dreams naturally offer a rich source of imagery to work from, they’re patchy, incoherent and often overflowing with symbolism, so I really like the idea of pulling all this messy imagery into a structured, arbitrary list. In a sense, The List is an attempt to bring order to some of the madness that breaks loose within our nocturnal imaginations. The conscious brain seeking for order from the chaotic ramblings of the unconscious mind.

The  pieces were presented in the form of an In The Dark listening event held at the museum and which pulled together a collection of audio works exploring the human mind, dreams and brain disorders. After curating an In The Dark event for ‘The Voice’  (an event produced by James at the Wellcome Collection) it was great to work with James directly on the production of this commission. It was also fantastic to be given the opportunity to bring creative audio work within the confines of a Science Museum and introduce In The Dark to an audience outside of London!

In The Dark: Beyond The Grave

It’s halloween, so I thought it’d be a good opportunity to post some audio shorts and transitions produced for the In The Dark ‘Beyond The Grave’ event, held back in July. The event took place in the derelict chapel in the grounds of Abney cemetery, Stoke Newington. We ran two sessions with the later taking place in almost complete darkness. Audience members were locked inside the Chapel for their own safety!

These shorts acted as transitions between the main pieces featured at the event.

BONUS TRIP TO HELL: Brighton Horror Hotel

 

Not quite a bonus or a trip to hell, but anyway here’s an extra recording of a Ghost Train taken whilst on a trip to Brighton back in May. Walking along the pier we came across the ‘Horror Hotel’ and couldn’t resist paying for a ride inside. Screams generously provided by my girlfriend.

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/u/13042873/Fright%20Night/Ghost%20Train.mp3]

 

Audio piece: Porn Whales

From porn wails to porn whales

The idea for this piece fell out of a session playing around with audio samples taken from various pornography films, in a bid to produce something for an In the Dark listening event. After a while of manipulating and stretching out these smutty samples I was struck by how much the moans and groans came to resemble the calls of whales.

After a bit of whale sound research I worked to manipulate these sounds until they modelled the range of sounds associated with whales. From the high-pitched clicks, squeaks and squeals to the lower frequency rumbles. The sounds become slightly more unsettling when processed in this way (although out of context they didn’t originally sound that nice to begin with), removing the visual element with which these sounds were originally presented with, definitely made them more sinister. The high-pitched screams are particularly unsettling on their own, baring very little resemblance to the original sample.

However for the event this piece was to be presented at we were keen to finish with something fairly light hearted and I thought it would be much more fun to experiment and explore the concept of ‘porn whales’ than turn this into something dark and foreboding – there was plenty of that featured at the event anyway.

The sounds of the sea were added to provide a little context (recorded in Brighton on a zoom H4n) and the gentle, soothing music came from Kevin Macleod.

The piece was featured and played as part of the In the Dark ‘One Night Stand’ listening event at the Clachan Pub, London 14/05/12.

An added bonus – I thought I’d also share with you one of Isabella Rosseliini’s great Green Porno films – ‘Whale Sex’ :

In the Dark: One Night Stand

Hardcore listening

The latest In The Dark listening event: ‘One Night Stand’ took an unusual step into the murky world of erotica, featuring pieces exploring sex across the animal kingdom; from humans, to snails, to fish and finally to whales. The night proved to be so popular that we had to put on a second sitting, suggesting that sex really does sell, even when it comes to curated listening events.

Sofia Saldanha and I mixed and compiled the audio for the night, including the production of new material to interweave and transition between pieces. Audio featured included a beautiful and emotionally charged interview from the Dialogue Project, a rather unsettling but humorous piece from Canadian radio show Audio Smut (about masterbating in public places) and and a personal favourite from Danish producer Pejk Malinovski whose piece made reference to the artist Matisse by exploring the reproductive behaviours of snails (can be heard here).

We were really keen to move past a linear playlist which simply presented the pieces rigidly, separated by silence. Instead we experimented in blending all the pieces together into a seamless mix. In many cases we produced short interludes and transitions to help take the listener smoothly from one piece to the next and to keep them immersed within the general narrative of the night.

Finishing off the event was ‘Porn Whales’ – an audio short I’d produced, manipulating the sounds of pornography to resemble the calls of whales (below).

Porn Whales

After a bit of whale sound research I worked to manipulate these sounds until they modelled the range of sounds associated with whales. From the high-pitched clicks, squeaks and squeals to the lower frequency rumbles. The sounds of the sea were added to provide a little context (recorded in Brighton on a zoom H4n) and the gentle, soothing music came from Kevin Macleod.

