Katie Jo Anderson

Artist based in South West Scotland; interested in people, places, materials and collaborative practice.

Tag: Wave Decay

SOUND HORN | Wave Decay | SANCTUARY LAB 2017

Can an artwork retain an essence of the site-specific whilst re-locating?
Can a temporary artwork be a tool for exploring, or re-examining a site?

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The second installing of Wave Decay took place as part of Sanctuary Lab, a 24 hour experiment of sound, light and art in the Galloway Forest Park. The site I selected on recommendation, is the stunning and majestic McMoab Stones, for the most part solely used by Mountain Bikers with a taste for the adventurous, these beautiful granite rocks rise out of the landscape like huge stone whales. It is an awe-some location in all manner of meanings.

The work has been heavily redeveloped sculpturally, with a series of new speaker horns created as part of a VAACMA Award 2017, in sheet copper and aluminium. They were a joy to make and gave an interestingly alien shine on the place, like small space rockets that had landed in the landscape, reflecting the tones and colours of the granite, the trees, the sky.

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The conditions for Wave Decay 2017 were extreme, with heavy rain and strong winds – the site became increasingly exposed and wild as the morning continued as wet as it began. Wave Decay became an opportunity to watch the sheet rain move across the valley, and hear and feel the very essence of the place as a seeping cold, pervasive damp against all waterproofs.
The all pervading sound of Wave Decay echoing out through the rain lingers long after everything has dried out.

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With extreme conditions come a kind of extreme audience. Intrepid explorers intent on the destination appeared in twos and threes, wearing increasingly serious waterproofs and boots. We casually handed out transparent wedding brollies to hold back the rain from faces at least temporarily, and visitors moved cautiously at first, over the backs of whales – picking between the puddles and up to the ridges, as the sound moved over in a constant drone of sound.

The sound, whilst difficult to explain – even in situ – provides an opportunity to re-examine place through sound, as the everyday sounds are muted and replaced by constant tones that move with the visitor, the sound unique to each pair of ears, moving and waivering discreetly between the sculptures.

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It became apparent during it’s latest outing that Wave Decay is no longer the appropriate title, it started out as an exploration of decay in space and sound in the ruins of Milkbank near Lockerbie, but as it moved location clearly the name could not accurately move with it. The sound horns are the constant, and everything else adjusts in response to the site.

As the work moves on, it looks for both new sites and places to test, a new name – (perhaps the work needs to be renamed for each site, but to still have a sense of consistency across the installations), and potentially a new addition to the current sound. I would love to bring the sound of each site to following iterations of the work, and allow the sites, or ghosts of sites to work with the current tonal sounds. I would like to better share the human essence of the work, the playful exploration and the vocal ranges. The sound might like to be more human, or more animal – and better be able to share it’s sense of place. It’s a growing experiment, and I’m looking for new site locations, indoors and out, that could play host to Wave Decay’s Sound Horns. If you have ideas, responses or general interest please get in touch.

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Huge thank you to everyone who made the effort to join me out of the McMoab Stones in September on a dreich Sunday morning, to everyone I spoke to and those I did not, thank you. Also big thanks to Sanctuary Lab team, Robbie and Jo, to Michael, Matt, Colin, Mike and everyone who helped get the install up last minute, Justin for the international tech support help line, to the trusty Pick Up on it’s final mission, and to the funders for helping get this project off the ground.
This project has been supported by Sanctuary Lab 2017, and the South of Scotland Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards funded by Creative Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Live Borders.

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Wave Decay heads for Sanctuary

This is really a work about listening.
It is about what you hear before, during and afterwards.

It is about the act of listening, and about experiencing through listening.
It is about how we understand environment, through our audible landscapes.

It is about switching on and tuning in, in order to switch off.

Come and explore with me. Wave Decay will re-emerge from an indecisive few months of false starts ad uncertainty in it’s new beauty as an experiment in the wilds of Galloway as part of Sanctuary Lab. The installation will run from 10am on Sunday morning, 24th September, all are welcome. Full details available here, hope to see you there!

Wave Decay, Sanctuary Headed

Really excited to announce that Wave Decay will be making a second appearance, later this year at Sanctuary. Having first created the sound and sculptural installation in collaboration with Justin K Prim last summer for Milkbank House, (details available here) the work is now being redeveloped for a new location in the Galloway Forest Park.

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Full details about the project at Sanctuary here

In Memoriam

Our relationship with ex-houses is an interesting one. Buildings and ruins, scattered across overgrown fields and forests, down forgotten cul-de-sacs, and behind tall fences in gloomy urban areas; the romantic in us all pines for the loss of a thing that we never knew.

The empty home inspires tales of loss and separation, of a neglect and abandonment of the old ways. It is a kick in the teeth to the old ways and we as a culture appear to mourn these forgotten states.

The lost living rooms, the last dinners, the encroaching wilderness that wraps our forgotten ruins up in a shroud, fills our eyes with a jewel-dusted mysticism, and the placing of concept, the reimagining of ‘home’ in true Grand Design’s style – of rescuing, and reviving, performing true and authentic restoration to these crumbling pasts – is heralded in the act of preservation and protection of our culture.

