Old Stuff


Rowen, Conwy, September 2009

Created during the Locator 20 residency in Rowen, led by Simon Whitehead.
The landscape around and above Rowen is old and vast. Although it has been shaped by human activity, this shaping is superficial. It remains, ultimately, oblivious to our presence. It has been here long before we arrived and will still be here long after we are gone.

It therefore seemed arrogant and intrusive to create a piece in the landscape that required significant input from me. I felt it much more appropriate to use largely what was already available – topology, objects found on the hillside and weather.

The windmills act as a power source, harnessing the ever-present wind to activate percussive events on the iron gate, but they also recall both the nearby seaside and the monstrous/beautiful wind turbines at Moel Maelogan, visible across the valley. Two microphones are fixed to the gate in order to amplify the deep and complex resonances within the gate structure that are induced by the windmills and objects. The audience get to hear both versions simultaneously – the initial and direct sound of sheep bone on iron, of rusted sheet on rusted strut, squeak and judder of each windmill’s rotation – and the richer, resonant, indirect thuds, scrapes and drones fed through the speakers.

Here’s the unamplified version, a recording of just the direct sound from the gate before the speakers were switched on:

Steffan Jones-Hughes said that this piece was ‘visually…relatively weak’, but thankfully he also goes on to say that ‘It becomes mesmeric and contemplative.’

Parallel Wales

The LAB, San Francisco, October-November 2008. With Owen Martell

An audio-visual component of the greater Parallel Wales project. Images of towns and cities in the north-eastern United States with Welsh place-names are projected along with field recordings of their Welsh counterparts. A complex and multi-levelled work, this could just as easily be summarised as an investigation into audio-visual disconnect and disruption of sensory expectation as it could an exploration of shared but distant cultural histories, or the strange psychological effects of geographical nomenclature.

See two of the pieces in the comfort of your own Welsh town over at Owen’s site.

A Day In The Life of a Welsh Gallery

The LAB, San Francisco, October-November 2008. With Owen Martell

Day-to-day activity transposed across the Atlantic: a six hour field recording of the exhibition space at Galeri Caernarfon played back at low levels over the in-house PA system in the foyer of the LAB Gallery, San Francisco. Will Californian art lovers be disorientated by disembodied Welsh footsteps, or strange murmurings in a language they can’t place? Will the footsteps be conspicuous by their unCalifornianness? Will foyer-dwellers be too hip to even notice?

The Mabinogi of Math

Maentwrog, Gwynedd, June 2008

Audio installation as part of a woodland storytelling trail. Pryderi has just declared war against Gwynedd as a result of being tricked into giving away all his pigs. The audience descend steeply downhill through tree cover and heavy undergrowth, surrounded by bloody conflict, death, arrows, fire and lots of stabbing.


Coed Gwydir, Llanrwst, October 2007. With Ceri Rimmer

Evening falls. Audience members progress through the pitch black forest labyrinth in pairs, guided by instinct and starlight. At the darkest point, deep in the labyrinth’s heart, where no light can penetrate, a silent man dressed in black blocks the way. He offers his hand, and leads the guests slowly into the blackness, eventually towards a small glowing red ball. They stop. The man produces an umbrella, which he hands to the guests. As they take the umbrella, it begins to rain – gentle at first, getting stronger, clearly audible all around, but none of it falling on the umbrella. Strange insects are heard in the darkness, windchimes, muffled voices just out of range. Then, out of the darkness, a huge cocoon appears, glowing blue – it is made entirely of umbrellas. As deep, plate-tectonic drones circle the onlookers, the cocoon beings to rotate, and soon births a young dancer, who emerges into the night. An exploratory, ritual dance follows, and when the dancer notices the observers, she stops, takes them by the hand and leads them into the cocoon. Once more, the cocoon rotates, slowly at first and then faster, and then slowly again, disgorging its inhabitants in the opposite direction from which they entered. They continue down the dark forest path towards the Scientist’s hut. The silent man returns to the dark place entrance to greet the next guests.