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I have great pleasure in announcing that this blog has recently been voted ‘Best Artist’s Blog of 2010’ by the Arts Media Contacts organisation.   Of course, this is wonderful news and has given the project a very welcome new lease of life.  As a result of this the project has now been featured on numerous sites across Europe and Asia, from the Liverpool Daily Post to the Israeli ZooZ Magazine.

Because of this increased interest, I have decided to open up the possibility for people beyond the City of Armagh to purchase our limited edition Armaghoclock CD (lasting exactly one hour and featuring all the sounds as they would be heard in the installation) as well as the even more limited edition hardback book.  For further information, please email your interest here.

Nearly a year in the making, the project has involved a wide cross-section of life in Armagh as we have sought to understand the City through the ears of those who live there and record our sonic minutes for our virtual timepiece.  At every stage of the way, people have been supportive of the project, and the variation of the sounds that are featured in the work really reflect the generousity of everyone’s  time in helping us capture the different sounds.

The recordings range from the intimate to the well-known – from pre-natal ultrasound to grave digging – referencing local trades, leisure and nature.  A visual element in the centre of the gallery provides a guide for listening, and together the sounds combine to give their own account of the City’s identity, the people within it, and our changing soundscape.

The work will be on show at  the Main Gallery at the Market Place Theatre, in Armagh from Friday 16th April until the Saturday 15th May, 2010.

 

Building on his previous work in investigating different soundscapes, Robert Jarvis has been working in tandem with Northern Ireland artist Julie McGowan to create a new sound artwork based on the sounds collected from the City of Armagh.  The work takes the form of a virtual timepiece utilising the whole of the Main Gallery space, and playing a different sound recorded from around the City every minute.

With the aid of twelve loudspeakers positioned around the gallery in similar manner to the numbers around the circumference of a clock face, each of the sounds pans around the gallery space imitating the sweep of a clock’s second hand.  The recordings range from the intimate to the well-known – from pre-natal ultrasound to grave digging – referencing local trades, leisure and nature.  Together, they combine to give their own account of the City’s identity, the people within it, and our changing soundscape.

getting technical

Currently I am experimenting with different setups to play the sound installation.  My plan is that armaghoclock will make use of twelve loudspeakers positioned around the gallery in similar manner to the numbers around the circumference of a clock face.  Each sound will begin at the “Twelve O’Clock position and then pan around the gallery space imitating the sweep of a clock’s secondhand.  When it has done its full revolution, the next sound will start, and so on.

almost there…

With all sixty sounds recorded, cleaned, edited and posted on this site, armaghoclock is now poised to move into its next stage.

We began collecting our sonic minutes over six months ago, not really knowing where the project would take us.  We knew that we wanted to speak with people who lived in the City to find out how they thought about their soundscape and we were especially interested in documenting those sounds that we felt in some way said something about life in Armagh.  Since that time we have met a wide range of people, all of whom have been generous with their time as well as enthusiastic to support our quest.  We have gone to prison, entered astronomical domes, waded through rivers and climbed bell towers; we have met sportsmen, scientists, talking birds, nurses, shop owners and even the local grave digger.  All had their own sound and all had a story to tell….

Over the next few months I will begin designing the actual physical sound installation itself, working with the recordings, collecting the necessary audio equipment, and testing the installation ready for exhibition in the Market Theatre Arts Centre‘s  Main Gallery next April.

acoustic design

08 composing

Not all of Armagh’s sounds happen at random.  In fact most have a pattern to them – in the sense that they generally occur at a certain time of day or under certain circumstances.  In this sense, therefore, it is possible to think of the City’s soundscape as a sort of musical score – not in order for one to direct the sounds, but certainly as an aid to retrospectively understand them.

The inference, of course, is that anyone who contributes to this composition by making any sort of sound is therefore also a musician within this score.  And also, that the people who have specific responsibility for the design of the City and therefore the sounds that emanate as a result (for example, those involved in urban regeneration, management of population density, organisation of green spaces, traffic flow, and so on) are actually the piece’s composers.

Now, it’s obvious that as the City is being regenerated a lot of thought is being put into how the centre of Armagh looks.  I wonder though how much musical training these planners have?

send us a postcard!

pick a card, any card....

The postcards are well-and-truly distributed throughout the city now. We have been back to many of the places that have so far contributed sounds and given them their own cards in order to also encourage others to become involved, as well as letting them have a CD of their sonic minute. The theatre has also agreed to give the postcards out to their audiences, and so this will also greatly help to spread the word.

On the front desk of the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre we have a collection box for people to put their completed suggestions for further recordings, and so we will be looking forward to seeing what sort of public response this generates….

call for sounds

06 call for sounds

As Julie and I have been collecting the various ‘minutes’ for our Armaghoclock installation we have been delving deeper into Armagh culture, and as a result we are meeting some quite extraordinary people who have a passion for the City and what goes on there.  We now have quite a list of recordings to do, and so there is much work that needs to be done.

Today we also have extended our call for sounds to the local newspapers in order to help us reach our target of sixty sounds and ensure that our work is as representative as possible.  We have also had 5000 postcards printed up to be distributed throughout the City over the next month to further encourage people to jot down their recommended sound to be featured in the final installation.

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