The journey to …

The journey to creating ‘Deteriorating Sound of a Structure,’ started when I came across the 16mm film ‘Decasia: The State of Decay.’ Founded footage by Bill Morrison, the film compiles of old footage that has naturally decayed over time. This got me thinking and I decided to try and get my own decayed effect on film, but by burying it. The image easily decomposes due to natural process harnessed my nature.

A found piece of 16mm film was then buried for a week or so and then viewed under a microscope. I took photographic images of the deteriorated film that surprisingly enough looked like planets in outer space. Through this use of the microscope an act unconceivable to the naked eye is performed, similar to that of the magnified image of a projector.

This image is a close encountered observation of the optical sound printed on the sound strip of the 16mm film. I preferred this image of the sound over the image of the picture as the ability to ‘see the sound’ was being activated. This conjured up associations with previous thoughts of viewing structures within sound.

Experiments were carried out with different durational periods of burying, and how this effects the film material. I enjoyed these private experiments of burying the film, waiting and then digging up the film excited to discover the tiny intricacies that are usually hidden for sight.

Meanwhile I was also looking at the artist Susan Hiller. I was intrigued by her role of an artist as a collector of found material, originating from an anthropological background.  Within her sound installation, Witness, the subject matter of people from all around the world recalling UFO sightings highlights matters that may be rendered marginalized or ignored. 

I like her urgency to illuminate the unknown and the play on peoples perception. Viewers are implied to construct there own reality within her piece Magic Lantern, playing on both senses of sound and sight. 

. . . 

In relation to proposing for the gallery space alternative layouts of viewing the decayed image whilst hearing the sound of me burying the film were tried out.  

A set up of multiple microscopes was considered to allow the interactive experience to be shared. I also tested setting up the sound from flowerpots of which I buried the film in to  further resonate the sound. A sound installation including 3 directions of where you encountered the sound was considered to map the sound out in the space.

Decisions around ditching the pots and just using the raw material of the soil was decided in to simplify the set-up and highlighted the use of earth within the process. Feedback from trying this out lead to the experience of smelling the soil when looking through the microscope.

The intentions compositionally to lay the soil close to the microscope was so the viewer had an intimate experience whilst listening the sound. A framework had been placed and my experimentation with the sound evolved.

This project originated through observing fractal structures and processes in nature and in an earlier experiment I tried out constructing sound  to the structure of a crystal. This linked to earlier research on the structure of crystals relating to the formation of planets. I investigated the patterns of crystals under the microscope.

I chose this pattern to base the sound structure on and I tried as hard as I could to accurately scratch the pattern on to the optical sound strip of the 16mm film. This synchronized with pre-existing thoughts of listening to the sound of a structure and not object. Exploring the process of scratching and recording off the optical sound of 16mm film I came across the artist Guy Sherwin who cut into the optical sound strip of film to create the sound of its very shape. What struk me was the literal physicality of the work and the dual experience of seeing something you were listening too.

I then buried the film to incorporate initial intentions of surveying the decomposistional process of buried materials. The film was then cleaned before being read through the 16mm projector. The film was then re-buried until the presentation in the gallery to have a fresh sight of the soil embedded within the film when discovered. It sounded like this..


The structure was investigated whilst the very sound of the structure being perceived was heard. A translation of audible and visible, participants are left open to create there own experience of the piece.

Within the environment of the private view a response to the interactive work is left open. Participants were playful with the installation and it was interesting to watch people’s curiousity lead there experience. The sound was quiet to strain the need to listen carefully to the soil. Through the intention of listening and expecting sound within a public environment people created there own inner sounds that the thought came from the soil. Allowing people to create there own reality within the work. 

My Intentions transformed throughout the experience from initially wanting to use the ground outside as a sight. By bringing the material of soil into the gallery space, the work blurs borders between outside and inside space. The outcomes of viewers interacting with the piece bought up associations of listening to our environments. Through the use of earth as a primary material, the action of placing the ear next to the soil became just as significant as the act of looking down the microscope. My interest in the act of listening over the sound itself has been accomplished through publically presenting this work.

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