James Alec Hardy is a fine artist known internationally for his multi-screen based video installation and crossover audio and video performance works. His practice is based upon a philosophical enquiry between consciousness and the connection to the materialist world. Using feedback generated through obsolete analogue technology from the 20th Century, he creates chaotic systems, manipulated by humans.
For Musicity x Low Line, he created an audio piece for Wild Flower Meadow. A composition constructed of acoustic drones recorded on site, processed through a Sun and Moon Mirror Synth which was originated during a recent residency on an adjoining location in SE1.
Here, he shares his insights:
Wild Flower Meadow is a small discrete plot of land, which was formerly part of Druid Street before it got severed from Tooley St in order to reduce traffic flow. Southwark council have reclaimed and diversified the site as part of its biodiversity action plan.
In attempts to make the Low Line more scenic, the interstitial site, acts as a connecting walkway and adds a greener lushness juxtapositioned to the historic london-brick viaduct of the railway lines egressing London Bridge Station.
I had recently completed a residency at a neighbouring site, during which I had engaged on a deeper level with collecting natural phenonema and incorporating into feedback systems to act as stimuli. Through which I had created a moon-mirror synth, and then a sun-mirror synth which took the light and form as a trigger for the video and audio system.
Incorporating this as the instrument and compositional tool for the project, I wanted to create a sound work which is based on the hum of resonant drones present, and constantly shifting audio dynamics of the site, which can be woven and blended with the fluctuating variations within the work. My approach is to consider the piece as a “‘thought’ within a thought”, a temporal pause within the liminality, both in the designed utility of the greenspace, and in the necessity of slowing down, and also reclaiming legitimacy of “hanging out” rather than loitering.
Typically I am averse to the public wearing of headphones, and so it was a unique challenge to produce an audio work which relied upon them to experience the work.
Using a field recorder to initially explore the area sonically, I paced around the perimeter clockwise from the railway tunnel roadside on the South point, to the tree at the North side surrounded by a stone turning circle with compass points. Using headphones to sensitively monitor key positions around my survey, I captured the vast layered complexity of urban noise which is often filtered out, and focused on recording the lower hums and any traces of wildlife, and human activity.
These became the founding textural structures for then producing the composition which is designed to pair with, and be heard mixed with the existing ambient sounds of the meadow.
From the original field survey, approximately 40 live versions were recorded in the studio, with traces of past takes being allowed to bleed through into the next, meaning that certain key orchestrations and phases are more dominant with the drone, which becomes more clarified on repeated listening.
It is recommended that the track is listened to on loop, for at least 3 reprisals, and is heard walking in a clockwise direction until a suitable position is found to sit or stand.