Monday, 2 July 2012

A Writing Room

SW 1029 image © MoDA Museum

This is one of the designs in the MoDA Museum Wallpaper collection which has been used for the Sonic Wallpaper Project. When I showed this paper to one of the interviewees involved in this project - Joceline - it evoked for her a domestic fantasy involving an ideal writing room, tucked away in the eaves of a house somewhere, and free of the electrical buzzes of modernity.

To build an appropriate sound piece out of this idea, I organised all the interview material that I had concerning this design, arranged a selection of the comments that people made about this sample of wallpaper, and sought for a recording site containing a lot of creaky wood, an absence of computers and air-conditioning, and with old casement windows. Dr Johnson compiled a dictionary in just such a space, and the attic of his 18th century London town house was where I went to record many of the sounds used in the Sonic Wallpaper created to accompany this design, as you may remember from this post.

In working on the accompanying sound piece, I wanted to leave space for some of the really quiet and gentle sounds - birdsong; the sound of pens and ink on parchment; the purring of a cat - to be really heard. The study room at MoDA is full of the humming of air-conditioning and computers, and so I wanted to give a little bit of space at the end of the interviews (which are all full of the soundscape of MoDA) for the acoustic fantasy evoked by the wallpaper to breathe.

The effect is of a sort of emptying out of sounds; after the ideas and the words have all been introduced, the piece is overtaken by the calm world of this ideal writing attic - a space imagined completely in response to SW 1029 in the MoDA Wallpaper collection.

Sounds recorded: creaking wood, scribbling pen, parchment, tea cups, kettle, paper, cat

There is also an excerpt of this piece on Audioboo.

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