What constitutes the research? A reflection on how live site-specific soundwork projects have evolved in the practice, from idea to realisation.


On reflection and whilst midway through two recent projects, I notice patterns emerging as strategies in the course of different approaches to devising a soundwork. Some are planned, others evolve and rely significantly on communication with other people alongside research at the physical site, on the internet, in the studio and beyond.

The methodology, contextually indebted to the dialogues of site-specific art, performance and sound improvisation, has emerged as a multi-disciplinary one; fed and constantly tested by the need to respond to different sites for different projects and by a compulsion to convey something of the particularity of the site through sound by using relevant materials and, on occasion, with the assistance of others.

Conversations, my own and others’ responses to a space, much deliberation, changing of mind, experiments in my studio at home, the useof photographs, recordings and plans, all develop gradually. Other, less expected inspirations are brought in. For example an improvisational session with sound artist Iris Garrelfs, that encouraged the value and importance in allowing for an unrehearsed improvisatory element and similarly being intrigued by the physical properties of objects in relation to the sonic properties they harbour and can reveal, once activated. I came to recognise also, the importance of the development of what has become a series of accompanying project files.

Once underway each discreet file gives credence to the new project idea whilst providing a small potential archive for what is evolving. In this physical file may rest the open call for submission or invitation to devise a site-specific soundwork, copies of email correspondence, images and plans of the space, initial material culled from the internet, sketches and hand-written notes, a copy of the ‘programme note’ (for want of a better term), fledgling instructional ‘scores,’ links to further documentation on Vimeo and Soundcloud and importantly, print-outs of any anecdotal responses and further analytical material. An inventory of instruments, objects and equipment will often feature, serving both as an appropriative device and to underpin the legitimacy of their usage. Not just a repository, the files act as an ongoing thought process providing proof and reminders, of potential and actualdocumentation, a charting of initial, abandoned and teased-out ideas, of false starts and eureka moments.