At the end of May I went to Falkland in Fife, about an hour north of Edinburgh, to visit a series of sound and video installations by artists Louise K Wilson and David Chapman. Several works were installed in and around Falkland Palace and Falkland House.
The works were quite subtle, drawing out and re-focussing elements of the various places.
For example, one piece, Arcadia, was set up alongside an enormous tapestry lining a corridor. The artists had made recordings of various sounds in and around the local area based on what was depicted in the tapestry (birds, animals, a hunter on a horse). The sounds were played back through a six channel speaker system. It had the effect of bringing the tapestry alive – I found myself looking at it in more detail than I would otherwise have done as I tried to correlate what I was hearing and what I was seeing. I made a short recording of the piece, walking along the corridor with a Zoom H4n recorder in my hand. Click the link below to hear it.
There was also a video work which involved some experiments with reconstructive acoustic archaeology. This is the science of simulating what a now-defunct space would have sounded like in the past, based on what is known about its dimensions, building materials and so on. The space they had chosen for this was a small ruined building up a nearby hill, the intriguingly named Temple of the Decision.
I found that the results of this very fascinating, complex, labour intensive process were actually so subtle that they were difficult to detect. I suppose this makes sense. The Temple would have been a small stone room, so its acoustics probably wouldn’t have been particularly unusual. In my experience this is what experimental working is like – you get some ideas together, try things out and see how it sounds. Sometimes the results are dramatic, but more often they aren’t.
Louise and David will be presenting their work on this at the Sonic Methods session I’m organising at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference in September. More info on that here: