In 2015 myself and the composer Tony Doyle began a journey through different soundscapes to explore the impact of renewable energy technologies on rural and natural environments. This included travelling to a variety of areas, working with local artists and communities, developing new methodologies and producing, albums, exhibitions, concerts and published papers in the process. What follows below is aspects of that research and the outputs as a series of captured blogs and links to outputs.
Icelandic Recording trip 2015
Contact mic recording
Travelling to Iceland with Christ Watson to record the Icelandic soundscape in the summer cycle, 24 hours of daylight. Some amazing sounds and scenery. Some interference from planes, tour boats and tourists. Visited a hydroelectric dam, emerged feeling perturbations from the very loud underground vibrations of the plant, recorded the sounds underwater in the river.
Hydroelectric power plant
Recording in Spain August 2015
Recording Windmills La Fatarella
This summer myself and Tony travelled to the North East of Spain in the Cataluna region, we were hoping to record the hot soundscape as an opposition to the my cold sounds of Iceland. instead of focusing on what heat does do the sounds of nature, which I did actually explore, we came across a very changed landscape to one we had seen almost 8 years before. The skyline of the Terra Alta region, a spectacular mountain area which is located within the Ribera d’Ebre region, was covered in wind turbines. This beautifully large and graceful machines for harnessing the wind, came to dominate my recordings, images of which can be seen above. The sounds they produced was also amazing, and one wonders how much this affects the wildlife. There is a constant whir, whir, whir, which is hypnotic. These sounds alongside my recordings of the electric energy of Iceland will be intriguing material to work with for the next year.
Windmill La Fatarella
Acoustic Ecology and Sound Recording Residency – Terra Alta Region, Northern Spain August 2016
10-day field recording trip in La Fatarella Spain – 9th-19th of August 2016.
Acoustic Ecology Residency 2016
In August 2016 sound artist Linda O Keeffe and Composer Tony Doyle ran a sonic arts residency in the La Fatarella municipality in the northern Terra Alta of Spain. The village is located within a vast mountainous area. During the summer the high temperatures parch the landscape, riverbeds dry up and fallen leaves and branches quickly turn brittle. The surrounding area consists of Finca’s (A piece of rural land, which typically has a farmhouse or cottage present). During the day crickets dominate the soundscape and at night the swallows.
2016 Sound Artists in Residence
The two residents were Robin Parmar and Matt Green.
Our Artists in Residence
Robin Parmar explores the poetics of place and memory by way of electroacoustic composition, non-ideomatic improvisation, experimental texts, and film. Works have appeared in Ireland, England, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Slovenia, Canada, and the USA. His compositions have appeared on several international labels. Albums include “…between…” (Gruenrekorder, 2014) with David Colohan of United Bible Studies, and “The Drones” (Stolen Mirror, 2013). Recent papers have examined the phenomenology of discontinuity in digital music, the “space” of Joy Division, and the screendance of Angela Conway. Robin lectures on Acoustics, Psychoacoustics, and Modalities of Listening at the University of Limerick. He is a doctoral student at De Montfort University, Leicester.
Matt Green is a lecturer, researcher and site-specific sound artist who holds a Phd in Sonic Arts. Matt’s previous practice includes Resounding Rivers (2010), which was commissioned by Belfast City Council and PLACE, Belfast and explored Belfast’s buried waterways via six concurrent sound installations housed externally throughout the city. In Hear, Out There: Madrid (2008) was a mobile sound work that addressed a culturally impoverished site in Madrid known as AZCA. For this work, Matt and his collaborators received a Spanish Ministry of Culture ‘Culturas 2008’ award. Each of Matt’s installations and mobile works, including those mentioned, are the outcome of an extensive programme of situated activity that includes field recording (the aural equivalent to photography and documentary); community collaboration; and onsite research, design and development.
During the residency we toured the Terra Alta region and the Ebro D’elta, in addition we got to experience festival season in the Tarragonna Region which happens every August. Over the coming months I will update on works created in response to the residency.
Dawn Chorus 7th May 2017 South Walney Nature Reserve
Dawn Chorus on South Walney Nature Reserve from Linda O Keeffe on Vimeo.
As part of International Dawn Chorus Day May 7th 2017 myself and Tony Doyle began a series of recorded walks starting at 4:30 this morning, through the South Walney Nature Reserve in Barrow. There are several distinct nesting sites on South Walney which means you have very different bird sounds as the dawn progresses.
I am not an ornithologist so all I can say for certain is that I have the bird sounds of Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Greenshank, Redshank, Short-eared Owl, Eider duck, Canada Goose. The recordings were made in grassland, coastal and pond sites.
Eager ears with more knowledge than me will be able to name the other species.
Performing in Walney May 2017
As part of world Dawn Chorus Day myself and the composer Tony Doyle created a day long workshop for attendees of the Sound Camp at South Walney Nature Reserve, organised by Octopus Collective.
