UPDATE before the Bank Holiday (!)
ANTICLINE: GPS-triggered soundscape for Westdown Quarry (now running). This work can be downloaded free from my website (all instructions for downloading and use are HERE!)
SYNCLINE: array of 6 autonomous megaphones beaming audio content into The Amphitheatre at Fairy Cave Quarry (work-in-progress)
PERICLINE: sonic audio-art gallery piece for the Black Swan, Frome: this is the third piece in the triptych of audioworks for Step in Stone; it’s now in its final stages:
Very many thanks to great guy Charles Clapham, Workshop Supervisor for the School of Earth Sciences, Bristol University. I rang him up out of the blue with my strange artistic request to create rock core samples out of the Fairy Cave Quarry rock so I could animate them and he said, “bring’em in!” “When?”, I asked. “Now,” he said. Two weeks later he rang me up – he’d made two 25mm cores out of the rock. Thanks to Bristol Uni!
[Ralph Hoyte working with Phill Phelps]
It’s been an incredible fortnight, unleashing inner reserves of energy I didn’t know I had, and thank goodness for the unyielding patience and support of partner Nick Weaver, helping to pull off the installation of Step 2 while finishing off artwork, getting signage done for 2 venues and co-ordinating it all… Halecombe and Westdown quarries are now open daily for all to visit – see Duncan Simey’s wonderful selection of pics from a very rainy Friday. Jack Offord filmed us for the documentary – looking forward to seeing the results of that on our Preview evening of 2nd October at Black Swan.
Below is a selection from our Step 2 installation days and a couple of photoshoots by Duncan Simey taken since.
And some of our finished work:
My main pieces are the ones with long colourful tentacles, based on crinoids (see earlier post about the making process)! Sadly a heavy steel spring (a small component of my work) went missing and other parts tampered with at Westdown the first weekend – if anybody spots this lurking in the bushes there, do contact me, it might be from my work!
The past week has been filled with our workshops, guided walks and talks, held at SESC, Westdown and Halecombe Quarries. The guided walks, in collaboration with Rosie and Pippa from Somerset Wildlife Trust, have been really well attended, and workshop participants of all ages have explored a range of creative approaches related to artists’ work and the project. Thanks to our wonderfully inspiring workshop leaders (Bron, Tanya, Christina, Suzie), all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience! Sally’s talk was much appreciated and I did a talk for 27 Active Living members, who were enthralled.
Last week culminated in a very inspirational performance at Westdown/Asham: Artmusic’s ‘ECHO’ sculpture and sound installation on Saturday 22nd Aug was animated by live performances of Artmusic’s ‘BLAST’ – a theatrical response to the rock and mechanics of quarrying, with specially composed trumpet music being played from locations which echoed around the quarry. We had a great turn out and the audience seemed to really enjoy the unique show and setting. “A delightful melange of live and recorded fluttering trumpets grab our attention this way and that while butterflies flit among the stones…. As they move slowly up the valley from stone to stone, always edging closer to melody, we begin to follow, or not, or meander above and below. ..” Caroline Radcliffe
People brought picnics, dogs, cameras, sketchbooks and the sun was scorching all day!
Can’t wait to download Ralph Hoyte’s GPS Soundwalk ‘ANTICLINE‘ – now available for your smartphone before visiting Westdown.
Hope you can visit soon!
Fiona Campbell 24/8/15
“The morning’s baldness dissected the straight line of horizon. He raised his head and saw the arc of the bitter flight as petrels sheered out of the Atlantic on the tilt of the crystalline plane; and the waters streamed off it down to an infinity where Choughs ran red-legged and inchoate in their golden, golden cage. He swerved his gaze: landwards! And the sea hauled him back: come rest in my bosom, come suck and gnaw with me at the stubborn land. Then all will be sea and all will be sea and all will be at sea; and all will have returned, free as dolphins who, so many aeons ago, faced the same choice and chose. Can we say we chose right?”
(from ANTICLINE – GPS-triggered located smartphone work for Westdown Quarry)
Sometimes I think ‘hey, you’re supposed to be a poet – so what’s with all this digi-stuff???’
