It’s always a challenge to start new work in a new place with unfamiliar tools. That’s the joy of a residency, in fact – to be caught off guard and unprepared. To be surprised into new ways of seeing and working. Its also a challenge to find a balance between new ways of working and old. No one wants to be in their studio ferreting away at work that has been in progress back home, but then again no one can start from scratch as if they have no history of seeing and working and making. And who would want to? Our histories are what make us who we are and give us the tools to work fluently – both conceptually and physically.
I’ve bought a limited amount of equipment with me – not that you’d believe it from the weight of my bags. A Nikon D90 (with remote for time lapses and long exposures), my new sound recording gear (Marantz PMD 661 digital recorder, a handful of contact mic’s, Lawrence’s and my hydrophone, and a bayonet mic), my laptop to coordinate all this digital stuff and my whittling knives and saw as my token woodworking gear. That should be enough?
I started by stomping around the land trying to ‘see’ what it was like. Mark and I dragged back some fishing floats and driftwood on our first midnight hike out to Þórðarhöfðí . Which I knolled on my studio table – just a start to the gathering.
I’ve also been collecting sounds from around Baer – with all my different mic’s. I really enjoy the focus that the mic’s provide. My hearing is not 100%, so the amplification provided by the mic’s and the headphones really help to differentiate the various sounds in the landscape and let me hear sounds that are beyond even the normal human range.
I’m thinking of using an old shark drying shed close to the water as a sort of musical instrument. It already has some interesting acoustic qualities and I’m pondering how to augment them with fishing line, found objects and handmade resonators to make a more acoustically active zone. The singing of the sharks?
Actually it’s just a meat shed, as I found today when I went to do some experiments with fishing line and contact mic’s. There was a nice fresh and dripping sheep carcase hanging up alongside a rather delicious looking slab of fermented greenland shark (hákarl). In Australia they would have been maggoty in minutes – the buzzing of flies would have been an excellent audio element. But here it’s just like being in the cooler.