Audio piece: The Dustbin Man Cometh

A processed and layered piece constructed from a single recording of a dustbin truck captured outside of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Headphones recommended.

The piece was produced for exhibition at an In The Dark live listening event on Cityscapes and presented within the Glasshouse Bookshop at the Wapping Project on Wednesday 22nd March 2012.

If you have ever been woken up in the early hours by this sort of noise, I’m sure you’re aware of the complex mechanical racket that they make. It’s a great collection of sounds – clangs, squeaks and crashes – I really wanted to capture and then pull out elements of this noise, turning them into an evolving, glitchy cascade of sound that would fill the listening space it was to be presented in. Anyway, have a listen below.

In The Dark: Cityscapes

The Wapping Project Bookshop (21/03/12)

On Wednesday night I curated a listening event for In The Dark, held within the intimate confines of the Wapping Project’s Bookshop, which just happens to be in a Glasshouse. If you’ve never been to an In The Dark event before, think of it as a film screening, but for radio, sound and audio stories.

The pieces chosen were all tied to the theme of ‘Cityscapes’, tapping into the many stories, textures and soundscapes that resonate from urban environments. The selection spanned a range of styles and formats, from more conventional narrative / documentary pieces to the more abstract, capturing the essence of urban decay through sound.

The features were also blended together with a collection of field recordings which I’d taken from around London, as well as those taken elsewhere, including a Parisian recording form Soundlandscapes blog.

Some notes on a few of the pieces featured:

Out of the Blocks

Included on the playlist was a 7 minute edit of ‘Out of the Blocks’, as recently featured on the Third Coast International site. Produced through a collaboration between radio producer Aaron Henkin and electronic / Hip-hop producer Wendel Patrick, the piece presents a sound rich documentary profiling of an entire city block in Baltimore, ‘documenting the stories, voices, and people who populate the 3300 block of Greenmount Ave.’. What makes this piece stand out is in its interesting use of music, which was scored exclusively by Patrick adding greater texture to the voices and the stories they tell.

You can listen to the short edit on the Third Coast site where there’s also a nice interview with the pair. To listen to the original full hour edit of the documentary go on over to Wendel Patrick’s site.

Gateshead Multistory Car Park

Towards the end of the night we delved into the darker side of urban decay, with an excerpt from the Langham Research Centre’s menacing sound profile of the Gateshead Multi-story Carpark, originally produced for Radio 3’s Between the Ears.

The piece was recorded entirely on location and laid down on reel-to-reel tape, where it was manipulated further, slowed down and looped. Everything heard in this feature was derived from sounds captured within the Carpark and you can really get a sense of the menacing and repressive tone that this concrete behemoth exuded:

The Dustbin Man Cometh

One of the regular noises I come across living in a city, is the early morning mechanical chaos of the dustbin collection. To finish of the night, I played a piece which I’d produced specially for the event – a heavily processed sound piece created from the single recording of a dustbin truck collection.

If you have ever been woken up in the early hours by this sort of noise, I’m sure you’re aware of the complex mechanical racket that they make. It’s a great collection of sounds – clangs, squeaks and crashes – I really wanted to capture and then pull out elements of this noise, turning them into an evolving, glitchy cascade of sound that would fill the listening space it was to be presented in. Anyway, have a listen below:

The next In The Dark event will be held on the 4th April, aboard the Lightship95 with guest curator Martin Johnson

Audio piece: Winter’s Rest

This is a short audio piece which was originally created for the In The Dark Christmas party – however it didn’t quite fit the bill in the end, being as it is, devoid of any Christmas cheer. Anyway, I thought I’d better not let it go to waste and instead make it available on here – I suppose this is the obligatory Christmas themed post.

Image: youngdoo (Flickr)

It’s another short piece (see Adam as machine) which has fallen out of The D-Word, a documentary I produced over the summer which will be appearing on Transom.org early in the new year. This piece features pathologist, Dr Stuart Hamilton and was recorded in the mortuary at the Sunderland Royal Infirmary back in July. The material I recorded with Stuart at the mortuary only forms a small part of the overall documentary, yet I think it’s interesting enough to justify an entire piece on it’s own, maybe I’ll get around to it one day.

Dr Hamilton explained to me how winter was a particularly busy period for the mortuary staff, with mortality rates increasing in the elderly over the colder months of the year. Another interesting point was that they tended to receive an increase in the number of decomposed bodies at Christmas, but I’ll let you listen to the piece to find out why…

I’m not going to go into a massive rant on how important it is to make an effort to spend time with family, because I’m particularly guilty of not doing so. It just seems that the mortuary staff gain a depressing insight into the mistakes we make and how we choose to lead our lives.