Case Studies

Resonant Bodies | 2018 | V&A Museum

Resonant Bodies is a 4 channel work commissioned by Prof Eric de Visscher and V&A Research Institute (VARI) for the South Asia Gallery of the V&A Museum as part of London Design Festival 2018. The work brings the sounds of a number of 19th century Indian classical instruments to life on the glass of their display case. Resonators attached to the case cause the surface of the glass to vibrate with recordings of the sounds of the instruments – effectively acting as a giant speaker and allowing the ordinarily silent instruments within the case to ‘speak’ to a visitor.

I used recordings of similar instruments as a starting point for the composition. One of those recordings is of the actual Bin Sitar in the case that was restored and played for the Darbar Musical Wonders of India project a few years ago and I find it an extraordinary experience looking at the object within the case and hearing its sound emanate from the glass.

VIDEO: Brief introduction to Resonant Bodies

AUDIO: Resonant Bodies, excerpt 01 C Devine | 2018

Poetics of (Outer) Space | 2015 | IKON Gallery

Poetics of (Outer) Space explores the natural acoustic resonances of stars and the orbits of newly discovered exoplanets. Sited in Birmingham’s historic landmark, Perrott’s Folly, the multi channel work presents sonified data from the NASA Kepler mission as an evolving composition. In this way starlight is translated to sound – described by Devine as “reimagining the Music of the Spheres in the age of the exoplanet”. Poetics of (Outer) Space is presented as a ‘vertical’ composition which rises up through the folly with stars positioned according to their age, frequency range and the number of exoplanets they host. Frequencies relating to the natural acoustic resonances of the youngest star can be heard on the first floor of the folly with the top floor housing sounds relating to the recently discovered (but ancient) Kepler-444 star system and the orbits of its five exoplanets.

Realised with the generous assistance of Arts Council England, Poetics of (Outer) Space was developed throughout 2014 during Devine’s Leverhulme Artist Residency with the Solar and Stellar Physics Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham. Devine has collaborated with Professor Bill Chaplin and the group since 2012 and has incorporated solar data into a number of sound works including Space Ham for BBC Radio 3 (2013), Oscillate for SOUNDWORKS, ICA (2012) and 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun (2012) – shortlisted for a BASCA British Composer Award in 2013.

VIDEO: Documentation of Poetics of (Outer) Space

AUDIO: Honor Harger, director of Art Science Museum, Singapore discusses Devine’s work for Sounds of Space, BBC World Service | 2015

City of Things | 2017 | MK Gallery

City of Things is a 60 channel sound installation that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ‘new town’ of Milton Keynes. Commissioned by Bletchley Park Codebreaking centre in partnership with MK Gallery and the Cowper and Newton Museum and set within the Grade II listed shopping centre building, City of Things opens the city of Milton Keynes up to the ears, providing playful, unexpected encounters with the histories, the people, the secret sounds and the poetics of the city.

I used field recordings and residents voices as the starting point for a composition that features local birds, bats, mosquitos, buddhists, football fans, choirs and the voice of performance poet Murray Lachlan Young. I invited Murray to provide the voice of the poet William Cowper – who lived locally in the 18th century – and I also asked Murray to collaborate on a number of ‘poetic soundworks’ that combined his poetry with my field recordings in response to the current landscape of the city. I embedded the sound into the building itself using a system of resonators on the huge glass windows of the Grade II listed shopping centre, speakers hidden in plants and trees and sound diffused over the tannoy system.

VIDEO: Brief introduction to City of Things

AUDIO: Caroline Devine interviewed by Verity Sharp about City of Things for Exposure, BBC Radio 3 | 2017

On Air | 2013 | The Open University

On Air is a 60 channel sound installation that floats in the air around The Open University campus. 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.

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 was shortlisted for a BASCA British Composer Award in 2014.

VIDEO: Brief introduction to On Air

AUDIO: On Air, excerpt C Devine | 2013