A signalman on a remote stretch of East Yorkshire railway is visited by a lone traveller in this drama-documentary written by poet Ross Sutherland. Inspired by a Charles Dickens ghost story, and featuring nature recordings by renowned wildlife recordist Chris Watson.
The Oxmardyke Gate Box is one of the last in the UK to use antiquated mechanical bells to carry semaphore-style messages up and down the line. Soon this system of “absolute block signalling” will pass into history, as computers take over. The bells, like the humans who listen for them, will no longer be needed.
In this feature fusing fact and fiction, the poet Ross Sutherland visits Oxmardyke to meet Dave Beckett, one of the last operators to use the bells. From their elevated position, the pair gaze out over the hinterland near the muddy Humber estuary. It’s an area of villages with Anglo-Saxon names: Gilberdyke, Broomfleet and Saxfleet, with remains of the monastery where the Knights Templar would return after international travel. The flat, reclaimed land has an eerie quality, accentuated by a strange local phenomenon known as a temperature inversion (where high density cold air becomes trapped by warm wetter air) causing sound to carry further, meaning passing trains loom larger and echo further than they ordinarily would.
Writer: Ross Sutherland
Contributor: Dave Beckett
Producers: Jack Howson and Joby Waldman
Sound Design: Chris Watson and Steve Bond
A Reduced Listening Production for BBC Radio 3
Venture south and explore large-scale public art in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. Project X will present a series of major artworks in the Huon, with the aim of bringing visitors back to the south in the wake of the bushfires that recently ravaged the island.
Project X will open at Dark Mofo 2019 with Hrafn: Conversations with Odinby Chris Watson and The Wired Lab. More info about Project X artworks will be announced soon.
A DarkLab project, supported by the Australian government and the Tasmanian government through Tourism Tasmania, and Mona. DarkLab acknowledges the support of Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, and Events Tasmania.
The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish with Plants: A Festival on Plant Intelligence
11-17 Stoke Newington Road London N16 8BH
Sunday 19th May 1-11pm
Chris Watson, Salmo salar – The Three Realms, on location Croquet Head, commissioned by Serpentine Galleries and L-Acoustics on the occasion of The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish, 2019.
“Most people who bother to think about plants at all tend to regard them as the mute, immobile furniture of our world—useful enough, and generally attractive, but obviously second-class citizens in the republic of life on Earth.” (Stefano Mancuso)
The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish with Plants is a multidisciplinary festival that brings together artists, scientists, writers, anthropologists and musicians for talks, performances, screenings and listening sessions that raise and address some of the most urgent questions facing all of us.
Wildlife recordist Chris Watson begins a three-part journey into the sonic environment of the ocean, celebrating the sounds and songs of marine life and investigating the threat of noise pollution
Does a second feel the same for a fly, a bird, or a swordfish, as it does for me? Geoff Marsh drills into the science of time perception within and between species.
After a devastating earthquake, Nga, an old elephant and probably the last of his kind, and Sanra, his mahout, embark on a journey to find the mythical elephant’s graveyard. A story of discovery and mourning in which the spectator becomes the protagonist, the film follows the duo as they are stalked closely by a group of poachers, who begin to die one after another under mysterious circumstances.
Carlos Casas’s Sanctuary offers a mesmerizing sonic and visual cinematic environment that immerses the audience in the sounds, textures, and hues of the jungle. Projected on the mega-screen in EMPAC’s Concert Hall, and featuring live Ambisonics, Wavefield Synthesis, and infrasound to induce a deep sense of physical closeness with the elephant, Sanctuary presents a unique sensorial experience that collapses the boundaries between art, nature documentary, and adventure film.
Chris Watson collaborated with the bioacoustician and elephant communication expert Joyce Poole to record the acoustic sphere of elephants. Tony Myatt developed the infrasound speaker and implemented the spatial audio. Both will perform live on the speaker systems installed throughout the hall. This is the US premiere of the project, which was previously presented at the Fondation Cartier, Paris; the Tate Modern, London; and the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels.
Okeanos takes the audience on an auditory underwater journey around the globe. Years of recordings from pole to pole will be performed with three audio systems in the Concert Hall: a dome of 64 loudspeakers used to project sounds around the audience in an Ambisonic environment, a Wave Field Synthesis array, consisting of hundreds of small speakers placed above the audience, and a custom-built infrasound speaker used to create the lowest frequencies, which can be more felt than heard. The composition will include songs, signals, and vibrations from the smallest crustaceans to the loudest and largest animals ever to have existed.
Chris Watson and Tony Myatt will perform a version of the work specifically developed for EMPAC’s Concert Hall and its audio systems. This new version will also integrate sound materials recorded on the Northeastern coast of the US and humpback whale recordings from the Silver Banks (Dominican Republic).
Shadows and Reflections: the annual collection of postings in which our contributors and friends consider the events that’ve shaped the past twelve months. As we begin the new year, Chris Watson looks back on 2018
Shadows & Reflections: Chris Watson
CHRIS WATSON, making audible the inaudible
Words by Meritxell Rosell
Minds Meet presents:
World Premiere at Berlinale Panorama 2019; HELLH LE has been selected for the Panorama program of the Berlinale 2019
Three starkly different people deal with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Brussels in May 2016. A Flemish doctor, whose son is a fighter jet pilot on a mission in the Middle East, is forced to confront his loneliness. A young man from Algerian descent is asked by his brother to do him a deceivingly simple favour. An Italian woman, who works in the heart of the European Institutions, is slowly losing control under the pressure of her demanding life.
