7 episodes

A series of audio works commissioned by The Common Guild.

‘In the open’ is a series of audio works that have been conceived during lockdown conditions and devised for listening during our daily walks and time outdoors. Prompted by the restrictions necessitated by Covid-19, and the way these continue to affect our public and social lives, ‘In the open’ has been created as a way of connecting, at a time when we are separated.

The project comprises seven new works by Glasgow-based artists Luke Fowler, Lauren Gault, Ashanti Harris, Sulaïman Majali, Duncan Marquiss, and Margaret Salmon, each working from different points of reference and experience to explore geographies, histories and globally linked emotions, with Glasgow’s parks, green spaces, and other walking routes of the city in mind.

The works take various forms – experimental sound, field recordings, readings, performance and conversation – with each reflecting different rhythms and altered soundscapes in the city. They may offer forms of intimacy, emotional trajectories, diaristic journeys and touch without touching; suggest a redefinition of our relationship to nature and the city as a strategy for living; propose new understandings of time and location; or else provide a record of the unseen forces and invisible labour that supports society.

Designed for headphones, the works are imagined as being listened to outdoors but can of course be listened to anywhere and will exist beyond this particular place and present moment in time.

In the open The Common Guild

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

A series of audio works commissioned by The Common Guild.

‘In the open’ is a series of audio works that have been conceived during lockdown conditions and devised for listening during our daily walks and time outdoors. Prompted by the restrictions necessitated by Covid-19, and the way these continue to affect our public and social lives, ‘In the open’ has been created as a way of connecting, at a time when we are separated.

The project comprises seven new works by Glasgow-based artists Luke Fowler, Lauren Gault, Ashanti Harris, Sulaïman Majali, Duncan Marquiss, and Margaret Salmon, each working from different points of reference and experience to explore geographies, histories and globally linked emotions, with Glasgow’s parks, green spaces, and other walking routes of the city in mind.

The works take various forms – experimental sound, field recordings, readings, performance and conversation – with each reflecting different rhythms and altered soundscapes in the city. They may offer forms of intimacy, emotional trajectories, diaristic journeys and touch without touching; suggest a redefinition of our relationship to nature and the city as a strategy for living; propose new understandings of time and location; or else provide a record of the unseen forces and invisible labour that supports society.

Designed for headphones, the works are imagined as being listened to outdoors but can of course be listened to anywhere and will exist beyond this particular place and present moment in time.

    Luke Fowler – A walk through a different city

    Luke Fowler – A walk through a different city

    Luke Fowler’s second acoustic work for ‘In the open’ is a sound portrait of Glasgow’s urban core, emptied out of human presence during the months of lockdown earlier this year. Edited from over 500 hours of audio recordings, ‘A walk through a different city’ traces a sonic journey that begins at the top of Sauchiehall Street, winds through alleyways and lanes, past hotels and empty car parks before taking in Buchanan Street – the heart of Glasgow’s commercial shopping district – heading south through a deserted Central Station, and concluding under the Kingston Bridge, by the River Clyde.

    ‘A walk through a different city’ frames the city’s acoustic environment at the height of the pandemic, defamiliarized through the absence of crowds. This radically altered ambience allows us to tune into a broader and more nuanced soundscape to the one we are accustomed to. With the shoppers, buskers and traffic gone, Fowler’s microphones instead amplify impressions from a transformed acoustic environment; extractor fans, electricity boxes and triggered alarms systems polarise our sonic experience. A vibrating undercurrent to the ordinary ambience of the city, the drones, rumbles and fluctuating tones at times take on a meditative, almost harmonic quality, whilst at others feel abrasive and disquieting.

    The social sounds we do hear punctuate our perceptual field – snatches of overheard conversation, the sound of floors being mopped and bins being jet-washed, construction work being hastily erected and tannoy announcements being made. These encounters and micro-events map our social behaviour and trace new patterns emerging during these highly sensitive and anxious times.

