Installation at The Pad – this Saturday

Bedford Creative Arts are taking over The Pad for a couple of hours before the usual Saturday night madness with an interactive installation by Artist Kathy Hinde of the Echo Location project, which has seen groups of Bedfordians mapping the town through sound recording.  This installation uses surround sound and projection and invites you to draw sound lines across maps of Bedford to generate your own sound compositions from the sounds of the town.
Kathy Hinde is an Internationally renowned multimedia artist who has recently collaborated with Will Gregory (one half of the chart-topping duo, Goldfrapp) at London’s South Bank. Her work has been featured across Europe, South America and South East Asia and sound plays an important part of her work. In fact, it’s Bedford’s cultural diversity and bustling weekend activity that gave her no hesitation in accepting BCA’s invitation to premiere her Echo Location event in the town.

This event is free to attend, so if you fancy something a little different from your Saturday night, pop down – It will be far more interesting than spending an hour in one of the high st pubs!

Anyone attending is also free to stay for the usual LOADED night and saves you a trip out into the cold too..

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November 21st

Today I took over from Kathy Hinde to deliver my first Echo-location ‘walkshop’. As a studio artist at Bedford Creative Arts I learnt about Kathy’s project early on and have been helping out along the way. Before I met Kathy my exposure to the wide world of sound art had been limited. I came to the project inexperienced but curious – like many of those who have consequently participated on the project. Being a little green helps as you can ask what I feared might be ‘stupid’ questions. Thankfully Kathy was great at opening up the science, theory, and technology in a way that I found easy to understand.

I immediately found the whole idea of mapping the sounds of Bedford engaging and tantalising. I have lived in and around Bedford most of my life and as it normally goes I often find myself saying Bedford is weirder, more diverse, more charming, more underrated, than town A, B or C. But as an artist I often find it hard to separate the subjective from the objective. All of this often results in my occupation as the the AWOL Tourist Guide of Bedford when I stumble into other towns and countries. I reel of facts and conjectures avidly in an attempt to paint the town as the toughest, knarliest diamond in the rough that there ever was. Peppering normal conversations with exaggerated anecdotes of Wilko’s Sicilian checkout mafia, ‘unbelievable’ Midland Road visions, or our resident and untiring mobile street preacher.

As a result if anyone innocently compares Bedford to some-other-town or seem underwhelmed by its charms I can’t help feeling dashed and slightly embarrassed. Like many others I have adopted Bedford as ‘my town’.  Like anything close, Bedford is ingrained, it irritates and I’m extremely fond of it. So a chance to map Bedford is like traversing into my own psycho-geography and history to pull out some pearls and ‘show-off’. This project gives you a platfrom (and a mic) allowing you to map your personal and often intangible experience of a place. What results is a fluid symphony of the noise, mess and everyday magic flowing from the flood of people, things, processes and preoccupations of Bedford. I think it sounds brilliant. But then I guess I would…

I had a great time on this workshop and meeting the students of PLACE. We roamed Bedford in an attempt to capture the fleeting moments of the weird and wonderful it often offers up. We managed to serve up; The Horror Gate, just off Horne Lane, the Feeding Frenzy of the winged visitors along the Ouse, the automated tones of the pop-up marketing campaign (for the Hands Free Bin temporarily resident in the Harpur Centre), Thomas and his ‘commercially marooned’ Tank Engine, as well as a scattering of Squawks, Rattles, Clicks and Drops.

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Echo Location ‘Walkshop’, 12th November

The 4th walk in 4 days – out and about Bedford recording sounds… what fun. Today we had another enthusiastic group of people come together with a thirst for interesting sounds. We took ourselves down to the river where we noticed that the cygnets made ‘snorting’ sounds when you got up close to them… we roamed through the market and made our way to the auction house to get some recordings of the rhythmic sound-poems of the auctioneers. Everyone was up for trying to find unusual sounds, so we popped into a barbers to record hair clippers, into the post office for ‘cashier number 7’, into Lidl for tills and trolleys, we invested 60p to hear the pay & display meter give us a ticket, were relaxed at the sounds of windchimes at Froggy’s gifts and invited a waiter from ‘Chef Beijing’ to speak a bit of Mandarin for us… for which we are most grateful! Thanks everyone for a great day!… here are some pictures – … unfortunately donuts resting on pillars don’t make sounds, but hats off for checking…

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Out recording with North Herts College

Today we went out to make some recordings with students from North Herts College – based in Hitchen… I was really pleased to see thm because they had the added inconvenience of their minibus breaking down, so they came on the bus!… we went for quite a long and fruitful sound exploring walk, however, due to bus timetables we didn’t have time to edit and upload the sounds as a group. Everyone who took part has a copy of their sounds, so I’m looking forward to hearing the highlights appear on the soundmap over the next few weeks! Thanks for making such an effort to travel over to Bedford, I think we got some interesting sounds – including going up lots of flights of stairs into the gym opposite Debenhams on the Midland road, and recording a flying pig in Hawkins Bazaar… stranger things have happened…Thanks to everyone for taking part, and I look forward to listening to the NHC version of the Bedford soundmap.

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Out recording with Beds Garden Carers

A really enjoyable day out with Beds Garden Carers recording new sounds for the Echo Location Bedford soundmap. We decided to take a fairly short walk around – so we could spend time at various locations. Our first stop off point was a children’s playground, which provided a lot of interesting fodder for sound recordings – especially the squeaky gate. We then went to listen to the geese and ducks by the river, before heading back through the Harper centre, investing £1 to hear the childs toy bus ‘perform’ with plenty of beeping horns and bells! We then popped into the key cutting / shoe mending store and the man working behind the counter was happy to let us record him stapling a heel onto a boot and the sound of a key being cut. We were very pleased to be accommodated by such friendly shop keepers. After a break for lunch we got stuck into editing our recordings on Audacity and choose our favourite sounds to upload to the map. To listen to the soundscape from this walk – select BedsGardenCarers from the ‘Filter by User’ menu….Thanks very much to everyone who took part.

