White Water (airflow)

Robert Dow

White Water (airflow) has been performed in Edinburgh and Montréal…

Steel Blue, Burnt Umber, and White Water (airflow) comprise a suite of pieces connected by an elemental theme (fire, earth, water and air). Each piece uses both source material central to that particular work (for example, recordings of: a steel plate (Steel Blue); rocks, pebbles, gravel and a piano (Burnt Umber); air bubbles, pressurised air and balloons (White Water (airflow)) and material from a pool shared between the works (for example, recordings of: fire, wind, rivers and outdoor and indoor ‘scenes’). An individual but connected ‘scene’ punctuates each work: someone chopping some wood in Steel Blue; someone digging outside in Burnt Umber; and an indoor scene with clock (wind outside) in White Water (airflow). The works form an investigation into the similar, and in particular granular, nature of sounds derived from elemental sources: the crackling of fire, the grinding of pebbles and gravel (earth), the flowing of water, and the rasping of air. These sounds are used in two main ways: in their own right, their detail often magnified both through the close positioning of the microphones during their recording and the enhancement of particular spectral regions through filtering; and to form granular textures out of other source material, through the use of the various digital signal processing techniques.

Apart from their emerging, individual interludes as detailed above, there is no sense of the flow between disparate, ‘framed’ aural scenes evident in previous works. Real world sounds are still used for their referential force, however, particularly to portray the interaction of the elements. For example, in Steel Blue, the steel plate alludes to the action of fire and air on earth (hematite) to create iron, and the action of heat on iron to create steel. Many of the sounds are very generic in nature—a fire, a metal plate, gravel/grit, the escape of air, water, etc.—and thus tend to give rise to broader associations than ones which are more specific, or have more specific contexts.

With thanks to Jonathan Griffin, Ronald Dow, Miguel Ferrand and Ingrid Sawers (piano).

[source: Réseaux des arts médiatiques]


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