    ‘A walk through a different city’ is a companion piece to ‘The Pitches’; a sound portrait of North Kelvin Meadow / The Children’s Wood. Both works document the ways in which the pandemic has altered the sonic and psychological experience of the city and its inhabitants.

    With thanks to Alex Kapranos, Eric La Casa, and Mark Vernon.

    From In the open, track released September 11, 2020.
    © Luke Fowler
    All rights reserved

    • 35 min
    Sulaïman Majali – strange winds

    Sulaïman Majali – strange winds

    ‘strange winds’ (2020) is part of a constellation of works that centre on a recurrent ghostly figure described by Majali as an ‘impossible protagonist’, who is both individual and multitude, and moves through the landscapes of a diasporic imaginary, colliding with reflections in the colonial.

    In this sound work, we’ve climbed a hill to see a sun rise. The spectre inhabits a glitching, distorted phone recording, crawling up through the throat of the device; a cry, a groan, a tired scream, a gasp, an exhale. In a translation of A Thousand and One Nights (1), Scheherazade diverges to warn us of an approaching dawn, as a spreading zodiacal light sings at 110hz. From here, it’s all a widening expanse; an owl, in a field recording of a Spring sunrise(2), looks out at the depths and heights of mourning. We are reminded that surviving the king takes place in the realm of the breath – and that survival is a weapon under structures of disposability. Where r we. Synthetic swift song flocks overhead – we’re sitting, the sky still dark pretty much, and a stretched hum, like skin, erupts, strings out questions at its borders.

    something dense bends at the horizon, towards liberating futures, and in them we’re growing more alive

    “this is nothing, scheherazade answered,
    to that which i would tell u tomorrow night,
    if i were still alive and the king wished to preserve me.”

    __
    1. The end of the fourth night from "The Tale of the Wazir of King Yunan and Rayyan the Doctor", read by @Arabian Whispers ASMR, Arabian Nights ASMR 🌌 Whisper Reading part 6, Jan 25th 2019.

    2. Field recording of a sunrise taken on Sunday 26th April 2020 from a viewpoint marked by a flagless flagpole in Queens Park, Glasgow, Scotland, designed to view the full expanse of the city in a given direction.

    ‘strange winds’ can be listened to seated, outdoors, maybe 17 minutes before a sunrise.

    With thanks to Jessica Hickie-Kallenbach (Vocals); the sunrise of Sunday 26th April 2020; 'Arabian Whispers ASMR'; Oscar Prentice-Middleton; Karim Kattan; 皚桐; Scheherazade.

    Mastering by Stephan Mathieu / Schwebung Mastering.
    Design by Maeve Redmond.

    From 'In the open', track released September 4, 2020.
    © Sulaïman Majali
    All rights reserved

    • 18 min
    Ashanti Harris – History Haunts the Body

    Ashanti Harris – History Haunts the Body

    Ashanti Harris’ ‘History Haunts the Body’ (2020) is a continuation of the artist’s research into the historical relationship between Guyana, where the artist was born, and Scotland, the artist’s home, taking in the ignored and forgotten legacies of a historical, female diaspora.

    Guyana was subject to British colonial rule for over two centuries, during which time the country’s sugar plantations in Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice were worked by enslaved African people and governed predominantly by wealthy Scots. This colonial control led to movement between the two countries; a history that remains largely unexplored, particularly the presence of Afro-Caribbean women across Scotland.

    ‘History Haunts the Body’ tells the stories of four Guyanese women who, along with their children, were part of Scottish society in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their complex histories are recounted by a single female voice, accompanied by outdoor rural and coastal soundscapes recorded in various locations where the women were known to have lived or visited. A soundscape recorded at Cromarty Harbour in the Black Isle provides a transportive undercurrent to the audio narration from beginning to end. A low mechanical hum – the sound of a ship approaching and passing by the harbour – grows in intensity throughout the duration of the work and acts as a kind of chronos, folding together the present with the past.

