Echoes writes a sonic and psychic walk through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, from south to north. It explores the transformative aurality of the space and its playful potential. It draws on my memories of the tunnel as a child and contemporary observations. The piece is composed of a book and an audio track which are ‘read’ and ‘heard’ concurrently. The audio leads the participant through the book, in time with my progression through the tunnel. The piece evokes the playful, disruptive, and stimulating nature of sound in the tunnel through situated recordings, narrative, and the form of the book.
The piece draws on Blesser and Salter’s concept of an “aural architecture” which asserts that sound can reveal and communicate the qualities of a space. It is also influenced by the audio-walks of Janet Cardiff which encourage participants to re-experience space in embodied and psychic ways.
Echoes refuses fixed and linear relationships between the tunnel, critic, and participant. The participant accompanies me through my experience of the tunnel and is within an unfolding process of re-sounding and re-imagining a space which is shifting with each step. They are crucial to the actualization of the site-writing as without their participation, the pages and words remain unturned and inert. The participant is positioned at a vantage point where they can perceive me as the critic and mediator through the spoken first-person narrative. However, they can also directly sense the aurality and physicality of the space through situated sound recordings and references to spatial and temporal markers in the tunnel, such as ‘S53, S54, S55’, and its three distinct sections (the south entrance shaft, the tunnel itself, and the north entrance shaft).
Blesser, Barry and Linda-Ruth Salter, Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture (London: The MIT Press, 2009)
Cardiff, Janet, The Missing Voice (Case Study B), (Artangel, 1999) [audio file]
Kaye, Nick, Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation (London: Routledge, 2000)
Jones, Phil, ‘The Book as a Tunnel’, Intellect Limited, 3.2 (2013), 121-134
Rendell, Jane, Site-Writing: the architecture of art criticism (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010)