Origami bird/plane map design for Balfron Tower exhibitionRadioactive Present: Air Traffic

A Collaborative Project by Esther Ainsworth and Lucy Stevens

A sonic exploration of the East London Skies

Lucy and Esther formed their partnership at Camac Centre for Arts and Technology, Marnay-sur-Seine, France in 2011, creating a sound performance, titled Radioactive, which explored the fusion and live mixing of the contrasting sound worlds created by both artists.

For their current collaboration, Lucy has been invited to take up a temporary residency with Esther in her apartment at the top of Balfron Tower. The idea behind the residency is to explore a collaborative approach to the environment in and around the Tower.

With a birds eye view of the city, both artists used the tower as a starting point, for Esther, considering re-imaging the rhythms of the movement of the city through sound and for Lucy identifying urban birds in flight and their behaviour within the city.

These explorations have led to the identification of a series of ‘hotspots’ around Balfron Tower where the duo have captured field recordings tracking the activity that occurs in the sky, including plane flight and bird flight, and culminating in a series of unique soundscapes of the city as part of the Balfron Tower open studios.

The recordings feature a variety of locations that are rich in ‘sky sound’, featuring a mix of wildlife from East India Dock Basin and Bow Creek Ecology Park and planes taking off and passing over on the roof of Balfron Tower and London City Airport. Listen to the soundscapes on SoundCloud.

A map has been designed to plot areas where recordings were captured to track the activity that occurs above the city, for visitors to match the sounds with the locations.

Air traffic will be on show as part of Balfron Tower Open Studios daily from Saturday 6 September – Sunday 21 September, 12 noon – 6pm.

Balfron Tower, Poplar, London.

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.

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