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Echo Location ‘Walkshop’, 9th November

Great day today with a really enthusiastic group of people who signed up for the Wednesday afternoon Echo Location ‘Walkshop’. Many more interesting and musical sounds uploaded to the map… it is expanding!… we went through town to start with and got all sorts of different sounds including the steam iron from the dry cleaners – then we divided up into smaller groups to explore the sonic delights of different parts of town. I was with a group down by the river and we used my hydrophone to listen to underwater sounds, which was really interesting… select hydrophone on the tag cloud and find out what it sounds like.

Remember – if you can’t make it along to an organised walk, you can take part at any point if you have a smart phone. Simply download the free app. ‘audioboo‘ onto your phone, set up an account – then make some recordings and tag your uploads ‘echoloc’ and they will be part of the Bedford Soundmap… go on – you know you want to!… the user name filtering is really starting to become interesting. If you select a particular user, it reveals their own personalised version of Bedford’s soundmap.

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Ludwig Koch

I have just spent 2 days in Bedford preparing for the next round of public ‘walkshops’, (Nov 9th & 12th) and also gathering material for the installation at the Pad (Dec 10th). Whilst out and about with my sound recording kit, I struck up conversations with quite a few local Bedfordians, and again had some fascinating conversations about the town – (dangling a hydrophone over a bridge into a weir does seem to prompt the inquisitive passer-by to ask what I’m up to). I was slightly taken aback when a man called Brian Meares who came up to me to ask if I was interested in Ludwig Koch, an early pioneer of wildlife sound recording. I was surprised, because I don’t often get a chance to have a conversation about Ludwig Koch – he was believed to be the first person to record a bird – using an Edison Wax cylinder in 1889 when he was only 8 years old. Coincidentally I had recently listened to a wonderful documentary on Ludwig Koch on resonance FM – which was a repeat of episode 57 of “Voice on Record” currently available to listen here and is full of beautiful bird recordings. I also found a radio 4 documentary here…. and more info here.

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Listening Walks: November 2011 – sign up!

The next Bedford Listening Walks with Kathy Hinde and Bedford Artist, Aaron Head, are now available for bookings. Record the sounds you hear, some familiar, some unusual, on our simple to use digital mini-recorders. No experience is necessary. Your sounds will be uploaded to the Echo Location soundmap and also form part of other Echo Location artworks.

Wednesday November 9th 1pm  – 4pm
Saturday November 12th 1pm- 4pm

Meeting Venue: Bedford Creative Arts

Please dress according to the weather, wearing comfortable footwear.

To book: email outlining which walk you would like to attend or call us on 01234 818670
Children over 12 are welcome if accompanied and supervised by an adult.

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Echo Location Installation at The Pad, Bedford

Kathy Hinde has been working with the sounds of Bedford to create an interactive installation using 4 channel sound and projection. This will be open to the public on Saturday December 10th from 7:30pm to 9:30pm at The Pad, Bedford. Kathy will be giving a short talk about the development of the work at 8:00pm.

Come and interact with the installation to immerse yourself in the Bedford soundscape. This installation builds on and further develops Kathy’s piece ‘Soundlines‘ created in Ghent, Belgium earlier this year. In this work, the user can draw onto a map of Ghent to reveal underwater recordings…. here is a taster…

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First Listening Walks

This weekend, we had our first Echo Location listening and sound recording walks to add to the ever growing and rich soundmap of Bedford.

It was great fun, and I was impressed with how many interesting sounds were recorded. We did end up running out of time, so not all the sounds have been uploaded to the map yet – but will be soon…. please keep checking!!

We started the session by looking at a few interactive sound maps, and talked a bit about what we might expect to find by mapping the sounds of Bedford. Everyone then teamed up into pairs, and got kitted up with a zoom H1 digital recorder, with 2 sets of headphones attached. We  made a short walk as a group without recording, but simpley listening to the world through a microphone, for a heightened and amplified listening experience of the familiar world around us. We got to the river and stayed still for a while to listen together in one place, rather than walking through a soundscape. This gave a different perspective, as we could observer a ‘stationary’ soundscape in more detail, whist also listening for passing, intermittent and occasional sounds.  It is amazing how revealing just listening to the world through a microphone can be, and how muh more away of the sound environment we become. It is quite a magical and immersive experience. Following that, we split off into groups to make recordings.

Everyone went out in their pairs, ‘tethered’ together by the dual headphone arrangement,  accompanied by a BCA helper with a clipboard, map and logging sheet to make notes of where there recordings were made, in order to make accurate uploads onto the online map later on. We thought it would be interesting to tag the map by using red stickers for ‘human’ sounds, green stickers for ‘nature’ sounds and blue stickers for ‘machine / object’ sounds…. but of course, there is usually some kind of cross-over in this broad catergorisation, and therefore this exercise was simply to give us a rough idea of the kind of sounds people had recorded, and the distribution of the colours on the map was interesting to see.

here is a photo of one of the maps after a sound recording walk…

We then all had a go with the free sound editing software ‘Audacity’ to neaten up and edit our sounds a bit, ready to upload to the map. People then took their edited short sounds away to upload to the map from home as – unfortunately, due to the prolific nature of everyone involved –  we ran out of time…!

Thanks for everyone who took part – and remember – you can easily continue to take part and contribute sounds to the sound map if you have a smartphone and download the audioboo application. If you would like to take part in a future listening and sound recording walk, then do get in touch with Bedford Creative Arts, on 01234 818670.

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