Here in Aldeburgh, the first couple of days of setup have been arduous but fun. Thanks to herculean efforts, we’ve now got speaker trenches dug, circuitous cable runs laid, an operational weather station, an ad hoc surround-sound mixing room with iOS remote controls, a networked outhouse via festooned CAT-5, some lightboxed signage and — imminently — a beautifully-printed artists book to mark and document the installation.
To integrate Variable 4 seamlessly into the landscape, we've opted for the route of embedding the speakers into the ground with individual chambers. This has meant some heavy excavation into some very dry ground. Many thanks to Dave, Louis and Tom for some major earth shifting.
The first complete ground-embedded speaker chamber.
Dave and Louis wade through the mire of speaker cabling.
No network access is available in the Dovecote studio. Thanks to some heroics from Faster Than Sound's Tom, however, we're now the proud operators of an airborne CAT5 network.
Our composition space in the Dovecote.
Wiring up the weather station in heavy gales.
More circuitous cabling, here deploying the weather station's data cable across a reed field.
We’re departing early tomorrow morning to spend a week’s residency at Aldeburgh, to install, develop and fine-tune the piece in situ. To assemble the requisite vanload of materials and equipment without losing the remnants of our sanity, we’ve created the longest kit list known to humankind. Behold.
Much of the development of Variable 4 has taken place at Goldsmiths, University of London, split between the multiple studios of the EMS (former home to Daphne Oram and much pioneering electronic synthesis) and the GDS (new home to a cutting-edge motion capture setup with 3D audio and projections). We’ve also received logistical funding from the Goldsmiths Annual Fund, an excellent endeavour to support a diverse range of projects through alumnal donations.
We thus thought it apt to select Goldsmiths as the site of a showcase and public testbed for the installation, over the course of 6 hours yesterday. This turned out to be an invaluable dry run for the newly-enlarged score and algorithmic setup, and attracted a number of inquisitive visitors.
Beholding the prospect of an afternoon's cable-sorting. Much of our setup and multichannel mixing has been done here in the Goldsmiths Electronic Music Studios, formerly home to the likes of Daphne Oram and her radiophonic peers.
Wiring up one of the eight weatherproof speakers, under camouflage of shrubbery.
Dealing with health and safety issues. Thanks to Ollie (pictured) for his invaluable help with installation logistics.
Back in the installation HQ. Organisation nerds take note of our cunning alphabetical colour-coding technique: blue (1), brown (2), green (3), green-yellow (4), grey (5), orange (6), red (7), yellow (8).
The installation up and running.
Weather station detail: Wind vane and anemometer.
Weather station detail: Pyranometer.
field testing at @GoldsmithsUoL. lovely moment when field recording of dungeness birds met the birds of new cross. http://twitpic.com/4zocv7
Thursday, 19 May 2011
We’ve been in Suffolk over the past couple of days on a research and development trip for Faster Than Sound: Soundfields, making measurements and planning the installation logistics. Though it’s an idyllic landscape, we inadvertently picked a suitably blustery moment to visit, with winds of 25mph thwarting some of our less-shielded microphones.
The first peek of the installation site itself, on the Hepworth Lawn. Our next-door neighbour will thus be Barbara Hepworth's bronze sculpture "Family of Man" (1970).
It's crucial that we don't underestimate the distance of convoluted speaker cabling to remote locations.
The debris-strewn Dungeness was a gift as regards integrating speakers into the landscape. Here, we're taking a different tack, digging into the earth and embedding our eight channels below ground level.
The Britten-Pears Library at Snape Maltings is a vast archive of music scores and texts. Like seemingly every room on the site, it also packs a number of Steinways, and a beautiful harpsichord.
We also took the opportunity to make a number of environmental field recordings, which will be appearing here shortly.
A constructive Sunday on the coast, meeting the team from RNLI Dungeness – who are supporting Variable 4 with infrastructure and local know-how – and making some speculative field recordings.
Blue skies above the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's station, one of 238 around the UK, and operated entirely by volunteers.
Meeting the crew of RNLI Dungeness.
Amongst many other kind pledges of support, RNLI Dungeness have granted us access to this outbuilding for the duration of the installation - invaluable for keeping our hardware dry!
Our first trials of outdoor playback, with extremely promising results - an extraordinarily clean sound, despite the blustering wind. Here, we are recording a blast of white noise played into the air, which will allow us to gauge the filtering effects of the environment. Unfortunately, this led to the sad demise of this poor 40w speaker's tweeter.
Accompanying us on this trip was Giles, who is generously assisting us with field recordings.
The 11:00 departure on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. We were later told the tale of a Luftwaffe pilot who, after sighting a diminutive RHD train from above, returned to France reporting that his altimeter was surely faulty.
Having only visited Dungeness outside of the summer months, it was a pleasure to see a blue sky.
Marking the central point of the installation, approximately 120 metres from the RNLI outhouse.