News Archive: Dungeness

Coach direct to Variable 4 Snape Maltings

For the day of the Snape Maltings installation, we’re delighted to once more be operating a direct coach journey from London Liverpool Street to the site of Variable 4 and Faster Than Sound: Soundfields. At less than half the cost of a train ticket, and running direct to Snape Maltings, it should hopefully save visitors time and money, and provide a memorable day trip to the Suffolk countryside melded seamlessly with cutting-edge sound art.

Book your coach ticket here. Bookings are done securely through Paypal, with a limited number of discounted early-bird tickets for those quick off the mark.

Journey to Variable 4 Dungeness, May 2011. Photo: Andreas Tovan.

Journey to Variable 4 Dungeness, May 2011.
Photo: Andreas Tovan.


In preparation for next month’s Faster Than Sound, we’ve been doing some analysis of the local area’s weather data from past years, to gain some insight into what the conditions are likely to be on the day. The gratifying part of this is producing graphical visualisations of weather patterns, which can often be aesthetically beautiful as well as useful for understanding underlying structure.

Here are a couple from last year’s research at Dungeness, representing the distribution of wind direction over a month:



In looking into online approaches, we came across Weatherspark, which is an incredibly full-featured tool to look into current and historical meteorological trends around the world. It includes data from a weather station not too far from Aldeburgh, and can be filtered by numerous attributes: wind speed and direction, sun hours, temperature, dew point, humidity, precipitation, and more.

Screen shot 2011-04-28 at 21.27.03

It allows data from different stations to also be compared, and – in a really nice feature – generates written weather forecasts for any given day. Check it out for May 28th.

Variable 4 at FTS: Soundfields, Snape Maltings

We’re delighted to finally bring news of further Variable 4 happenings. This May, almost twelve months on precisely, we’ll be taking the piece to new terrain courtesy of Faster Than Sound and Aldeburgh Music.

As part of FTS: Soundfields, the work will be alongside as Bruce Gilbert, Beaconsfield ArtWorks and the fantastic Blast Theory, making a triumvirate of immersive sonic art. Sited on the expansive reed fields beyond the Snape Maltings concert hall, Suffolk (local map, google map), it will be in striking contrast to the desolation of Dungeness.

We’re currently in the midst of rewriting the score from ground up, developing new algorithmic methods to link together distant parts of the piece, and in the studio with a number of fantastic musicians. More reports on this in the coming weeks.

FTS: Soundfields

Finally, we’ll be previewing Variable 4 prior to Faster Than Sound with an afternoon-long installation in London. This will be taking place sometime in early May, near to the digital studios at Goldsmiths, University of London. Dates will be confirmed very shortly.

The Freesound Project


We’re big fans of the Freesound Project here at Variable 4. The project is run by the Music Technology Group of Pompeu Fabra University in Spain.

We’ve decided to share our current archive of field recordings that we created for the Dungeness installation on May 22nd 2010.

You can download and listen to the field recordings under Creative Commons license here.

We’ll be updating this page with more recordings as the research period for our next installation gets underway. More news about that coming shortly!

Field recordings from Dungeness

A set of field recordings, made in and around Dungeness by Giles Stogdon – part of our research for the Variable 4 installation on Dungeness beach, May 2010.

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Images of Dungeness : Installation Landscapes

A selection of our favourite landscape photographs taken during the Dungeness installation.


Photo : Havva Basto

Dungeness Shore - Andreas Tovan

Photo : Andreas Tovan


Photo : Louis Mustill


Photo : Andreas Tovan

a great short docu-film of the Variable 4 installation in Dungeness courtesy of Rich Millington –

Documentary Film

A lovely short film of the May installation of Variable 4 in Dungeness made by Rich Millington, who travelled up by coach to experience the event.

thanks to all who came down on saturday, we had a whale of a time. missing dungeness already.

RT @DungenessRNLI Dungeness RNLI Lifeboat Station in Kent, UK is now on Twitter, latest shouts and other information will be posted here.

just had a charming message from the estate of derek jarman expressing their well wishes for the piece. oh, dungeness!

RNLI Dungeness

With its exposed location and amplified speakers, Variable 4 is reliant on having a nearby source of power and shelter. We’re fortunate enough to have both of these things provided for us by RNLI Dungeness, who have been endlessly generous with their time and resources in the development of the project. It’s no exaggeration to say that the installation would not be possible without them in anything like its current form.

The station guards the busy Dover Strait between Folkestone and Rye Bay, in the latest of many incarnations since its inception in 1826. Founded just 2 years after the formation of the RNLI itself, the station’s history is documented in an e-book available on their website: The History of the Dungeness Lifeboats.

Anybody joining us at the weekend will undoubtedly meet several of the crew; they will also be on hand with tea and coffee, providing another vital public service!

nuclear reactor cutaways: Dungeness B (via @michael_killbot)

Nuclear Reactor Cutaway: Dungeness B

Couldn’t resist posting this cutaway diagram of Dungeness B, part of the “World’s Reactors” series. You’ll be unable to miss the outline of its exterior on the Dungeness landscape, but — since tours were stopped a few years back, in the wake of September 11 — you’ll be much less likely to glimpse its innards.


Image © NEI magazine, via BibliOdyssey.

Incidentally, in Ken Oiller’s “Dungeness Remembered”, a memoir of a life spent in the area, there’s a brilliant account of the well-known local phenomenon of “The Boil”: a frothing area of hot water fuelled by the coolant outlet of the reactor. The extra warmth apparently drives massive bio-diversity in The Boil, and with it a significant increase in fish populations, making it an incredibly popular spot for the local fisherman.

images of dungeness: fishing and flotsam.

Images of Dungeness: Fishing and flotsam

Coach tickets now available for booking

We’re very glad to have just opened bookings for cheap coach returns to Dungeness for visitors to Variable 4. Departure is scheduled from London Victoria at 11am, Saturday 22 May, and returning at 6pm in the evening, with a journey time of around 2 hours each way. We hope that this will also provide ample time to explore the local area and say hello to the RNLI crew, who will be manning the nearby station.

Tickets can be booked here using PayPal, for £7.50 return. Visiting the installation is, of course, free.


The coach won’t, unfortunately, be one of these splendid Routemasters, but we couldn’t resist posting this photograph nonetheless.

KEF tour

To Maidstone this morning, visiting the Kent Engineering Foundry – better known as KEF – who invited us down to discuss weatherproof speakers. As a top name amongst the audiophile community, we were looking forward to auditioning their Ventura outdoor range as a candidate for next month’s installation. What we hadn’t anticipated was a comprehensive tour of their facilities, encompassing a museum of KEF’s engineering achievements since the 1960s, plus their Acoustic Laboratory, featuring anechoic chamber and all manner of analysis equipment.

Aside from their plaudits in the engineering world, we’re really pleased to be able to work with local technology: KEF’s home is just 40 miles down the road from Dungeness, in Maidstone, Kent, where they’ve been located since their inception in 1961.

sounds like @RNLI Dungeness had a callout just a few hours after we met them on sunday:

Development trip, 11 April 2010

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.

following a wonderful meetup with @RNLI Dungeness, this outbuilding is set to house our hardware. whoop!

beautiful image of the third of five dungeness lighthouses, constructed in 1884 from corrugated metal

one homemade hydrophone, accompanying us today to record the dungeness shoreline

guide to building a blindingly simple DIY hydrophone. can you guess what’s planned for the next dungeness journey?

Location map

Map of the installation site and surrounding area, from Ordnance Survey Explorer Map #125.

Nearby landmarks include: