Concrete Antenna is a sound installation in the new Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop tower, exploring the past, present and (potential) future of the Workshop’s site, produced in collaboration with Tommy Perman and Simon Kirby.
You can read about the project in features in The Herald and The List.
In the installation, sound gathered from audio archives and specially made field recordings rises, falls, breaks apart and splices back together along multiple speakers up the 28 metre tall triangular concrete tower, evoking the site’s various histories as a blacksmith, a railway siding close to the Newhaven docks and now a thriving creative workshop beside a wildlife-rich cycle route.
Using a range of unusual production techniques derived from the tower itself, the recordings – foghorns, train whistles, gas work demolition, birdsong, construction work, wind in fishing boat sails and many more – are slowly reshaped in the piece, coalescing from their original form to something new, musical and celebratory.
The installation responds in subtle ways to the state of the tide at Granton, the prevailing weather conditions, and the movement of visitors in the tower, creating a unique experience for every listener.
In doing so, the tower becomes a concrete antenna, picking up impressions of the imagined sonic memory of the site, which mingle with the natural soundscape trickling in through a periscope-like gap at the top of the building.
As such, whilst the installation will run continuously throughout 2015, it will never sound quite the same, with each visit – however long or short – yielding a new listening experience as the sounds of the site are constantly remade.
Branch Line video
This video was shot on Super 8 film by Tommy around railway lines – both abandoned and in use – in North Edinburgh. The track layers and processes field recordings of steam engines and foghorns using manipulated tape loops and convolution reverbs.
I gave the developed Super 8 film a second round of processing, encasing in cement and moss from the local landscape for a month. When unearthed, the film had developed new flares, marks, lines and etchings: the landscape around the Concrete Antenna tower visually altered and reframed.
LP + Print Set
Using sparse piano, site-specific field recordings and archive sound samples, alongside a number of production techniques derived from the architecture of the tower itself, we produced an album which skirts modern classical composition, warm organic drones and flickering minimal electronica.
The Concrete Antenna LP will be released in a 12″ vinyl + print set and digital download in December 2015 through Random Spectacular, the publishing imprint of design collective St. Jude’s.
The set includes a 12″ vinyl record, art prints and a specially designed tide table to determine how you listen to the record (both by Tommy) and a series of essays on the record’s production. Edition of 500.
Order 12″ set.