In August, I received an email saying that my proposal had been accepted for the Frequency Festival of Digital Culture 2017, which was a surprise seeing as the project in question didn't exist yet. My initial proposal intended to create an interactive, site-specific response to a place utilising projected visuals from the archives but in reality, the end result was very different...
By early September, I had chosen the Lincoln Guildhall as my venue and point of focus. It was an intuitive decision more than anything as I was struck by the fact that as a local to the area, I had never been in the building but had often walked underneath it. After speaking to the Mayors Officer, I found myself drawn to the local guilds and how they had been dissolved despite their power and influence between the 14th and 16th Century. These were essentially early trade unions which were designed to protect members, maintain standards and regulate businesses in the local area.
As I studied the archives, I began to formulate a list of local historic guilds which could be reintroduced into the space. I decided to focus on craft-based rather than religious guilds as I thought it important to celebrate the craftsmanship which helped build the city, both literally and metaphorically. These ranged from specialisms such as: butchers, shoemakers (cobblers), stone masons, bakers, plasterers, bricklayers, pavers, pointers, blacksmiths, textile workers (weavers, dyers and fullers) etc etc.
As a heritage site it contained fixed furniture and narrow walk ways which placed some limitations on what could be achieved in the space and in the time allocated. Ultimately, I wanted to produce work that sensitively responded to the place and create a dialogue. This led me to consider sound rather than visual material because for me, the visual was already there; I was simply introducing a subtle element into the space which drew the viewers attention to an element of time and history. The description for the site-specific response was as follows:
In Sian Wright's site-specific installation, 'disPLACEment' is introduced in sounds recorded from local trades that are displaced into the historic Guildhall. The Esoteric explores perception and spatial experience in response to the Guildhall, which is designed to reflect the local area and its history.
Interested in perception and interaction with space, The Esoteric creates an immersive experience that presents a dialogue between memory and place. Archived material has been used to inform the selection of sounds introduced into the very essence and action of the space highlighting notions of 'the present and the absent, the near and the distant, the sensed and the imagined.'
Sian Wright explores how buildings and places structure our understanding of reality and the fluidity of time. With an interest in aesthetics and immersive experience, she embraces a multi-disciplinary approach which typically encompasses print, photography and installation.
To conclude, it's been an eye opening experience to develop a site-specific installation for Frequency Festival, especially working in an unfamiliar medium! I feel as though my work with sound is just the beginning and that this project has kick started my practice into the exploration of place which had otherwise become stagnant this past year. Whilst it has been a tad stressful, it has been a worthwhile journey and I look forward to continuing my research utilising conceptually appropriate mediums rather than just falling back on the familiar.