forthcoming book & sound works - focusing on side setbacks in Japan - taking a hint from a book on the overlooked aspects of urban design

aspects of the project have been performed and exhibited in the UK and Japan.


I listen in to these spaces
watching them closely

and the visual interchangeable;
seeing sound
hearing images

A swing slowing to an almost imperceivable back and forth.

A women’s shoes approaching, passing-by and fading into the distance.

A haze in the air.

always tourist
even amongst the familiar
finding newness
momentary shifts
not fixed to guidebooks
sights so famous they are obscured fame
ideas placed
expected, fixed, sealed
sound tourism
the idyll
now what is actually there
creating fictions.

intuitive response
effect of place
remaining inquisitive.

My daughter, the artist Pheobe riley Law, created a set of pieces for her installation during one of our residencies in Japan, entitled ‘tourist’ (3). The photographic images that formed part of each piece were taken in the tourist spot of the Arashiyama bamboo grove near Kyoto. In them Pheobe is leaning in, over and through the reed fences along the path. She is looking at nothing that is there to intentionally draw the eye. Instead she is celebrating her own movement through that space and that particular time in her life; her first visit to Japan, and the interplay between sensory overload, excitement and finding a playful yet considered artistic response to the experience. As an artist she is working through the roles of gesture and performance. In my own work on this trip I too am celebrating not only the often overlooked aspects of our surroundings but my own point in time. I hear things in this way, in this time, with this current sense of what fascinates me. In the line between attempting to convey that and expecting it to be audible or visible to others there is space.

traces | located sounds

memory has horizons
bright lit, mist, static

A haze appeared across mine in 2020, and it still lingers. I kept returning to this work, pushing myself to connect the listening at each location to its present mirror. Tracing, mapping through this other space between then and now.

I look back at photographs. Often we didn't take any of ourselves recording, nor did we actively maintain a system for separating images of sites recorded from those of elsewhere. Previously that was never needed, my mind building detailed, re-playable films, soundtracked and complete. The haze is fading, though even now I have to tease out the connections between image, sound and memories of being there, at those times.

Between two small one-way roads there's a park. A thin, green strip-island where workers sit to eat or families from the apartment blocks on either side bring their children or pets. Language as sound is something I enjoy listening to. I am aware that, if translated, I might listen differently. I try to learn other languages but I have a desire for the music rather than always the narrative. My notes are confused. I am listening now, years later, to the border between my hyper-sensitivity to place in-situ and the vagaries of memory, of our ability to slip elements from each other. I labelled this recording with the word glitches, referring to a digital artefact. It seems there are others less fixed, with softer edges that re-shape themselves.

A side street shaded with a constant low frequency. Flight paths scratching in around the edges. I can’t now fully recall which street, or how I perceived its sounds at the time. That low hum seems so intense. How odd that my memory had edited the connections to the visual here. I can though hear the summer heat.


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