    The work is intended as a process of physically embodying and revivifying these histories as they literally enter into the body through the act of listening. A second voice guides the listener through a series of physical awareness and body-centring exercises as a way of holding, internalising and meditating on these women’s extraordinary lived experiences.

    This second voice acts as a calming presence, offering relaxation techniques and reminding listeners to "breathe", contrasting the often difficult and challenging facts of these women’s lives. The voice could also be heard as speaking directly to the women in the stories; providing notes of care, support and resilience as they face the violence of colonial rule and the punitive realities of Imperial society in Scotland and the Caribbean at this time.

    Harris will present a live monologue and sound performance ‘Virgo’(2020) via Instagram Live on Thursday 3 September 2020. ‘Virgo’ draws deeper into the artist's research of the life of Elizabeth ‘Eliza’ Junor (1804–61), one of the four Guyanese women whose history in colonial Guyana and Scotland is introduced through this audio work.

    This work can be listened to at home but we recommend listening outdoors with headphones.

    With thanks to Adebusola Ramsay, David Alston and Jen Martin.
    Mastering by Stephan Mathieu / Schwebung Mastering.
    Design by Maeve Redmond.

    From the album 'In the open', track released August 28, 2020.
    © Ashanti Harris
    All rights reserved

    • 23 min
    Margaret Salmon – Clouded

    Margaret Salmon – Clouded

    Birthed in sadness, a teardrop falls from a feeling eye into The River Kelvin, descending to its littered riverbed. 

    Hitting the bottom, the teardrop is transformed into fresh water. It lingers atop a murky soil for a time, then follows a current up through the Kelvin’s aquatic soup to its surface. There, warmed by sun and summer heat, our teardrop evaporates. It ascends in a hot thermal push up through the air and joins a cumulus cloud.

    Margaret Salmon’s ‘Clouded’ (2020) is a listener's meditation on watery feeling, air flow, horizons, moisture and the sky; a cyclic journey that begins at the Kelvin Bridge in Glasgow’s West End and follows the river to the Clyde Estuary and skywards.

    Using field recordings, spoken word, musical sounds and based upon scientific and aural intuitions Margaret Salmon presents a listener's companion to cumulus clouds, tears, rivers and more. In this imaginative rumination on interdependency and restorative release she traces the path of water from our terrestrial bodies into the sky, then back to earth. 

    Clouds migrate, moving freely above the earth. Border-free and nationless, they are anti-commodities that redeem and destroy, without recourse to human narratives or preoccupations. Clouds are badass. Learning about clouds can be enlightening, but the eye and the mind can appreciate their nebulous configurations without any prior instruction. This audio guide is intended to encourage and support the wonder of cloud gazing – one of the simplest and most enduring forms of human observation – and to share thoughts about water and transformation in nature.

    Salmon's audio meditation can be listened to outdoors, indoors, up in the air, underground.


    Written, performed and edited by Margaret Salmon.
    Sound Recordist: Pete Smith
    Additional Sound: Margaret Salmon

    With thanks to Katrina Brown, Chloe Reith, Ulysses, Eglantine and Philomena Salmon Wiand, The River Kelvin and Glaswegian skies.

    Mastering by Stephan Mathieu / Schwebung Mastering.
    Design by Maeve Redmond.

    From 'In the open', track released August 21, 2020.
    © Margaret Salmon
    All rights reserved

    • 13 min
    Duncan Marquiss – Contact Call

    Duncan Marquiss – Contact Call

    Duncan Marquiss’ ‘Contact Call’ (2020) is a series of improvised instrumentals played on electric guitar; the result of the artist’s close study of birdcalls heard during spring and summer 2020 when Scotland was experiencing lockdown.  

