I_P_5 – Week 10

Project proposal, of the informal variety… a chance to get feedback and learn more about our individual projects from questioning within the group. I recieved some supportive and helpful feedback and hope I offered the same to the others in my group.

My project is existing in nascent form at this point, which is very late in this process. I have strong ideas here and vague notions, there… I booked a slot in the Project Room on Thursday afternoon to set up and show my exhibition project – the sound behind the silence.

So, lots of preparation work ahead of me… filling in the spaces in my proposal, planning the layout of the space, making a list of equipment and sundry items that I will need to take to the SoA, finally deciding on what I want to achieve, etc.

EMF sensors

As seems to be a pattern in my life, I was still preparing on Thursday morning in frantic anticipation of my afternoon in the Project Room… the last bit of soldering, hunting for leads and adapters, checking batteries and double checking my checklist. Fortunately, I nabbed the marvellous Phil Garrett the day before and worked out what equipment I would need to bring from home to supplement the loaned equipment (speakers, mixing desk, turntable, etc…). Bag packed, I set off for the SoA.

I managed to set up the space in about an hour and had plenty of time to experiment, switch things around and photograph and video the show. It was nice to have a visual idea in my head and be able to transfer that vague, blurred conception into a real space for real art!

I prepared an artist statement to explain what the hell was going on:

The sound behind the silence

We are surrounded by electro-magnetic radiation. Our planet has an electro-magnetic field (EMF), as do our bodies. Man-made electronic equipment such as microwave ovens, mobile phones and computers, DVD players and TV screens contribute to the all day, every day bombardment of EMF. This interactive installation aims to facilitate an understanding of the proliferation of EMF and to encourage action to reduce our exposure. 

The project uses EMF as a soundscape, which is made from recordings of my journeys to and from the School of Art, where I encountered the EMF sounds from lamp posts, pedestrian crossings, shop window displays and ATM’s.

Visitors can contribute to the soundscape by using EMF listening devices to capture the emissions from various devices. The light shadows come from a range of prototype electronic circuits that I have built in the process of this project.

My journey into the world of EMF has deepened as I discovered research into the harmful effects of EMF exposure. I also found out about the appalling global e-waste situation where our old electronic junk is sent away to countries including Thailand and Ghana, to be “recycled” by low paid workers who are exposed to many toxic materials. This is another sobering aspect of our devotion to electronic devices which the sound behind the silence seeks to address.

the sound behind the silence (extract) – Tim Beckham

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