Site specific work


1 January 2010

Dipping a hydrophone into Leicester Canal

What a great Christmas present!  A hydrophone!  A microphone designed to use underwater, to record and listen to underwater sounds.

Its early on New Years day, its cold and frosty and after a few tests with my mono hydrophone in the sink with the tap running, I take a walk to the canal.  Its busier than I expected, mostly couples taking a stroll together, as I gently lower the hydrophone with its 5m cable into the water (over the side of a bridge), I get a few odd stares- I think the majority thought I was fishing.  A couple walked by looking concerned and asked what I was doing.  I tell them that Im an artist listening to the underwater sounds of the canal…but in truth I didnt really hear a great deal, apart from when the microphone struck the side of the canal or was pulled out of the water and plonked back in again.

The canal is dirty with litter and full of ducks and swans, everytime I try to move my hydrophone close to them they swim away (understandably), as I trace the footsteps that I usually take along the canal on my way to work and drag the microphone along, I can hear it move through the water and occasionally bump against a lump of litter or get tangled in a tree branch.  The hydrophone is quiet weighty and falls under the waters surface when stationary, but could do with some fishing weights when pulled under water.

I plan to record under water sounds at the canal again, but this time at a different position, close to the anglers and moving narrow boats.  As part of the Riversoundscapes project (see early posts), I will take the hydrophone to Nottingham to record at different points along the River Trent.

Lucy Stevens’ artistic practice examines the acoustic ecology of the natural environment, using field recording, digital illustration, performance and printmaking as a tool to visualise sound produced by wildlife, weather and other natural phenomena.

3 comments on “Hydrophone

  1. Hi Lucy,

    I just discovered your various web sites a little while ago. I am just about to go to sleep, as it is 4:44 in the morning (Eastern Standard Time). So, I will try and research your work a bit more in the next few days.

    I am curious if I could mail you a few blank DVD-R (or CD-R) discs to get the uncompressed WAV files of your recordings. I would be happy to send you some money to pay for mailing the discs back to me in Michigan.

    This would then allow me to convert them to Apple Lossless for use on my iPod.

    Please let me know what you think when you have time to think it over. Also, feel free to download the binaural recordings from my web site.


    Mitch Walcott

  2. Hi Mitch

    Nice to meet a fellow binaural audio artist. If you send me your address I will post a selection of my work to you, which soundscapes would you like?

    I will take a look at your website when I get chance.

    Thanks for the comment x

  3. Hi Lucy,

    I sent my address information to your two e-mail accounts, in order to maintain some privacy on this public web page. The recordings that I would love to have in the uncompressed WAV files are:

    Annual, 2008
    Untitled (Southwell Artspace), 2008
    Conscious Void, 2007
    Leicester Canal, 2009
    Santa Maria della Concezione and crypt, 2008
    Lincoln Christmas Market, 2008

    Thanks again,


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