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Sounds of Sea Swim

Mackay, Rob


Rob Mackay


<em>The Sounds of Sea Swim</em> is a collection of compositions, sound collages, and installations developed as part of commissioned work for the <em>Sea Swim</em> project, directed by Lara Goodband and John Wedgewood Clarke. Part swimming club and part art club, Sea Swim explores how swimming transforms the way we feel ourselves to be in our bodies and the liberating effects these changes have on the imagination. Sea Swim is part of <strong>imove</strong>: a Cultural Olympiad Programme in Yorkshire – Also:<strong>imove</strong> has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK. Several aspects have been explored in this work, including phonography, sonic geography, acoustic ecology, field recording practice, and voice. To date, 4 artifacts exist as follows: <strong>•</strong> <strong><em>Sea Swim Exhibition</em> (with Lara Goodband, John Wedgewood Clarke, Sally Greaves-Lord, David & James Malone, Damien Murphy and the sea swimmers) </strong>I was commissioned to produce a 17 minute sound piece for this exhibition which brings together the work of a number of artists commissioned for the project, along with work produced by the sea swimmer’s themselves. The sound piece is in a 5.1 surround configuration, with a raised surround pair to add a height dimension to the spatialisation. It incorporates recordings of John Wedgewood Clarke’s poetry with field recordings. Taking a phonographical approach, the sounds of Scarborough’s South Bay and the sea swimmers was captured over a period of 6 months using a range of recording techniques. Hydrophone, binaural, and ambisonic soundfield recordings have been combined to convey different perspectives, from the intimate to the panoramic. At times, simultaneous recordings were taken, both above and below the waves in order to create an immersive experience. The poet’s voice has been recorded both in the studio and in situ, further exploring notions of internal and external space. <strong>• <em>Sea Wall</em> (17’30”)[Installation] </strong><em>Sea Wall</em> drops you in the North Sea. It uses sound to position the listener within the body-space of the swimmer, and the moving image to create a seemingly never-ending swimmer’s memory. This installation, incorporates the sound work from the <em>Sea Swim Exhibition</em> into a video and headphone display. The video was captured from a sea swimmer’s perspective using a head-mounted Go Pro camera. <strong>• <em>South Bay 28th July 2012</em> (10’00”)[Sound Collage] </strong><em>South Bay</em> was created using sound recordings made by myself and participants on the <em>Sounds of Our Surroundings</em> Workshop which I ran as part of my artist’s residency with <em>Sea Swim on Saturday 28th July 2012</em>. Participants traversed Scarborough’s South bay, mapping the soundscape which can be heard. Using a range of recording techniques, sounds were captured using Zoom H4 recorders, a set of Soundman OKM binaural mics, and a pair of Aquarian H2a-XLR Hydrophones. Partly inspired by Luc Ferrari’s ‘Presque Rien’, all of the sounds presented are in their raw form, with simple edits to weave them together. However, unlike Ferrari’s piece, which captures the sounds of a fishing village over 24 hours, ‘South Bay’ takes 7 different perspectives which have all been recorded over the same 1 hour period by 7 different sound recordists (Tariq Emam, Rory Saxman Stephenson-Eves, Pat Lawty, John Wedgewood Clarke, Suzen fyfe, Martin Haswell, and Robert Mackay).The different perspectives of the bay (both above and below the waves) are explored as our virtual listening point shifts through a range of transitions. Another aspect to this piece is to document the acoustic ecology of the area of South Bay called ‘Children’s Corner’. This part of the beach is set to be covered with boulders as part of a sea defense programme. As an ongoing project, the sounds of the area will be documented after the sea defenses have been put in place in order to monitor the changing acoustic ecology of the site. <strong>• <em>Fizz^Fizz</em> (10’00”)[Composition] </strong>This composition is for poet, mezzo-soprano, and laptops. It uses John Wedgewood-Clarke’s poem ‘Rain’ as its basis. It combines field recordings with several vocal layers derived from the poem, including live spoken word, singing, manipulated recorded voice, and synthesised voice. All of the vocal layers (apart from the singer) have been derived from John Wedgewood Clarke’s voice, including the synthesised voice. The speech synthesier is a formant synth created in Max/MSP by myself, and is a conversion of a Pd patch created by Prof Roger Moore (University of Sheffield). This work was part of a collaborative project within the CreST Network ( An audio recording of the poet’s voice was analysed using Prof Moore’s analysis software and converted into a string of control data for the formant synth which models the human voice, with a virtual larynx using a phasor~ oscillator, a white noise generator for sibilance, and 5 resonant filters to model the voice formants. The speed and quality of the vocal synthesisr can be altered beyond the range of normal speech, in order to create a continuum between speech and music. Sine wave speech can be created by making the width of the filters extremely narrow creating an effect akin to Alvin Lucier’s ‘I am Sitting in a Room’. This work continues some of the timbral merging explored in <em>Flow</em>, where transitions occur between the live voice, synthesised voice, recorded voice, and field recordings. PUBLICATIONS: - Goodband, L., Clarke, J., Mackay, R., Greaves-Lord, S., Malone, D., Malone, J., Murphy, D., <em>Sea Swim Exhibition</em>. 2012. - Mackay, R., Goodband, L., Clarke, J., <em>Sea Wall</em>. 2012. - Mackay, R., <em>South Bay 28th July 2012</em>. 2012. - Mackay, R., <em>Fizz^Fizz</em>. 2012. PERFORMANCES/EXHIBITIONS: <strong>• <em>Sea Swim Exhibition</em> (2012) [with Lara Goodband, John Wedgewood Clarke, Sally Greaves-Lord, David & James Malone, Damien Murphy and the sea swimmers] </strong>- Woodend Creative Workspace, Scarborough. 6th – 24th February 2012. - Shandy Hall, Coxwold. 24th March 2012. - mima (Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art). 18th August – 1st September 2012. <strong>•<em> Sea Wall </em>(2012) [Audio visual installation with Lara Goodband and John Wedgewood Clarke] </strong>- ‘Tape to Typdef’ conference. University of Sheffield. 1st – 2nd February 2013. - Poetry Library. Southbank Centre, London. 9th January – 8th February 2013. - IFIMPaC (International Festival for Innovations in Music Production and Composition. Leeds College of Music. 14th December 2012. - York Art Gallery. 1st September – 31st December 2012. <strong>• <em>South Bay 28th July 2012</em> (2012) [Sound Collage] </strong>- Sea Swim Beach Challets, South Bay, Scarborough. 29th July 2012. <strong>• <em>Fizz^Fizz </em>(2012) [live poetry, soprano, and laptops] </strong>- CreST concert. Woodend Creative Workspace, Scarborough. 26th January 2013. - IFIMPaC, The Wardrobe, Leeds. 13th December 2012.


Mackay, R. Sounds of Sea Swim

Digital Artefact Type Audio
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords REF 2014 submission
Public URL

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