I think my work is almost about nothing, It’s just about being there – anywhere – being a witness from the point of view of an artist. Richard Long
Having just had two years of very intensive working, I felt the need to step back from the direction my practice has taken and continues to take. I’d been immersed with video and sound installation which both, together and apart, seem very natural outlets for my creative energy. For the Cooper Summer Residency at DJCAD I decided to work on sound installation, aimed to develop my field recording practice, and to help my confidence with presenting this kind of audio material within a gallery and installation context.
I had heard of the mountain Schiehallion as a child on summer holidays in Perthshire and climbed the Munro in 2010 for the first time. Shiehallion is in the middle of the country and is one of the few mountains to have an almost symmetrical pyramidal peak if viewed from one side. The other side slopes up in a long ascent.
I remembered vaguely some scraps of information about an experiment happening on the slopes of the mountain in the 19th century and set out to find out more during the residency. A group of geologists affiliated to the Royal Society of London set up three research stations on Schiehallion’s slopes with the aim to measure the mass of the mountain peak. It was thought that if this could be calculated by measuring longitude and latitude distances, then the mass of the Earth could be calculated my a ratio.
I was unsuccessful in finding out if the geologists were successful.
I did climb the mountain again.
My assumption that the experiment was a failure, a moment in time that is now assigned to the records of the Royal Society of London, was what inspired me to visit the mountain and convey my own experience of Schiehallion on a day in July 2011. With a field recorder I walked and recorded as I went; water, ambiance, birds, space, distance. I thought it would be windy but on that day it was so still, at times there was no breath in the air. I felt the sounds were travelling across the vast moor landscape to my ears alone. Everything felt far away and yet, close enough to have been waiting thousands of years for my arrival that day. I hesitate to say, but there was a feeling of the sublime on that day as I sat on stones and looked out and listened to nothing and everything.
My installation has three sides, like the mountain; the three come together to form a pyramid with speakers underneath the structure. The sounds I collected are split into three channels of sound, coming from three speakers. Within the gallery you can travel around the object, and as you do so, the audio emerges and returns to silence. Contemplation to take you somewhere else…or perhaps onto Schiehallion or another mountain in another moment in time that is your own.
A framing and a rendering of something.
Providing an insight to a particular experience of a moment in time, a specific place or a particular event or occurrence.
An engagement with culture and history through researching a specific situation.
…something happened in the past (a historical event, childhood experience). Portraying a contemporary rendering of the event or place.
Kelly, C., (2011) Sound: Documents of Contemporary Art. Published by the Whitechapel Gallery, London and MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Charles Mason, Jeremiah Dixon and the Royal Society. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Oct., 1956). Published by The Royal Society, accessed 07/07/11 http://www.jstor.org/stable/3087260
John Macculloch, M.D., F.R.S., and His Geological Map of Scotland: His Years in the Ordinance. 1795 – 1826. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Aug., 1981). Published by The Royal Society, accessed 07/07/11 http://www.jstor.org/stable/531659
Gibson, D., (2010) Joseph Beuys 40th Anniversary Journey to The Moor of Rannoch and the Road to the Isles. Published by Studio International, accessed 21/07/11 http://www.studio-international.co.uk/reports/Dema…