Sessions with artists

This was the first of the workshops with artists. It was with Artmusic: Artmusic’s lead artist, composer Helen Ottaway, and, with sound designer Alastair Goolden, who ‘specialises in work which gives the public an active and enhanced experience of their environment.’ The morning was devoted to  reviewing Lachrymae – Artmusic’s musical content – and  then placing it in sound regions on a map of Chapel Coppice, a ruined chapel in a beautiful wood inland from Abbotsbury. Artmusic had previously installed Lachrymae in this wood using tree-mounted speakers which were radio-controlled.

Lachrymae from Alastair Nisbet – ScreenPLAY on Vimeo.

Chapel Coppice - Lachrimae-1

Lachrimae - 5

The content followed existing tracks in the wood.

Lachrimae - 4

In the afternoon – after tracking down the usual delicious food along Bridport high street for a takeaway studio lunch – we all drove out to Chapel Coppice. It’s off the Abbotsbury Road at its highest point (just past a massive Iron Age fort) – turn left along a one-track road, drive on past gnarled wind-blasted trees, park at side road, walk 20 minutes. I like the idea of having to walk 20 minutes … just about enough time to allow you to attune with nature (and sheep, and curious cows, and clouds).

Lachrimae - 3

Once near the wood, it’s ‘phones on! Open the app! Synchronise chronometers! Thumbs up! Bandits at 3 o’clock!‘ … well, perhaps not the last three. ‘Wander!! certainly.

Lachrimae - 1-5

A quiet wood, a chapel. For how many ages have we found peace in woods?

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Lachrimae - 2-1

Lachrimae - 1-9

Lachrimae - 1-8

Lachrimae - 1-4

First review: how did it work? The scape worked perfectly on the approach track to the chapel – magical, having it trigger just as you step over the threshold of the ruined arch; worked ‘adequately’ on the track up to the stile; and was all over the place on the join-up track back towards the main one. Hm. Wrong kind of leaves?

Lachrimae - 1-1

However, all were well-pleased with the experience-design, thanks to the artists, who had come with extensive notes of what they actually wanted (artists are always well-prepared, efficient and thoughtful workers: we have to be, we wouldn’t survive otherwise!). It was not possible to adapt the scape on location (you need to be online to do that, and even tho’ SATSYMPH have a dongle for just that purpose, it does need sight of a phone mast, none of which are in evidence in deep Dorset vales). So we returned to DIVA contemporary’s studio in downtown Bridport and fixed it. Job done. It’s a good ‘un.

Lachrimae - 1-2

Workshop with Frances Aitken (thru’ activate) 2 Nov 2014

This was the 2nd of the workshops SATSYMPH held with and for artists and arts’ groups.

It was a pleasure to work with an artist who had a clear idea of what she wanted and was intriqued by the potential of located media to expand her artistic practice. Frances rolled up with a long interview she had conducted with Steve Wallace, senior archaeologist, Dorset CC on location at The Hardy Monument.


Frances wanted to explore actually locating this at the Monument. SATSYMPH explained the background to the technologies we use to geo-locate content for the smartphone, then we processed her material into a usable form. This involved amplification,  then equalisation to get rid of low frequency wind rumble, then chopping the audio into individual bits suitable for virtual locating on a map. Frances got the idea immediately: “It’s about extending audio into physical, topographical space”! Bingo! Job’s a good ‘un. All the material was located in and around the barrows and other Iron Age features on the site.

Artist-located content - Hardys Monument

After lunch we drove to the Hardy Monument to test on location (virtuality is one thing, reality a quite different matter!). As the Monument is so high, GPS-receptivity is extremely good. The content triggered as designed and a whole load of happy bunnies hopped off well content with the day’s work. We understand Frances is exploring possibilities for further work using locative technologies

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