By Alan James – Creative Producer
Audible Forces will be half way through its Summer tour as it rolls up Greenwich Hill on Midsummer weekend. Conversations started last year when Jo Ross from OCM conceived the idea and called seven sound artists to muse on the theme of the wind and to come back with their ideas. Max Eastley talked about the tradition and development of Aeolian Harps right up to the present day and many moments were spent observing the action of airy gusts on grass, trees, fields, back-gardens and parks. The wind is invisible, naturally, which makes things challenging. When Without Walls and Brighton Festival commissioned the show we got by the R and D phase and started into making.
The team spent the autumn, winter and spring months testing their creations in studios, hillsides, allotments and on roof tops. Max, Dan Fox, Kathy Hinde, Jony Easterby, Mike Blow, Mark Anderson and Nathaniel Mann arrived from seven different directions on Brighton beach for the early May Bank Holiday and started to limber up. This was for our premiere at Brighton Festival rather than any mod vs rockers ritual. Strung out on the pebbles in Hove (actually) were; sonic harps, silver anemometers, flutes, crashing cymbals, rustling steel grass, droning bass drums, spinning fans, flying straps and pigeons. Highly sustained thirty miles per hour winds on the second day saw Tim Hand, Mr Production Manager, call red alert on the risk assessment and we dutifully lowered some stuff. Thirty miles per hour is very unusual and very strong. Norfolk and Norwich Festival next and we’re up on a hill above the campus spiked into grass and experiencing a curious vortex of no wind just in the middle of our site. The installations are starting to find their own voice together and our site walks on the night before “get-in” help establish the best spot for each work. There is both visual and sonic symmetry between many of the pieces, sometimes planned that way, other times happy happenstance……
In Salisbury we sit in the lee of the cathedral for the opening weekend of the International Festival and meet some of the other Without Walls commissions. Thousands of people wander through the famous Close on the Saturday and we are starting to gather some great feedback from visitors. The common theme is that the wind creates the movement and/or the sound, this is all you need to know. There are information sheets available, gratefully received, when people want to delve further into the science and get connected. The wind behaves well but we have a 39 miles per hour gust on the Sunday which maxes out Max but causes no general collapse. Its amazing how working on, and visiting, a show like this makes you think differently about something as universal as the wind. Happily, we are by now able to invert the theatrical cliché and say “but we CAN possibly work in these conditions”.
A Pigeon Whistle Orchestra: Nathaniel Mann, Pigeon Pete and Audible Forces at the Salisbury Festival
Back in our studios and offices in early June; rendering film, cropping photos, editing sound, finishing budgets, paying expenses, repairing, maintaining and tweaking as we start to think about London, the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival and the Royal Greenwich Park (hill). One thing we know, wherever we go, it should be a breeze….
- Live recording of “Howling Wire” by Dan Fox from Brighton Festival
- Lots more documentation on the “Pigeon Whistles” Pitt Rivers Blog and in collaboration with Max Eastley and Nathaniel Mann
- Some lovely pictures of Audible Forces at Brighton Festival by Julia Claxton
- Audible Forces – OCM & SARU press release
- Check out the websites of the individual artists that create Audible Forces: