Shetland Islands, UK
Why do I want to participate?
I became highly sensitised to noise in the late 1980s when an extractor fan was installed by well known delivery pizza company in the floorboards of my bed-sit in London. I have made work subsequently on the theme of noise, and I'm very interested in the effect noise has on our well being. I have been involved with Shetland since 1985 and moved to the islands permanently in 2000, in part because I thought it would be a "quiet" environment. I love the idea of noise challenges and am thrilled to participate.
End. Peroration. I made noise in an underground car park, and then moved to a lift. Dissatisfied, I started to encourage people to sing. My mother sang Happy Birthday three times. Then her cousin came to visit and I got him to sing in public. My aunt is a wonderful soloist, but my recording of her failed utterly to convey the beauty of her voice. I ran out of time. Peroration. I wanted to end with something beautiful, but I didn’t like all the words in David’s song. So I tried many versions of ways to cloud some of the lyrics with other sounds I made and collected. I’ve enjoyed the noise challenges, they’ve stretched my experience and skills, so I’ve learned a lot. Thank you.
p.s. “peroration” is ‘the concluding part of a discourse and especially an oration’.
Noise Challenge 9
Saturday afternoon. In all the other noise challenges I thought a lot about meaning, whereas with this one I just listened to everything around me without worrying about what it meant. I was struck by the noise that is almost constant for all 24 hours of the day and night during Simmer Dim, Shetlanders’ way of describing the white nights of summer. It is an energised, highly charged time of year, with lots of activity to go with all the light. It’s both quiet and wild, a mix of nature and man.
I’m not myself this week. My hard drive died for the third time in just ten months, so I have been forced to use my very ancient laptop which is so old I’ve had to use seriously limited editing software. I am lost without my laptop.
I decided to “speak” my portrait! My questions and thoughts are punctuated by my favourite background accompaniment which reflects my penchant for using the Internet to tune in round the world.
This little sound sketch begins with the alert I receive for new emails arriving in my inbox, and it ends with the sound they make as my reply is sent. After I got bored with recording the sounds of the alerts, I started to record my keyboard sounds as I typed replies to my emails. The tap of each letter is in itself a cue.
I hate the idea of eavesdropping. I don’t want to listen to other people’s conversations without their consent, and I don’t want others to intrude upon me in this way. Equally, I abhor secrecy; and I despise the acts of espionage and surveillance. I was horrified by my realisation that while I may find the act of eavesdropping repugnant and unethical, perhaps it is becoming obsolete as we increasingly bring our private lives into the public realm.
I feel that I should provide some explanation for this sound piece. Eavesdropping gives me the creeps, so I wanted to make something that reflected the way it makes me feel, i.e. creepy. I used the sound from a film I shot somewhat surrepetitiously of a friend’s child singing a tune, “ding, ding, ding”. Because my friends didn’t know I was filming, nor that I would use the soundtrack for this Noise Challenge, I feel it is a sort of ”eavesdropping”.
Casino noise completely assaults my senses, bombarding me from all directions. It is deafening, deadening and almost comforting as it numbs me into an illusion of escape. The constant clamour of false hope and greed epitomises my sense of America just now.
Somehow I didn’t get this challenge until quite late this week, so I have only started listening to the music today. I chose Handel’s Passacaglia (after the Passacaille from the Harpsichord Suite No. 7 in G minor) played by Lynn Harrell and Nigel Kennedy.
I actually enjoyed listening to it repeatedly. The incessant repetition was almost soothing. It reminded me of what it feels like to care for and spend time with my mother, who has dementia. When I am with her, everything seems repetitive until a totally unpredictable glitch kicks in. My life with her is full of surprises, sometimes infuriatingly frustrating, but also meaningful and interesting.
My mother can’t remember most of the present very well at all. Routine and repetition characterise my time with her. I am hoping to use this Challenge to begin to try to make something of the repetition in her questions and thoughts by recording our conversations at meals and in the waiting rooms for medical appointments.
Some of her stories make her light up with enthusiasm as she recounts them. Her relentless questions stress me but don’t seem to worry her. So far I’ve not been quick enough to capture many of those moments when she enjoys her own memory.
I recorded sounds in a hotel room that was empty until I arrived. I imagined I was surrounded by other rooms that were empty, then became occupied only to become empty once again. The longer I worked on the edit, I realised that it brought back memories from young adolescence.
My alarm clock is a sound I ignore, or try to ignore, granting it insignificance every time I hear it.
Textiles, particularly knitted, are historically one of Shetland’s main industries. Shetland knitting epitomises the fusion of tradition and innovation. Different generations of knitters come together at Shetland College, University of the Highlands and Islands, to share, learn and produce new textiles from hand knitting, weaving and the latest industrial technologies available in their Textiles Facilitation Unit.