13 February 2010

I recently worked with pupils from Newark Orchard and Grove Schools using mono, stereo and binaural recordings, using a standard dynamic microphone, in-ear microphones and hydrophones to produce three soundscapes, as part of the ‘School’s Out’ exhibition at Rufford Art Gallery.

Pupils were asked to explore the journeys they make while at school and to make a list of the sounds that they encountered along the way.  Each journey was documented through a hand drawn map, which was then followed by a group of pupils.  During the journey, pupils made notes of what they could see and hear, whilst others narrated live into the ear of Winston (the dummy head, who wore the in- ear microphones).

The group made a list of all the sounds they could hear including footsteps, squeaky gates, children in class rooms, kids playing football in the playground, planes and trains and the sound of lunch being prepared.  Some pupils wanted to include a narration into the soundscapes that explored the notion of giving an inanimate and silent object (found in and around the school) a voice.  The narration explores what the object would say to pupils- for example, the pupils felt that a lonely cold bench in the school playground would say “Do you mind?  You’ve left me out in the cold and now your sat on me!”

All of the audio recordings were then edited together to produce three different soundscapes positioned within the ‘Schools Out’ installation and played through speakers.

Photo by Jo Wheeler, on behalf of Nottingham County Council
Photo by Jo Wheeler, on behalf of Nottingham County Council
Photo by Jo Wheeler, on behalf of Nottingham County Council
Photo by Jo Wheeler, on behalf of Nottingham County Council

Schools Out Exhibition details: Running between 2 February and 14 March, ‘Schools Out’ showcases the creative ideas of young people from seven Nottinghamshire schools. Through working with artists and architects they have been able to realize a new vision for their future school.

Building Schools for the Future is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The programme will rethink, rebuild, remodel every state secondary school in England to create inspirational learning environments designed for the whole community.

This exhibition showcases the creative ideas of young people at seven Nottinghamshire schools working with artists and architects to realize a new vision for their future school.

Children’s School Journeys approx 5 mins

What did you hear at school today? approx 1.30 mins

Toilet Talk approx 1.30 mins

Only the soundscape ‘Children’s School Journey’s’ was recorded using in- ear microphones so should be listened to via stereo headphones. The other soundscapes were recorded using a variety of microphones, therefore it is not essential to use stereo headphones for playback.

Lucy Stevens is an artist whose environmental soundscapes and visual art investigates the relationship between humanity and nature.

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