CAMAC Open studio event

2 May 2011

For the Open studio event on 28 April, I exhibited 3 pieces that I had created as part of the residency at CAMAC, France.

The End of the Line (installation view)

The End of the Line (installation view)

The End of the Line (detail)

The End of the Line (detail)

11ft Ping Pong Race Painting (detail)

11ft Ping Pong Race Painting (detail)

The End of the Line

Marker pen, confetti, 5 speakers, fan, wooden triangle, 11ft Ping Pong race painting.

An audio-visual installation developed from a series of experimental studio works inspired by the pigeon post into Paris.

The End of the Line explores the end of the carrier pigeons’ journey and the end of the pigeon postal service. It is the 4th development of installations, including Dropping station 1, Dropping station 2 and M and X soundscape (see below for further information). All installations have been inspired by the pigeon post into Paris and have been created at CAMAC as part of the residency programme.

After the Franco-Prussian War and the introduction of wireless communication, pigeons were no longer employed to deliver messages. The pigeons that survived were official property and were sold at the Depot du Mobilier de l’Etat.

The visual references in The End of the Line were marked out from the previous installation (Dropping station 2) and are a response to the journey (usually between Paris, Tours and Poitiers) by carrier pigeons to deliver messages. To reduce the flight distance, the pigeons were taken by train as far towards Paris as was safe from Prussian intervention and were regularly taken out of Paris by hot air balloon.

The confetti on the floor traces the lines of an open-back book case (used for Dropping station 2) and marks out 16 squares using confetti, to celebrate those pigeons that received a commemorative medal for successfully delivering messages in record time.

The 11ft Ping Pong race painting shows 19 lines representing those pigeons that never reached their destination and therefore failed to deliver their messages. The colours represent each month, (October= red, November= orange, December= yellow and January= blue).

The soundscape uses sound recordings generated from previous installations (Dropping station 1 and Dropping station 2), which include balloons being inflated, deflated, squeezed, popped and dunked into water. The sound of a pigeon auctioneer can be heard from a Youtube clip. Recordings from Marnay-sur-Seine, including the sounds of pigeons and the church bell were used to represent the sound of the loft bell, which also announced the arrival of a carrier pigeon.  The soundscape was split into two, so that two speakers placed on opposite sides of the room could take it in turns to play.  This set up worked particularly well when the recording of the pigeon auctioneer was used.

Listen to The End of the Line (approx 4 mins) The soundscape was split into two and played through two speakers at opposite ends of the studio space.


Egg box messages

7 French eggs boxes, paper letters and marker pen

Egg Box Messages

Egg Box Messages

Egg Box Messages (detail)

Egg Box Messages (detail)

Pigeons were used to deliver messages during WWI and WWII, when the usual methods of communication were disrupted or unavailable.

Cher Ami (Dear Friend) is a famous war pigeon, who delivered a message that saved the Lost Battalion (194 people), in WWI. The two pigeons that tried to send messages before her failed to do so (they were shot down). This is a tribute to Cher Ami and the two nameless pigeons.

First message sent by unknown pigeon number 1:

Many wounded we cannot evacuate.’

Second message sent by unknown pigeon number 2:

Men are suffering can support be sent?’

Third message sent by Cher Ami that saved the Lost Battalion:

We are along the road parallel to 276.4 our artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake stop it!’


Under the Seine

Under water sound recording

Under the Seine (installation view)

Under the Seine (installation view)

Minami listening to Under the Seine

Minami listening to Under the Seine

During the Siege of Paris between 1870- 71, the Prussians disrupted the communication into and out of Paris.  They cut the last secret telegraph cable, located in the bed of the River Seine on 27 September 1870.

CAMAC, the organisation for art, science and technology, is based in Marnay-sur-Seine, which is situated in between the River Seine and a transport canal.

Using hydrophones (underwater microphones), I have recorded a conversation that I and a friend had while in Paris together.  We took it in turns to dunk our heads into bowls of water, to relay a conversation.  The initial idea was inspired by the connection to the River Seine and the notion of communication being disrupted.

