Now Hear This
Now Hear This was a series of audio works presented in various public spaces across Middlesbrough as part of AV Festival 08. Encompassing several new commissions, the project featured sound works by artists selected for their various interests in the complex relationships between sound, space and location.
Adopting diverse modes of broadcast and public address, Now Hear This offered a range of listening experiences and unexpected sonic interventions into the everyday urban environment, creating surprising and engaging encounters with broadcast material. Commissions included sound works by British artists Marcus Coates, Zoë Irvine and People Like Us.
Curated and produced by Forma. Commissioned by AV Festival 08.
Marcus Coates with Geoff Sample
The Mall, Grange Road, Middlesbrough
Marcus Coates, in collaboration with sound recordist Geoff Sample, broadcasts a series of birdsong recordings in Middlesbrough's main shopping centre, The Mall. Using the existing public address system, Coates audio works feature local bird species native to the Tees Estuary and North East England.
Busy shoppers will hear the sounds of large flocks of waders feeding on local mudflats at low tide, alongside the hubbub of species calling and probing each other to keep flocks together and to signal feeding and foraging times. Broadcast at close intervals throughout the day, Coates brings an unexpected soundtrack to this indoor urban environment, drawing some surprising parallels and contrasts between bird life and human behaviour.
Central Library, Victoria Square, Middlesbrough
Zoë Irvine presents highlights from the audio archive of DIAL–A–DIVA. DIAL–A–DIVA is a 24 hour global, telephonic singing event celebrating one of the earliest broadcast technologies – the Theatrophone.
The Theatrophone (or Electrophone as it was sometimes called) was the highlight of the World Exhibition in Paris in 1881 where it connected listeners via telephone to the Paris Opera house and theatres. The idea took off in various forms – transmitting theatre and opera performances around the world until the device died out in the 1920s with the spread of radio broadcasting.
In 2007 and 2005, Zoë Irvine's DIAL–A–DIVA project recreated the theatrophone experience by allowing listeners to enjoy live musical performances from around the world via a call centre and phone lines for a 24 hour period. Visitors to Middlesbrough Central Library can hear a selection of the recorded performances on listening posts, presented alongside an exhibition of postcards and ephemera reflecting the magical experiences early telecommunications offered.
People Like Us
Daily downloads from Bluetooth hotspot outside entrance to BHS, Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough
Pair up with People Like Us for a series of misfiring musical arrangements, exploring the entertaining aspects of miscommunication, disharmony, bad connections and missed calls.
Vicki Bennett (aka People Like Us) will produce a series of short audio works to be broadcast via Bluetooth in Middlesbrough Town Centre. These brief musical compositions explore the humorous side to communication breakdowns in all their varied and surprising forms.
To experience Breaking Waves, take a Bluetooth enabled device (such as a mobile phone) within close proximity of the Bluetooth broadcaster – look out for the poster site situated in front of BHS on Linthorpe Road, in Middlesbrough's central shopping area. The broadcaster will emit a notification that gives the option to download and listen.
Background image: Installation view, People Like Us, Breaking Waves, Linthorpe Road, Middlesborough, 2008