Monday, 25 June 2012

Kaffe Mattews – you might come out of the water every time singing

Sitting on the edge of a pontoon my feet dangling off the edge into a dim abyss. Though in my equally dim mind I know that the solid floor is inches away from my feet. I am staring at my feet and I am surrounding, enveloped by shifting patterns of sound. These sounds generated by the data accrued from the behaviour of Hammerhead sharks that inhabit the waters of an island I shall never visit.

The varying sound tumbling around me in pitch and speed, gives me a duality where I'm both part of this environment and its centre. Attempting to avoid the cliché for listening to sound art I keep my eyes open. The next time you experience a sound piece look for people doing the 'sound art pose' – eyes closed, head cocked to one side. My reason for this is that like all installations, a sound installation should alter my perception or experience of the space in which it is installed.

I'm laying on the platform now, looking up at the four green lights and a trench that forms part of ceiling the gallery space. The sound passes from speaker to speaker indicating that invisible, partly physical thing are circling the space.

Then the rumbling kicks in.

The platform begins to vibrate; it begins to vibrate my vision. It's not an entirely unpleasant experience but it is akin to being drunk, on you bed waiting for room to stop spinning. Something which is at one thrilling but you want the sensation to leave you so you can return to a sense of normality. A mixture of laying on my back and the rolling thumping sound has disoriented me.

Having already though about writing about my experience words begin to rush in. Really hard-core pretentious stuff like: 'What fire could recall the firmament' and 'How can you code the seas'. Then I realise there are meant to be sharks here swimming in the either, but there isn't. What I am experiencing here is movement transformed in data then transformed into sound. An attempt to comprehend nature as right, as abstract, as a diagram in a book.

Then I begin to consider is the enveloping sound really that abstract. It feels as much as an amplification of the world around you. The movement of others, the lives of others, if you can spend a few moments stand at the top of the stairwell. Looking at the people walking around the space below and see how it tally's with the sound.

Somewhere within the swirl of sound I began to think about how in our species attempts to catalogue the world still points to something unknowable. Something elusive in the actions of the creatures which inhabit this planet from: apes to bacteria. Maybe it is this experience of the unattainable that makes us delve deeper into the unknown. To listen out for the song that is referred to in the title of this piece.

Kaffe Matthews installation is currently part of the Galapagos exhibition at The Bluecoat until the 1st July

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