Carey Dodge


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

interviewing Botanic Gardens folk

On Sunday (Aug. 17th, 2008) I went around Botanic gardens interviewing people. I gave them a word and asked them to say the first three words that popped into their mind. Most people were eager to participate and enjoyed the little bit of quirkiness added to their walk through the park. I got some great words and good feedback. It was invaluable to put some of the ideas of the project in the hands of the people who visit Botanic gardens even if it was in a far removed, abstracted way.

The words I used were... sanctuary, haven, refuge, garden, secret garden, park, oasis, safe place, conservatory. I think the only word that was too removed from the concept of my installation was 'oasis'. It has too many connotations of the desert and the musical group. From the other words there was a lot of interesting associations. For example, from 'secret garden' there was 'key', 'safe', 'open', 'walls'...

One thing that was not too surprising but interesting to note is that the Botanic Gardens is extremely multi-cultural. Much more so than the surrounding residential area and Belfast in general. It highlights the enjoyment of gardens across cultural lines.

I still haven't decided for sure whether I will use these voices or whether I will go for the live recorded approach but these interviews have really grounded my work in the Public and in the Botanic Gardens.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

beginnings of idea

So I have some beginnings of my idea for the installation in the ravine. Actually, I am more in the middle.

The ravine is divided into two spaces like so:

In my highly technical diagram you can see the two spaces labelled: POOL and RAVINE. These spaces are separated by a wall which is represented by the dotted line.

In the RAVINE I will have speakers hidden in various locations. From these speakers I will have spoken comments on the topic of sanctuary, conservatory, safety, escape (i haven't decided the exact slant for the asking of words from the public yet). My original idea was to have an answering machine-type device at the entrance and/or exit and ask people visiting to record a message about their thoughts on the ravine (e.g. why they are there? what feeling do they get while they are there?). However, after discussion with Michael, I think a more direct approach will be stronger. Possibly interviewing people asking for three words that come to mind when I say the word 'sanctuary' or something along those lines. This approach I believe will be more evocative of the feeling I want to create in the ravine.

In the POOL I have a more 'traditional' concept for a sound art installation. I have made a patch that measures the frequency spectrum of the live recorded sound (probably of the RAVINE or the surrounding botanic gardens. this is not decided yet). It then uses this to create deep bellowing meditative chords much like an organ but different. The chords play heavily with the subwoofer so if you have one attached to you computer, it is better.

This example ( is from sound from a microphone placed out the window at SARC going through the patch I made.

This example ( is a combination of the same microphone out the window and a water sound. It is interesting to note the change in the chords when water is added to the mix. Also, later in the recording a plane goes by and this further changes the chords... they become more aggressive.

With this I am hoping to create a 'sanctuary' or meditative space. The sounds aim to heighten the sense of sanctuary in the space and and encourage a state of contemplation. As the chords are affected by the ambient sound, this also heightens the sense of place and looks outward. That is, grounding the Tropical Ravine in its place as a sanctuary 'in relation to the world outside' as opposed to, 'in isolation from the world outside'... if that makes sense?

I don't want to go too off topic, but this distinction comes from the fact that I don't think I would have found the Tropical Ravine to be a sanctuary if it was located in the middle of the countryside. The fact is, the Tropical Ravine is in the middle of a city with a not too distant history of violence and aggression, amongst other things...

until the next post...

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