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below-above, wire, speakers, audio – Cormac Faulkner, 2014
As part of the artist lab in the temperate house, jephson’s garden, leamington spa I created a small audio installation consisting of field recordings of the plants and soil and my voice. Speakers buried in the soil play my voice singing an extract from Abraham Cowley’s poem/essay “The Garden” while speakers on the ground play recordings of the plants and soil. The speaker cable spells out “below above”.
Inspired by Abraham Cowley’s poem which talks of the pleasure of the sound and ambience of a sultry garden I made some recordings using contact microphones and hydrophones of sounds you wouldn’t normally hear: deep under the soil, moving leaves and the stripping of bark.
Here is the extract which I sing:
“Oh blessed shades! oh gentle cool retreat
From all th’immoderate Heat,
In which the frantic world does burn and sweat!
This does the Lion Star, Ambitions rage;
This Avarice, the Dog Star’s Thirst asswage;
Every where else their fatal power we see,
They make and rule Man’s wretched Destinie:
They neither set, nor disappear,
But tyrannise o’er all the year;
Whilst we ne’er feel their Flame nor Influence here
The birds that dance from bough to bough,
And sing above in every Tree,
Are not from Fears and Cares more iree,
Than we who Lie or Walk below,
And should by right be Singers too.
What Prince’s Quire of Musick can excel
That which within this shade does dwell?
to which we nothing Pay or Give,
They like all other Poets live,
Without reward, or thanks for their obliging pains;
‘Tis well if they become both Prey:
The whistling winds add their less artful strains,
And a grave Base the murmuring fountains play:
Nature does all this Harmony bestow,
But to our Plants, Art’s Musick too,
The Pipe, Theorbo and Guitar we owe;
The Lute itself, which once was Green and Mute,
When Orpheus struck th’inspired Lute,
The Trees danc’d round, and understood
By sympathy, the voice of wood.”