The Sound Edit ))) November 2014

))) The Play: Follow at the Abbey Theatre (Peacock stage).  I am always interested in alternative uses of narrative devices, in whatever format, so was immediately intrigued when I heard of this piece of theatre as it claimed to be “inspired by sign language as a form of communication and narrative device”.  As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the play’s remit is also to “simultaneously address a Deaf and a hearing audience“.

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Photo © WillFredd Theatre

The company has devised the circular structure of this play from stories collected within the Dublin Deaf Community, and as such the material felt authentic and truthful. It was presented creatively and with sensitivity by outstanding solo performer Shane O’Reilly, Irish Sign Language proficient and a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). The score is by Jack Cawley, who also performs live on stage: instruments include a theremin (surprisingly useful when used for comic effect as seen in one particular scene), an electric guitar to effectively improvise muffled speech, a loop pedal and a keyboard. Lighting worked particularly well in bringing the bare set to life, with use that is both clever and sparse.  A worthwhile and creative experiment, worth checking out.

Follow runs on the Peacock stage until 6th December, more info available here.

))) The installation: Adam Gibney at the Royal Hibernian Academy (part of FUTURES 14). I must have walked around and around this sound art piece, ‘Synthesiser 7: (un)Certain‘, enjoying it for a long time, while pondering how rare it is to see something like this in Ireland, a country that takes very few audio risks with its gallery spaces.

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Visually and aurally taking over the space, this is an eight channel, motion-triggered piece of granular synthesis presented through large, alien-looking pod-speakers that are connected to each other by plastic tentacle-like tubes.

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The output is a variety of textures occasionally punctuated by human voices, both male and female, sometimes clean and other times heavily warped to the point of unrecognizability. Although presented as part of the ‘Futures 14’ RHA showcase, I felt this work was a better theoretical match with the visual exhibition of Karl Burke, providing sub-bass weight and punch to the frail, sparse lines next door.

))) The Audio Event: HearSay Audio Arts Festival Hard to believe it’s already been a week since the Festival ended. Taking place in the tiny village of Kifinane in Co. Limerick, it was three packed days of audio goodness showcased in quirky venues such as the local barbershop, disused church and local library. It was also a wonderful opportunity to spend time with old audio friends, and get to know new ones from around the world in a cosy and informal setting.

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A particular highlight for me were the AMAs (Ask Me Anything), secret sessions where small groups of listeners were welcomed into the homes of some of the locals, with one guest speaker talking about elements of their work and sharing their audio secrets. I was lucky enough to be tagging along to the one led by CBC broadcasting legend Neil Sandell, which took place…in the Priest’s house.  Being served delicious hot whiskeys by the local Priest while jotting down some of the best interview tips I ever received will definitely be one of the highlights of the season! 

))) The Sound File: Lasagna Days by Karen Robins.  Seen as I am on HearSay, I’d like to share a sound file which was the winner of the Student Award. It is a narrative sound piece by Canadian / NYC-based Karen Robins, which we were told began as an exercise in creative writing and was, after a few rewrites, successfully translated into sound. The blend of music, sound recording and narration is beautifully judged, and packs a strong emotional punch.

))) The Work: HearSay and Hamburg Sounds During the HearSay Festival I presented a talk showcasing some of my favourite sounds and recordings from Basilicata. This month also saw the online launch of the Cities and Memory’s Hamburg Sounds project. In addition to the online sound map, I was delighted to hear that my piece ‘5 Little Steam Engines (Speicherstadt)’ made the cut to be included in a new release from label Mobius Spin, which will both complete and archive the project.

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