On Air

A lovely sunny day for On Air, my large scale sound installation throughout The Open University campus in Milton Keynes. On Air is a 60 channel work that floats in the air around the campus. More than 100 speakers diffuse an acoustic layer made from the voices of OU researchers, archive material, echolocations of local bats, musical elements, electromagnetic signals and field recordings gathered from around the site. The recordings are re-introduced back into the environment from which they came, as though the ideas, lines of enquiry and histories of The Open University exist permanently on the air currents throughout the campus and are made temporarily audible by the work.

On Air is one of four artworks commissioned across the regions for the University of the Air project, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Harold Wilson speech and OU research. On Air is the commission for England and focuses on design and technology research.

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Space Ham review, Radio Times

Review of Space Ham by David Crawford in the Radio Times:

The image of amateur radio enthusiasts is indelibly linked in my mind to that of Tony Hancock. But it seems they’re a much more inspiring bunch than that, as this fascinating feature shows.

Since the beginning of the space age, “hams” have been intercepting transmissions from space and, in the case of astronaut Owen K Garriott, taking amateur radio broadcasts onto space stations.

“Found space-sound” artist Caroline Devine weaves these transmissions into her own composition, combining them with ethereal sounds of space to hypnotic effect. It’s a space oddity, but entrancing and magical.

ABOUT THIS PROGRAMME
Sound artist Caroline Devine celebrates amateur radio and space exploration with a composition featuring the ethereal sounds of the cosmos and the ham enthusiasts who recorded them. Owen K Garriott reveals why he was the first astronaut to take amateur radio into space, and there’s newly released archive of US radio operator Roy Welch, who immediately after Sputnik’s launch, rigged up a makeshift station, looking up to the night sky as the satellite’s eerie beat found voice in his ramshackle equipment.

SPACE HAM PICK OF THE WEEK BBC Radio 4

SPACE HAM featured on Radio 4’s Pick of the Week on Sunday.
Space Ham is available to listen again on the BBC iplayer until the new episode of Between the Ears airs this Saturday.
Review by David Crawford in the Radio Times

The image of amateur radio enthusiasts is indelibly linked in my mind to that of Tony Hancock. But it seems they’re a much more inspiring bunch than that, as this fascinating feature shows.

Since the beginning of the space age, “hams” have been intercepting transmissions from space and, in the case of astronaut Owen K Garriott, taking amateur radio broadcasts onto space stations.

“Found space-sound” artist Caroline Devine weaves these transmissions into her own composition, combining them with ethereal sounds of space to hypnotic effect. It’s a space oddity, but entrancing and magical.

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SPACE HAM on BBC Radio 3

SPACE HAM, an episode of Between the Ears celebrating the relationship between amateur radio and space exploration will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 9.30pm this evening. SPACE HAM is a collaboration between myself and Producer, Rose de Larrabeiti of Whistledown Productions. SPACE HAM includes the recordings of many amateurs, including VLF recordings from Paul Nicholson and Wolf Buescher and Ham recordings of ISS contacts from Matthias DD1US Sounds of Space collection. Thanks to all those who provided material and to Roy W0SL for his wonderful recording of the first Sputnik signals from 1957. I synthesised many of the other sounds from scratch using sine waves to explore heterodyning, the Doppler effect and other acoustic phenomena.

From the BBC website:

Since the dawn of the Space Age, amateur “ham” radio has eavesdropped on our exploration of the cosmos. From Sputnik to the International Space Station, radio enthusiasts with homemade kit have been able tune into the distant sounds of space and talk to those exploring it. Caroline Devine, found space-sound artist, creates a composition from the ethereal sounds of space and the space hams and sends Between the Ears into orbit.

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Recording of 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun

5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun was installed to coincide with the 2012 summer solstice and played in a dome in Milton Keynes Theatre District for six weeks over the summer. This excerpt drifts between a live recording in the Dome and the original composition. The project was made possible with funding from Arts Council England and support from MK Gallery.

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Original data are courtesy of the Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network (BiSON) research team, School of Physics and Astronomy, Birmingham University. VLF recording courtesy of Paul Nicholson and Wolf Buescher.

