Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Chris Watson at Tyneside Cinema

Monday night was the preview of the latest exhibition at Tyneside Cinema, namely a 16 channel sound installation titled The Town Moor A Portrait in Sound by Chris Watson.

"Esteemed sound recordist, Chris Watson spent a year recording the diverse sounds of Newcastle’s iconic Town Moor for a BBC Radio Newcastle series. The material has now been re-composed to create an immersive sound installation for Tyneside Cinema’s Gallery."

Chris Watson was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Front Row. Despite travelling the world recording sound with the BBC, he spoke with passion about the exciting sounds he recorded so close to home. You can listen to the interview here
The preview was introduced by Chris Watson himself. He gave a bit of an insight into some of the sounds that we were about to hear, specifically those of the bats in Leases Park and the lesser water boatmen in the pond at The Town Moor.

Chris used a hydrophone to record the lesser water boatmen. Lesser water boatmen are the loudest animal on earth in relation to body size. To produce such an intense sound, the water boatmen "stridulate" by rubbing a ridge on their penis across the ridged surface of their abdomen.

Chris explained the speaker set up and how has been able to create the impression that you are listening to the sound happening in the same space as where you are.

The lights went off and we remained seated in the gallery. Chris had informed us that it would last for 38 minutes, and how that time flashed by! In those 38 minutes we witnessed 4 seasons on the Town Moor. I lost track of time, but kept recognising sounds from certain times of the year such as the fireworks on Bonfire night and the fairground attractions of The Hoppings. I had thought that being seated would restrict the extent to which you could appreciate all the different sounds coming from the separate speakers because you would not be able to get move between speakers and experience the sound from different directions. However, it soon became apparent that the speaker setup created an incredibly realistic experience with various sounds coming from all directions.  

As for the visuals, or lack of, in no way did this spoil the work. Infact, the sound was so rich that it was hard not to imagine what would be seen. 


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