Peter Batchelor: composer, sound designer

Beyond

for 40 channel geodesic sphere • 2014+

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CONCEPTWHITE WILLOWFIRE

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WILLOW

Presentation notes: Beyond is an open geodesic sphere containing 40 loudspeakers. These speakers operate collectively, presenting three dimensional sonic images which surround you as you sit within. Shutting your eyes, you may sometimes feel yourself to be contained within an enclosed structure, or in a sounding environment different from that of your current location. At other items you might be conscious of the surrounding space, but feel that there is some ambiguity between which sounds are produced by the sphere and which come from beyond it. In this way, Beyond is designed to draw the ear outwards, raising awareness and encouraging a re-experiencing of the surrounding sound environment.

 

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Chancellor's Court, University of Birmingham, UK

Presented as part of BEAST FEaST 2015, a conference run by the Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre
30 April-2 May 2015.

The first outing of the Willow sphere was at the foot of the Chamberlain Clocktower in Chancellor's Court at the University of Birmingham, UK. Hazel and willow sticks were used to construct the sphere itself. Willow rods were then woven between these, and moss used to cover the speakers, such that the structure mirrored a coppiced willow tree which stood nearby. The chair was chosen to suggest a scarlet cup fungus (facade design by Ian Bilson) Natural environmental sounds (rain and birdsong) played over the surface so that source of the sounds — whether they came from the sphere itself or beyond — became ambiguous. Gratifyingly, on the cold, grey and humid April days on which the sphere was in situ,

...the convincingness of the multichannel acoustic illusion was nothing short of astonishing: sat in the outdoor sphere, listening to the sound of heavy rainfall, I felt surprised not to sense the splatter of raindrops on my head.
(Thomas/Fluid Radio. 2015. Review of BEAST FEaST 2015)

Some compositions were contrived to intervene in the experience of the quarter-hourly chimes, with artificially-extended chime resonances coinciding with those of the chimes themselves, and other manipulated chime sounds distributed over the multichannel surface of the sphere in order to imply impossible reflections (at least from within the sphere) from the surrounding buildings of Chancellor’s Court.

Beyond: Willow, BEAST FEaST 2015, Birmingham University

(Photo by Nathan Thomas)

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(Photos by Steve Benner and Peter Batchelor)

(Footage by Peter Batchelor)

 

Location of Beyond (Willow Sphere) at University of Birmingham:

Beyond: Willow, BEAST FEaST 2015, Birmingham University

(Image from Google, Map data: ©2018 Google, used according to principles of ‘fair use’. Inset from a photo by Steve Benner.)

 

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De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

Presented as part of Art&Sound Symposium 2017
23-24 June 2017.

The second outing of this version was at De Montfort University, Leicester. Similar materials played out over the loudspeakers as in the previous outing, and the materials used in construction remained the same; however, situated in a courtyard space outside the Hugh Aston Building (Business and Law Faculty) in late June, the ambient soundscape consisted of the hum of air conditioning outlet fans. Periodically, the sphere therefore explored similar nodal (pitch/noise) sound materials in order to draw attention to this persistant sonic 'leakage' from the building.

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(Photos by Peter Batchelor and James Andean)

Location of Beyond (Willow Sphere) at De Montfort University

Beyond: Willow, BEAST FEaST 2015, Birmingham University

(Image from Google, Map data: ©2018 Google, used according to principles of ‘fair use’. Inset from a photo by James Andean.)