In pursuit of ways to explore ‘spirit of place’ Andy set up a research project in 2009 called The Unsung Antiquarium. The aim was to create artworks, compositions and performances that were not just site-specific, they were also inextricably linked to the original location. To do this, the work needed to be both document and interpretation, artwork and archive.
“I have had this idea burning away in the background for some time. To bring art and heritage together in an interdisciplinary way so that the work produced is an amalgam of the two. There are some incredible spaces both natural and man-made that lie well off the radar of conventional arts venues. They could be on your street corner or underneath your feet and you would never know.”
Andy is particularly interested in sites that weren’t specifically designed for their acoustics. His search therefore led him to disused factories, grain silos and water towers – even abandoned indoor markets. In them he found some remarkable acoustic qualities.
The aim was to capture, preserve and incorporate the sonic characteristics of enclosed spaces into his work. These acoustics are as unique as a fingerprint – they are however constantly changing according to temperature and humidity. So Andy approached location sound experts Mu-Mu with an idea he had to use recording technologies normally associated with the fledgling science of archaeo-acoustics.
Over the next 4 years various methods were tried, tested and constantly revised. The gear had to be portable, minimal and designed for speedy set up as sometimes the environments were unsafe and/or permission for site access was only granted for a few hours.
His work into methods of capturing the essence of an original site has led to a close working relationship with heritage organisations. By focusing on spaces that are on the cusp of change from their present state – either through physical alteration, renovation or demolition, the artist is creating a new series of audiovisual works that contain within them the ‘DNA’ of the original site before change occurs.
This is an ongoing project – Andy’s intent is twofold: to create new work with these preserved acoustics and to build a ‘museum of sound’ that will be donated to the British Library. “ Sound has a massive contribution to make to heritage interpretation and also highlighting buildings at risk – it’s something that I’m very passionate about.”