Currently laying out GPS-triggered walk-poem ANTICLINE thru’ Westdown Quarry (goes live 15 Aug). This involves:
- writing the poem-text
- recording the poem-text (main voice: me; other voices: synthesized)
- editing the recordings (in Audacity or Ableton Live)
- processing the recordings in Ableton Live (above screenshot left of screen)
- converting the recordings to mp3s (takes up less space in app)
- composing the final mp3 soundfiles into the landscape (ie configuring the experience-design taking topographical considerations and features into account, as well as how long it should take an average walker to walk across a sound-region. In this case the mediascape is linear, which means it must ‘make sense’ both ways – there, and back)
- testing the simulation in-house
- testing on-site
- lots of swearing
The actual process is fascinating and can get obsessive: instead of composing onto a scoresheet, or even by feel, you’re composing into a real landscape: you’re overlaying a virtual soundworld onto a real place which can only be heard in that place – nowhere else on earth. You have to decide whether there are scattered soundpools which have to be ‘hunted’, or whether it’s a continuous experience (in this case it’s continuous); you have (as above) to consider how long an average person will take to walk through the soundpool; that they may not walk thru’ it at all, but simply stop and listen until it finishes (how does this affect the experience?); whether to loop the tracks – which leads to one kind of experience; or simply play them once only; are they to be programmed enter/play/keep playing on departure, or enter/play/fade out (or stop) on departure/start again at same place on re-entry/start at beginning again on re-entry? What sounds do you want to place on which topographical features? What sounds are there there already? Do soundpools overlap, and if so, what does it sound like?
RALPH HOYTE 29 July 2015
RALPH HOYTE: Battened down the hatches and got seriously down to the actual act of creation this week (impending deadlines always help inspiration, of course). I’m creating SYNCLINE in Fairy Cave Quarry with my frequent collaborator Phill Phelps (audio engineer, coder, musician). It all started with me saying to Phill, ‘hey, how about hanging autonomous speaker units off the rim of the cliffs and beaming sound into the quarry?’ (see earlier entries).
So far we’ve bought most of the gubbins: 6 megaphones (more waterproof than conventional speakers, being made of metal), the mp3 player circuit boards, the wiring etc. We’re waiting on the bike batteries to drive the things – held up in China, I believe.
So much for the hardware. The software, in this case, is the poemscripts I’m writing. ‘Poemscripts’? The technology, that is to say the form, decides the content. Let’s say I wrote a conventional poem and simply divided it into 6 parts, or voices. You’d have 6 voices possibly overlapping each other. This would be mere cacophony. So the point is, how to compose for 6 ‘voices’ in this setting. I decided to set up 6 buckets, theme them, then simply dump all material pertaining to that theme into that bucket. Current buckets are:
- Fluid (refers to the nature of the material, not a description of the content. The voice is fluid)
- Intelligence (on themes of ‘what is intelligence’)
- Lists (of relevance to the two quarries)
- Oracle (oracles lived in caves and prophesised)
- Quarries (related to these particular quarries)
No human voices were abused in the making of this work. They are all synthesised. Each ‘theme’ has a synthesized voice. The synthesised voices were virtually auditioned (which led to some rather amusing conversations, e.g.: Ralph: where’s Ana? Phill: she’s downloading. Ralph: tell her to get a move on, we haven’t got all night! Phill: OK, she’s downloaded – but whatiszname … Ralph: Oliver, English Oliver – Phill: he needs upgrading, that’s the old voice, let me get his updated voice…)
So far we’ve got:
- Veena: Indian, female: lists
- Moira: Irish, female:
- Kate: English RP: geology
- Alice (a-lee-che): Italian, female: Latin & intelligence
- Susan: American: fluid
- Chantal: French: quarries
- Oliver: Standard English: Oracle1
- Alex: American, female: Oracle2
- Fiona: Scottish: possible fluid
- Kyoko: standby
Each quarry/medium of delivery demands a different mix. SYNCLINE in Fairy Cave is fractured, often broken, gnostic, hermeneutic. Not only do we have a quarry, where things which were not meant (!) to be seen lie exposed to the sun, the air, the gaze; also things here were smashed up, pulverized, blown apart, make up our roads, we drive Mercedes GLA45 AMG 4MATIC’s on them; but also: SYNCLINE – the earth in her groanings moved, she fractured the rocks, they were made molten, or lay flat and serene whilst the millennia snowed calcium on them. So the words are fractured, groaning, the millennia have sowed inconformity in them, things have intruded on their reverie, the notes are incongruous, scatty, effluvial…
Delivery is ‘in progress’. The mp3 readers are just … mp3 readers, They don’t do fancy stuff, they just read file1, read file2, read file3. So we sow ‘blank’ (silent) files in amongst them. The amount of silence depends on the nature of the voice. So Veena, for example, takes 8 hours to finish her list, and only then loops. Susan is more vocal. But we have to sow enough silence in amongst the files so that the chances of cacophony are small (but cacophony is sometimes good). Then we simulated on Ableton Live. Then we turned some down so you get the effect of the megaphone nearest you is loudest (of course), and the others are at various distances (which they will be, depending on where they are aimed). Then we considered the level of each, so we’d know how close you have to get to a megaphone to hear it. Then we put an echo on some. Then we decided we were tired and there were too many variables to code, so we went and cooked supper and drank cider.