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The places that fall outwith the realms of saving; be they too big, too ugly, in the wrong place geographically, or simply not special enough to warrant any real attention are left to quietly disperse into the undergrowth. To be swallowed up, imperceptibly slowly but the steady but inevitable creep of the wild.
These are our dreaming spaces.
Free for projection, imagination and a certain freedom of exploration – of wandering, exploring and discovering first hand (as has been discovered first hand by so many before you), the true wonders of this individual place that exists only here, and only for now.

Throughout my practice explorations of home, of place made familiar, and emotionally nested from the world at large, and these ruins of homes, monuments to the very idea of home at all, have featured from time to time.

My first intimate and extensive exploration of a site was in 2010, a small and extremely unknown location whom, if you can take confidence with any of the older (perhaps oldest) members of our local village, will tell you was once called Hilltop House, and was last lived in in a time beyond living memory, just. The last living man who was known to live there as a boy was himself an elder of the village in the 1950’s.

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The first experiment at Hilltop House was one of lighting. Once unoccupied, these ruins return to darkness with the fading of the suns daily rhythms, so late one Thursday in early April, we sat vigil in the remains of Hilltop House and filled the place with light. With precious few walls or roof, the sounds of the evening are welcomed in to the forgotten ruin, and the sparks may fly unabated. The whole thing was shot in black and white analogue film camera, (potentially romantic overkill), and accompanied by at least one large bottle of wine.

Other experiments included refurnishing, (carrying the entire contents of my parents living room along a half mile track through the woods), of filming and then recreating offsite in full size cardboard replica (not worth the effort), of projecting new memories and new ghosts – forcing life back into the corpse-house. Littered along the pathway en route to the house were found strange collections, under one tree a households worth of glass recycling, under another kitchen tiles – mostly in pieces – and within the remains of the house itself, a tree girthed tightly by the iron cast door of a once-stove front.

The last farewell to Hilltop House was given, with full ceremony and celebration – and the company of friends and family, gathered for what we expected to be the last dinner in Hilltop House. The fire lit in the fireplace’s remains, (the chimney less drawing, as guiding the fire) the meal was laid across white tablecloths, glasses toasted and food shared. At the conclusion each guest carried their own chair home with them along the woodland path.

The work was not well received by my art college tutors (perhaps because they were not invited), and the project came to it’s own natural conclusion. Hilltop House lay silent again.

In 2016, a new opportunity arose to revisit some of these themes. Milkbank is a somewhat grander affair. Known locally with a certain amount of tenderness, the tragedy of Milkbank – of such a beautifully crafted building left to disrepair after such a short time as a residential location, of the death of the son McIlDowie during the construction, and the shortened life of the first Bell-Irving for whom Milkbank was constructed. It is a place of local knowledge, and it is accepted as part of the local landscape, although it is absent from the maps and guides of the area, and was technically demolished in the 1950’s. This has been my home-monument.

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To bring life back, even temporarily to these empty and drafty buildings, to invite exploration, and intimate gatherings places the history of our culture out of the museum cabinets and into every day conversation and discovery. Potential and possibility arise from unexpected corners.

Interpreting or interacting with these places is one of balance, seeking neither to over power or be over taken by their own stagnant attraction. Issues of scale, colour, object, shape and material became my obsession.

Light is powerful. It rules our interactions,, our comfort-levels, it directs us and shapes our movements. Next time we’d like more light.

By removing one sense, we must entirely re-draw our understanding of our environment. Adjust our step and reinterpret place. Reverberations create new space where previously there was none, hidden between the cracks of the physical present. Acoustics are a big learning curve. Our understanding of sound is complex and mysterious.

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Dinner is of much more importance than it might seem. The trivial and the everyday also creates space, for new conversations, exchange and discovery. I may have forgotten the salt (and the spoons), but the act of sharing invites us all to participate together. Dinner is a potentially powerful art process.

Sound.Horn.

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During early Spring 2014 – yikes – I spent an intense month at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop. Taking time out of the everyday allowed for the pursuit of obsession. I started out without direction, walking daily and experiencing my new environment as a heightened, noticing light changes, wind movements, the bright, still winter sun shining almost warm in clear skies. My residency became a desire to create an instrument to observe or experience environment in a new way. For a variety of reasons, this plan ultimately failed. But the obsession stuck. I returned back to regular speed with a hand full of test pieces, new methods, and strands – as yet unconnected.

My favourite objects were the horns. The amplification of sound – whether projected out, or listened through, was slight, and distorted, but allowed for a new listening to space. Potential. Each placing of the horns was somehow unsatisfactory, so they have sat as talking pieces to be moved around regularly, to become part of the furniture.

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Sound Horn.

Some things just take time. The residency’s work continues, and the place for horns is almost here.

Sound vessels

wave decay

contain
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http://www.wavedecay.com