Monday, 13 March 2017

Launch of the Tyneside Sounds Society at Shipley Art Gallery

I attended the launch of the Tyneside Sounds Society at the Shipley Art Gallery. Michael McHugh has set up this group to establish if there is an interest in forming a network of individuals in Tyneside dedicated to Phonography, Field Recording and the aural environment of Tyneside and North East.

The network will have an emphasis on exploring both the current environment of Tyneside (also North East in general) and also its heritage (or ‘lost’ sounds).

The objective of group is to establish a grass roots network of individuals irrespective of age, gender, knowledge or experience who have an interest in this area and want to share knowledge, promote/organise events or activities and contribute recordings.

The evening included an introduction to the Tyneside Sounds Society by Michael McHugh, a presentation by John Kannenberg about The Museum of Portable Sound, and a performance by Mariam Rezaei.

John Kannenberg is a multimedia artist, curator, writer, researcher and composer. He investigates the sonic geography of museums and archives, the psychology of collection, the processes of making and observing art, and the human experience of time.

His work has included exhibitions for radio, online and physical venues including the Herskovits Library of African Studies in Chicago, the ZKM Medienmuseum, the Biennale of Electronic Arts in Perth, London's ResonanceFM art radio station, the Version Festival in Chicago, as well as a display of ancient Egyptian soundmaking objects for the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor.

John established The Museum of Portable Sound in 2015 when he visited London from the United States and discovered that his iphone did not function as a mobile phone in the United Kingdom. That is when he decided to turn his iphone into The Museum of Portable Sound. John aims to bring the culture of sound to the world, one listener at a time. He uses his iphone to record a vast array of sounds, which are then catalogued in the museum. As the museum's strapline states It's not an app, it's an experience. Rather than make the sounds available to download online, the museum only exists on John's mobile phone and visits have to be booked in advance on an individual basis (though group bookings can now be taken due to the museum acquiring headphone spilters). The museum has a guide book that can be downloaded as pdf and also, in keeping with the need for museums to generate income, a gift shop.

The launch of Tyneside Sounds Society coincided with the centenary of the Shipley Art Gallery. To mark this occasion, Mariam Rezaei was invited to perform using a gramophone recording of a speech made by King George V the from Tyne & Wear Museum Archives collections. The speech was delivered in the Shipley Art Gallery on 10th October 1928, part of a ceremonial address to mark the opening of the Tyne Bridge. The speech was recorded by Columbia Records and also includes an address of welcome by W. Swinburne, Town Clerk of Gateshead. It was subsequently published by Columbia as a souvenir of the event. The record was originally part of the collection of Gateshead's Local & Industrial Museum or Saltwell Park Museum.

Mariam used the original gramophone record and a digitisation of the recording to improvise, with turntables, a live cut-up of the speech to create - a form of erasure or sonicblackout as a reinterpretation of the 80 year old recording.

It was an interesting evening, and I'm keen to get involved and explore the museum's collection of sound recordings.

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