In the evening we performed a new work generated by text performed by the attendees of the sound camp and collected objects.
After a brief introduction to acoustic ecology and listening methods each participant was given a listening meditation (meditation and composition). They brought this on their walks through the reserve. Later, we recorded their texts and a series of sound performances they created with materials they collected as part of the listening meditation and object collection. These were incorporated into a live coded and 3d graphic score performance, see image above.
This performance was broadcast online and performed at the London sound camp. We will have sound and images of the evenings performance to follow.
Attendees performing with objects found on their soundwalk
Presenting papers and artwork at Balance UnBalance Plymouth 2017
This year I presented two papers and and an art work at the balance unbalance conference at Plymouth university. You can download the paper to here.
Listening To Ecological Interference: Renewable Technologies And Their Soundscapes
(This proposal is linked to an art proposal for the conference)
The sounds of modernity are increasingly moving into natural habitats. With an influx of new technologies designed to utilise and extract material from nature, the natural soundscape is becoming masked by the mechanical and technological. This article addresses an experience of listening and recording which took place in the summer of 2015, within two different natural landscapes: the southern region of Iceland and the north eastern region of Spain. The field trip exposed a significant keynote sound within each space; a sound produced by renewable technologies. The sounds produced by these technologies, wind farms and hydroelectric power stations, were significantly louder than had been expected. This lead to an analysis of whether the soundscapes of environmentally friendly technologies can or should be critiqued, even if they have a demonstrable impact on the ecosystem.
SOUNDS LIKE HER: HYBRID SOUNDSCAPES I, II, III, IV, 2017
Sounds Like Her (2017), curated by Christine Eyene, produced by New Art Exchange. Photography: Bartosz Kali
In October this year the Sounds Like Her show, curated by Christine Eyene, was launched at the New Art Exchange Gallery in Nottingham. I was one of the commissioned artists in this show which was looking to “broaden existing approaches to sound art, and contest Eurocentric and patriarchal frameworks to sound art” (Eyene 2017). My work, a four wall drawing and sound installation piece, see pics, explored the impact of renewable technologies on the social and natural soundscape.
Each wall drawing is both sound map and graphic score based on four different spaces I have explored over the past 4 years, Beijing, China, Walney in Barrow, UK, The Terra Alta Region in Spain and Iceland. The sound work a 5 .0 piece was spatialised by the composer Tony Doyle. The exhibition also featured works by Ain Bailey, Elsa M’bala, Sonia Boyce, Christine Sun Kim and others. It was a privilege to be part of such a far reaching and important exhibition. The work will continue to be exhibited till January 2018 and will then tour to other venues, those spaces TBA.
Silent Spring Album Launch 5 November 2019
Recently released my new solo album Silent Spring with the label Flaming Pines. This work began over three years ago, with each track, (there are three) created as a meta and physical response to embodied sonic arts research. The album info is below for details from the Flaming Pines site, and the link to listen and purchase tracks or the entire album, is also below. Please purchase to support labels like FP, the great Kate Carr who owns this label, is an invaluable member of the sonic arts community and we need people like her.
Listen to the Wire’s Frances Morgan introduce one of the works on air.https://www.mixcloud.com/TheWireMagazine/adventures-in-sound-and-music-hosted-by-frances-morgan/
Silent Spring is a meditation on human and natural sounds, new technologies, and our relationships with other species.
It comprises three pieces Icelandic Reveries, Silent Spring and Strange Birds, composed from recordings taken at a hydroelectric dam in Iceland, wind turbine farms in the Terra Alta region Spain and acts of sounding and listening in the Brazilian Amazon, respectively. The first two pieces reflect on the impact of new renewable energy sources, tracing not only the sonic impact of these structures on other species, but the ways in which the soundscape is able to communicate broader structural and environmental changes associated with the introduction of these technologies. In Terra Alta, in Spain, where Silent Spring was composed Linda writes:
“The introduction of wind turbines has changed the natural soundscape, with the constant presence of their whirring sound. The crickets are louder, the birds quieter, the change in economic practices from farming to wind turbine systems on the landscape has resulted in fewer jobs for young men and women with a radically reduced agricultural economy. The villages become quieter with young people moving to the cities. This work documents the different spaces of sound in the region from country bars, to festivals, crickets to turbines, it’s a collage of the sounds that are disappearing over time with the emergence of one dominant tech sound.”
While the final piece, which incorporates recordings taken in the Amazon, is centred on listening to the mixed natural and human soundscapes of the Amazon in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, a process which culminated in an act of connection, a scream into the forest, met with screams in return.
released October 14, 2019
All tracks by Linda O’Keeffe
and Mastered by Tony Doyle
Photography and design: Kate Carr
Special thanks: I would like to acknowledge the support of arts council England in developing the work Strange Birds. A special thanks also to Rebecca for screaming with me in the dark.
I would also like to thank Tony Doyle for doing the final mastering of these audio tracks, for listening to every iteration, and giving amazing feedback.