    Birds’ vocalisations can transmit over long distances and cut through loud urban environments, but the lack of activity and traffic noise over this period allowed their interactions to be picked out more readily by the human ear. Contact calls, as distinct from birdsong, are short phrases that birds share back and forth as a way of maintaining contact whilst foraging for food. These avian dialogues, where a near call is answered by another bird at a distance, create patterns of call-and-response which are emulated here by guitar sounds and rhythms.

    Marquiss’ recordings mimic specific bird calls with the guitar, imitating phrases, high pitches or percussive sounds, and offering pauses, as birds do, that leave room for the listener’s immediate surroundings to accompany the sounds played. Some sections are clearly bird-like whilst other parts are more random musical meanders that emerged from playing around. ‘Contact Call’ is an edited selection from these experimental recordings.

    Many bird calls are impossible to simulate, but this process was a starting point for improvisation and for finding a new approach to a familiar musical instrument. As a filmmaker, Marquiss often creates soundtracks with the guitar for his own moving image work and in a similar way ‘Contact Call’ can be used as a soundtrack for a walk, generating a particular atmosphere in your head. 

    The studied birdcalls were heard during frequent walks around Queen’s Park, Linn Park and Pollok Park in Glasgow. This piece reflects on our acoustic ecologies, and the need to share bandwidth with other species.

    This work can be listened to at home but we recommend listening outdoors with headphones.

    Music written, performed and recorded by Duncan Marquiss.
    With thanks to Kimberley O'Neill, Mick Marquiss and Anne Marquiss.

    From 'In the open', track released August 14, 2020.
    © Duncan Marquiss
    All rights reserved

    • 30 min
    Lauren Gault – Méduse

    Lauren Gault – Méduse

    ‘Méduse’ (2020) explores geological time, myth and geographical space with reference to the Fossil Grove, an ancient petrified forest preserved in Glasgow’s Victoria Park.

    Weaving together experimental sound and spoken journey, ‘Méduse’ witnesses these trees’ slow evolution from the swampy tropical forests of the Carboniferous period to their present geographical position and material form. Through sibilant sounds and hissing clay, the imperceptible activity and micromovements of dissolution and decay is made apparent. ‘Méduse’ observes natural cycles of reformation and reanimation across millions of years as the trees collapse, hollow out and are compacted into the earth to remain petrified underground as the land slowly drifts north, away from the equator, taking in a world history as they go.

    Eleven fossilised stumps of extinct lycopod trees were discovered during the expansion of Victoria Park in 1887, preserved in the place where they grew 325 million years ago; forms orphaned from their own time to become concurrent with ours. Carboniferous trees are better known in the present for their use-value as fossil fuels, but the material shapeshifting performed by the trees of Fossil Grove has allowed them to gain the status of protected objects to be maintained in a covered enclosure within the park.

    The dormant, apparently lifeless state of the Fossil Grove tree stumps is reconsidered through the articulation of deep geological timescales as the petrified trees are reanimated as slow actors in the present time – a reminder that the past exists concurrently with the present and that stasis can be a source of agency and protection.

    Gault narrates an associative and visceral journey that roams in multiple directions delving into facets of time and connecting places and ideas like root systems underground. From the digestive systems of mammals, to a petrified wood gas station in Colorado, Gault’s rhythmical musings construct phantom shapes from what is less visible, creating a new world myth of petrification.

    'Méduse' features field recordings of the environment around Fossil Grove, amongst an abundance of aural images, watery noises and warped vocals as well as the harmonious sound of 'ringing rocks’; stones that resonate at different frequencies when struck, thought to have be used as prehistoric instruments.

    This work can be listened to at home but we recommend listening outdoors with headphones.

    With thanks to Victoria Park and Fossil Grove, Richy Carey, Hayley Gault and Joe Morton.

    Sound Editing by Richy Carey.
    Mastering by Stephan Mathieu / Schwebung Mastering.
    Design: Maeve Redmond.

    From 'In the open', track released August 7, 2020.
    © Lauren Gault
    All rights reserved

    • 23 min

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