Frozen Sound

Frozen Sound.

Frozen Sound consists of six loudspeakers set into cored slate boulders, which act as resonant enclosures, these are sited along the course of a small beck in the forest. Sound is channelled to these from a unit housing six EPROM audio samplers/amplifiers, powered by a battery/photovoltaic panel.

A microphone placed in front of each speaker/boulder was used to make six recordings of the beck prior to the completion of the work. Six sounds of the river have been 'frozen' in time within the sound samplers. The work also explores the linear spatial dynamics of sound along the streambed.

The stone enclosures allude to Pythagorean acertation of stone being sound frozen in time. The sound element of the work will be ongoing. The samples are easily replaced, allowing the sounds with each source to be 'updated' periodically, perhaps on a seasonal basis.

The installation also contains a chaotic playback dynamic. The levels of light in the forest modulate the sequencing of sounds and thus its distribution within space. The pulse trigger for each sampler is independently attached to a light sensor altering the number of times that sound is triggered over the day.

I was worried at first by the potentially adverse impact a sound piece would have on the forest environment. In part this led me to use the existing sound ecology as a basis for the work. The first recordings were made during the middle of winter when there was little birdsong, however I imagine replacing them with sounds recorded during early spring could create territorial confusion amongst the locals.

One of the most surprising aspects of the work is that the ears appear to normalise themselves to the new 'false' amplitude of the running water whilst the installation is operating. However as the power is supplied is valuable it is activated by a PIR with a global timer which switches all the samplers off after 3 minutes. The consequence of this is to plunge the sound space into a kind of sonic vacuum, as suddenly only the 'live' sound of the stream is heard. This in itself creates a strangely inverted focus to ones listening.

The work also explores the linear spatial dynamics of sound along the streambed. Each sample has been recorded with a slow attack and decay time, which creates the illusion of sound moving up and down the course of the stream. Walking towards the installation along the forest path can also surprise the careful listener as there are curious dead spots of low sound levels and changes in equalisation that appear at certain points along the path, trees and shrubs seem to filter the sound in their own way as well.

Whilst recording the audio sources, a passing light aeroplane added its drone to the mix. When this section of audio is replayed, almost without fail people observing the work, look to the sky....