Resonant Ruins

Brown’s investigation into how we respond to the irrepressible forces of change takes the form of a series of walks, objects, video and reflective writing. His principal methodology of the soundwalk captures recordings along routes through various environments, often using binaural microphones. Sounds are edited into a layered composition experienced by participants as they walk along a route, listening via an iPod or mobile phone through on-ear headphones. The sound recording is thus juxtaposed with the physical and sonic environment, producing a disorienting augmented version of reality, even in a location that is otherwise familiar to the listener.
Brown explores temporality and change, interrogating the landscapes of post industry and the English landscape, taking site histories, legacies, cultural memory and socio-political contexts as a critical prompt. New interpretations of place are enabled by means of the tactical application of sound, exploring the potential for the re-imagining/reconstitution of the sonic and human environment as it undergoes rapid technological and social change.
Soundwalks facilitate navigation of space using different temporalities, activating it in new ways and performing a deconstruction along its inherent fault lines, thereby questioning its current nature and asking what future historians and archeologists might make of our present.
Unlike fellow exponents of the soundwalk such as Janet Cardiff, Brown’s approach avoids theatricality, or if using it highlights this by means of Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt. Likewise Shklovsky’s ostranenie is applied by the placement of an alternate sonic (and often visual) frame on the immediate environment to undermine what is taken for granted as stable and authentic, and emphasise the constructedness of our reality.

Brown’s research has been informed by the large scale research network Topographies of the Obsolete, of which he is part, inspired by the former Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent. The Topographies network of 40 international artists and theorists from partner universities in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France and the UK is in the process of applying for Horizon 2020 funding to pursue a third phase of the project, with the Spode site the centre of a range of post-industrial sites across Europe.

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