The same question that seems to haunt the city, looms over their lives: where do we go from here?
A Film By Bas Devos with Hamza Belarbi, Alba Rohrwacher, Willy Thomas, Lubna Azabal, Mieke De Groote, Amine Benhilal, Produced by Tomas Leyers, Marc Goyens, Coproduced by Petra Goedingsm Sibylle Smets, Nicolas Karakatsanis, Cinematography by Nicolas Karakatsanis, Production Design by Elsje De Bruijn, Edited by Dieter Diependaele, Sound Design by Boris Debackere, Additional Sound Score by Chris Watson, Rerecording by Benoit Biral, Music by James Kirby
24.00 – 00.30
Sound recordist Chris Watson captures the changing soundscape from dawn to dusk in the Kalahari Desert in south western Africa. As the light fades, you can see very little but hear everything; from the close up sounds of insects to the far-carrying contact calls of spotted hyenas. Producer Sarah Blunt.
Made for 4 Extra. Wildlife recordist Chris Watson examines some of the ways technology has changed the radio we listen to, from early experiments in sound to the podcast explosion.
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival presents the premiere of Enceindre, a new commission and first collaboration between artist filmmaker Luke Fowler and acclaimed sound recordist Chris Watson. Enceindre is a study in film and sound of two 16th century fortified cities: Berwick in the North-East of England and Pamplona in the Navarre region of the North of Spain.
If fortifications are considered ‘the body of the place’, what does it means to live in a body that is outside of time and without purpose? Could these fortress towns be considered hetrotopias? Or are they, as the writer WG Sebald vividly describes, alien structures denuded from human history? Enceindre adopts an infra-sensitive approach to place, drawing on unheard acoustic perspectives and lucid camerawork to propose a new framework in which to consider these anachronistic landscapes.
The film’s world premiere at BFMAF 2018 will be immediately followed by a ‘dark cinema’ version of the film with an alternative soundtrack diffused live by Chris Watson.
Commission supported by LUMA Foundation, Outset Scotland and Berwick-upon-Tweed Town Council
For the workshop with legendary field recordist and former Cabaret Voltaire member Chris Watson at the 2018 Meakusma Festival, there are still a few places available.
Chris Watson needs no introduction. After leaving Cabaret Voltaire in 1981, he set out on a career as a field recordist specialized in natural history. His work is mostly released on the Touch label. He also works for television, radio and makes installations. He also does work for computer games.
Participants to the workshop will meet with and be taken on a sound walk and night recording session in the High Fens by Chris Watson and Mike Harding of the Touch label. Afterwards, an audio CD will be published using the recordings.
We are proud to have Watson and Harding over at the festival as their presence and the planned CD with audience participation is very much what the Meakusma Festival wishes to stand for.
Jez riley French
& guest artists
A unique gathering of listeners in this area of stunning Scottish landscapes and diverse recording opportunities. Geographically Glenshee offers Munros (mountains over 3000 feet), loch’s, rivers and glens. The trip promises to be a rich source of inspiration, listening and recording possibilities and a chance to discuss and share knowledge around the subjects of located sound, acoustic ecology and contemporary sound practice in its varied forms. Additionally for this trip each of the guest artists will offer their insights into the relationship between located sound and the image (still and moving). We’ll have talks, q&a sessions and a highly enjoyable 16mm found footage workshop.
cost: £795 per person (which includes 6 nights full board accommodation in Glenshee, on the edge of the Cairngorms)
for more information and to secure your place please visit the website:
Ephemera now presents Foris, an immersive installation created by acclaimed field recordist Chris Watson, Schoen and visual artist MFO – also involved in Ephemera from the start. Centered around the idea of preserving endangered ecosystems in the era of the anthropocene, a multichannel installation of field recordings of selected habitats from across the planet interconnects with the olfactory concept of a forest created by Geza Schoen. Like the initial phase of this unique project, Foris will connect to the next series of Ephemera perfume, to be launched in 2019.
BBC Radio 4 New series begins 10th July 2018 for 12 weeks
Broadcast Tuesdays 1102 and repeated on Mondays at 2102
PIKE – 10th July 2018. Brett Westwood journeys into dangerous waters to explore our relationship with the fearsome and predatory Pike. Wildlife sound recordings Chris Watson. Producer Sarah Blunt
NARWHAL – 14th August 2018. Brett Westwood explores our relationship with an Arctic Legend, the Narwhal. This Unicorn of the Sea is not only extraordinary in appearance, but tantalising difficult to study! Additional sound recordings Chris Watson. Producer Sarah Blunt
SHORT WORKS – As I Walked Out One Morning in May
BBC Radio 4 Fri 27th July 1545, rpt Sun 30 July 0030
Death meets the Lady in this short ghostly story written and narrated by Paul Evans which is inspired by a 19th Century ballad, local folklore and the sounds of a woodland. The singer is Elizabeth Counsell. Sound Recordings Chris Watson. Produced by Sarah Blunt.
THE COMPASS – Living with Nature
BBC World Service
The world as you’ve never heard it before. Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson presents a guide to the sounds of four very different global habitats; the Plains, Desert, Mountain and Forest and explores the relationship between these soundscapes in Kenya, Namibia, Norway and India, the wildlife and the local people. Producer Sarah Blunt
25th July – Plains
1st August – Desert
8th August – Mountain
15th Aug – Forest
17 carefully selected artists have been invited to perform on the new d&b Soundscape stage.
All Festival Tickets