ICA Soundworks

My piece Oscillate is included in ICA Soundworks, an exhibition to coincide with Bruce Nauman’s work “Days” at the ICA, London. As part of its season on sound, the ICA commissioned more than a hundred artists to make a work that takes its stimulus from the themes evoked in “Days”. The works are available online and within the gallery at the ICA until September 16th. Oscillate is made from the BiSON data that I used for my recent sound installation, 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun. The piece is a study of sine waves that relate to the natural resonances within the sun. A sine wave can be thought of as a mathematical description of time and the patterns brought about by combining different sine waves can produce a hovering, non-teleological sense of time that I seek to explore.

The image below is a spectrogram of the piece with time along the x axis and frequency along the y axis. All the frequencies used in Oscillate are direct transpositions of acoustic waves that manifest as gentle oscillations of the solar surface and have been measured by the BiSON research team at Birmingham University. The data has been sped up a million times to bring it within the frequency range of human hearing.

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5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun begins…

Oscillations

At midday today, 21st June – the longest day of the year, my new sound installation, 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun, begins playing in a dome in the theatre district, Milton Keynes.

The piece is an exploration of naturally occurring radio signal and solar activity and alternates every five minutes between acoustic and electromagnetic “listening modes” that provide new ways to “listen” to the sun.

For the acoustic listening modes, I used data courtesy of the BiSON research team at Birmingham University and translated it into a composition. I calculated the frequencies “sped up” one million times so that they corresponded with human hearing frequency range and made tones at those frequencies with a tone generator. All the “overtones” that can be heard within these passages relate to natural resonances present within the sun’s interior.

During the electromagnetic listening modes, naturally occurring radio signals are sent toward the roof of the dome and though these signals are tiny, they can be clearly heard. The dome is used like a giant instrument to amplify and focus the delicate sounds.

The installation runs daily from 12 noon to 9pm and can be heard by walking through the dome anytime between those hours. More information about the process involved in making the work will be available to read in the new MK Gallery Reading Space from 28 June along with an audio file of the entire composition.

5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun has been made possible with public funding from Arts Council England and has received additional support from MK Gallery. Many thanks to radio enthusiasts Paul Nicholson and Wolf Buescher from whose live stream, I recorded the VLF radio sounds.

Everyone is welcome to come to a listening event to hear the piece in the dome on the evening of 27 June at 7.45pm.

More information available on MK Gallery website.

Autapia

My new sound installation Autapia is playing in Milton Keynes Gallery Project Space until 27th November as part of the current exhibition on new towns, Community Without Propinquity. Commissioned by Claire Louise Staunton of Inheritance Projects, Autapia is a sound portrait of the new town of Milton Keynes. Comprising field recordings interwoven with thoughts, ideas and experiences, all the archive material comes from old tape cassettes found in public and private archives, including the Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre. The installation is diffused through speakers I modified that are more commonly associated with large public address systems such as those found in supermarkets.

Autapia, Caroline Devine 2011

Documenting Bletchley Park

I am collaborating with photographer, Rachael Marshall and installation artist, Maya Ramsay, on the documentation of buildings at Bletchley Park that are to be renovated. Our new blog is here.

We have been granted access to make work in Blocks C and D, previously inaccessible to the public due to their state of repair. Rachael has been photographing the buildings in their current state and will document the renovation process throughout. Maya makes works by lifting pigment debris and texture from surfaces in the built environment and has been working on surfaces in both blocks. I have been capturing sounds within and outside the buildings. Block C in particular is a really challenging environment – many of the ceilings have collapsed and several of the rooms are inhabited by pigeons who fly towards flashlights and head torches!

It is amazing to be granted access and, in spite of their inhospitable states, both blocks are strangely compelling due to their incredible histories. Block C is chiefly boarded up but a skylight near the back of the building has allowed enough light in combination with the damp environment for a “garden” to form. The pigeons seem to have established their individual territories and one in particular spends most of the day hopping around this garden space.

Photo by Rachael Marshall

Recording Contract Recordings – New Art MK

New Art MK opened with a well attended preview at Milton Keynes Gallery on 7th July.

The sound installation, Recording Contract Recordings has been an opportunity for me to work with various spaces in and around the gallery and to use those spaces as an element of composition. The main sound installation is situated in the cube gallery. Every 35 minutes, a section of the piece is broadcast simultaneously inside the cube and “through the walls” into the public square, connecting inside and outside space. The section consists of tiny piano fragments recorded within the body of the piano and diffused through horn speakers into the square.

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