Song Sung When
Audio installation, 2015
One of four commissions by Biddulph Grange Garden, National Trust as part of the Trust New Art programme
Shown alongside work by Sarah Tulloch, Rebecca and Katy Beinart and Laura Youngson-Coll
Song Sung When is a series of installations that bring sounds recordings from collections around the world to the garden. Inserting archive sound recordings into the garden collection connects plants with the country of their origin and complicates the nineteenth century English appropriation of flora and fauna. These voices interrupt and reshape our experience and relationship with the plants, asking questions about collections (both the garden and the sound archives) in relation to history and geography.
"An English afternoon is suddenly interrupted by song, floating across the water from elsewhere....the effect of this and the other sound works in the collection, create a jolt – a rupture in the fabric of the day, throwing the listener into some other time and place, which feels ancient, other-worldly and at odds with the Englishness of aday out with the National Trust.' Read the rest of Anna Francis' review of Dangerous Discoveries for A-N. Go here to read her review.
The archive recordings used in this work were made in Italy, California, Nepal and Morroco between 1954 and 1969 by sound recordists and researchers, and come from collections at the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford and with the personal permission of Alfred Pietroforte, California whose recordings (from his book Yokuts and Paiute Songs and Culture) are also listed in the Library of Congress. The connection, whether bureaucratic or personal, with the institutions and people who hold these collections provoked a set of responses which it was not possible to include in the public aspects of the project, but which underpinned much of the project; the archivists and administrators forming an unseen group of listeners and audience.
The recording below was installed along the length of the pinetum. The other installations were located in the Wellingtonia (sequoia) avenue, the rhododendron ground, and rose parterre.