ANTICLINE in Westdown is for a different media: GPS triggered smartphone media. So people will walk through the quarryscape. Will you expect ‘a story’. Maybe you’ll get one, maybe Discobolous will eject his head from the bedrock and stagger forth. I don’t know, I’m currently writing it, I don’t know what he’ll want to do, say. Maybe nothing. Voices? They haven’t spoken, yet.
Ralph Hoyte 16/7/15
[Ralph Hoyte posts] I am a Bristol-based poet, writer and producer of GPS-triggered locative media. I deal in the live voice – mine, or multi-voice set-ups, set, er, somewhere, somehow. I write, sometimes, ‘poetry’ (whatever that is), more often, ‘poem-scripts’, often heavily research/historically/cultural-historically-based. I deliver them live, or through ‘locative media for the smartphone’, or through any other means to hand (such as Raspberry Pi powered sculptures responding to user input through touch or light). I often work closely with Phill Phelps, coder and audio-engineer, on the technical aspects of such projects.
For step in stone I am working on a triptych of sound interventions which all feed off the same poemscript; SYNCLINE , ANTICLINE, AND PROCLINE.
The poemscript is recorded (2 or 3 voices, probably my voice and 1 or 2 synthesized voices), placed on an SD card inserted into a mini-mp3 player circuit board, played back through a megaphone (it’s waterproof), whole thing driven by, essentially, a motorbike battery. There are 5 or 6 such autonomous assemblages. They are hung off the edges of the cliffs in ‘The Amphitheatre’. Each unit has a different ‘personality’. The SD card is loaded with poemtext, possibly ambient, and … silence. At any one time you get poemtext, ambient, or silence. Six of these doing that, each with its different personality, creates the soundwalk as you perambulate around the floor of the Amphitheatre (keeping well away from the walls!). I like serendipity. There will also be a nightwalk.
A GPS-triggered soundwalk for the smartphone: ‘pools of sound’ are virtually placed along the ‘figure-of-eight’ walk around Westdown Quarry (think that man on the TV add who stumbled across a red circle on the ground: when he stepped into it, he heard music, when he stepped out of it, it stopped. Remove the red circle. That’s it) You download the app, go to Westdown and turn it on. When your phone encounters a pool of sound you’ll hear the audio for that ‘virtual red circle’ (and, no, it doesn’t need a network signal). Of course, it’s more elaborate than that ‘red circle’ scenario: you can make the audio in the soundpools do different things; you can also, interestingly, ‘stack-up’ the soundpools, or overlap them. Who knows what happens when you overlayer 3 zones?
For starters, the word ‘procline’ doesn’t really exist (see, WordPress underlined it in red. It doesn’t exist), and, if it did, it’s not, unlike ‘syncline’ and ‘anticline’, a geological word. Never mind. Maybe I’ll rename them ‘syncline’, ‘synform’ and ‘syntax’. Whatever it’s called, PROCLINE is going to be a gallery-piece consisting of (probably) a geological specimen drawer thing with 3 drawers. When you pull out Drawer 1, audio channel 1 is activated; ditto 2, ditto 3. What you hear of the common poemscript depends on how many drawers you’ve pulled out/pushed back in, and in what order. To add another layer of serendipity,we may programme it so the audio-files associated with each drawer are chosen by the mini-computer driving the whole thing. In the drawers may be … stuff, resonating with the quarries. So it’s visual and tactile and user-directed.