Click here to listen to Under the Seine and to read the conversation between Lucy and Matt

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4th development of installations for The End of the Line

1 May 2011

Using inspiration from Dropping station 2 to create The End of the Line

Using inspiration from Dropping station 2 to create The End of the Line

In the lead up to the open studios I was working on The End of the Line, an audio-visual installation developed from a series of experimental studio works inspired by the pigeon post into Paris.  The End of the Line explores the end of the carrier pigeons’ journey and the end of the pigeon postal service.  It is the 4th development of installations, including Dropping station 1, Dropping station 2 and M and X soundscape.

For the Open studio event I decided to paint over the shadow of Dropping station 2, (the pully hanging from the beam holding 4 popped balloons), as I felt it was repeating what had already been created before and I felt it didn’t work well with the space.  Instead I created 11ft Ping Pong Race Painting, which shows 19 lines of paint, created from rolling ping pong balls covered in acrylic paint over a sheet of paper.  Each line represents a pigeon that was unsuccessful at delivering its message during the Franco-Prussian War.  This data was taken from the book: Pigeon Post into Paris 1870-71.  The colours represent each month (Oct = red, Nov = orange, Dec = yellow and Jan = blue).

Creating 11ft Ping Pong Race Painting

Creating 11ft Ping Pong Race Painting

Details on the installations that were created before The End of the Line:

Dropping stations 1 and 2:

Dropping stations 1 and 2 were two separate installations, created using found objects. Each installation was used to record the sound of the impact balloons made with the studio floor and bowls of water.

Dropping station 1 was created by leaning a door and a ladder against a wall, in order to record the sounds of the impact of balloons being rolled and dropped.

Dropping station 2 was created by attaching 4 balloons (filled with pebbles) to a device that lowered the balloons into an open back bookcase, to record the sound of the balloons hitting the floor. Balloons were then dropped into bowls of water (that were added to the spaces in the open back bookcase). The sound of the impact with the water was recorded via a hydrophone (an underwater microphone).

The process of inflating, squeezing, rolling, dropping, dunking and popping balloons represented the difficult and sometimes impossible journey, the carrier pigeons had to endure during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. The Prussians disrupted all communication into and out of Paris. For assured communication, the only successful method was by carrier pigeon.

M and X soundscape:

The sound recordings generated from Dropping stations 1 and 2 were used to create M and X soundscape.

M and X was inspired by J.D. Hayhurst’s book: The Pigeon Post into Paris 1870-1871. Hayhurst created a table showing the numbers of pigeons carried by hot air balloon out of Paris, the dates of release for return flights into Paris, and the dates of arrivals in Paris. The information that structured the soundscape was based on the arrival dates of pigeons that were awarded a commemorative medal (‘M’ on the table) and where the pigeon was unsuccessful at reaching its destination (Tours or Poitiers) (‘X’ on the table).

The soundtrack was edited according to each month (Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan) and whether an ‘M’ or ‘X’ was marked next to the month, (Sept and Feb had no ‘M’ or ‘X’ so haven’t been included). Each month was given a different colour balloon (Oct= Red, Nov = Orange, Dec= Yellow, Jan= Blue) . The balloons were recorded using the Rode NT55 microphone and parabolic dish and individually using a hydrophone, in the studio at CAMAC.

Sounds for M are represented by: pigeon coos and clap of wings, and an engine (actually the sound of air escaping a balloon in water, which reminded me of a pigeon flying really fast).  Sounds for X are represented by: dropped, rolled, dunked, popped balloons and hydrophone (under water) recordings.

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Marnay-sur-Seine recordings

23 April 2011

Ive been in Marnay-sur-Seine for nearly a month now and have gathered sound recordings everyday.  As I have so many recordings, not all of them will be included into the Open studio event at CAMAC on 28 April, so here’s a few short clips below that reflect my experience as an artist in residence at CAMAC.

Listen to After 8 frogs (approx 2 mins)


Listen to Balcony birds (approx 1.30 mins)


Listen to There’s something in the trees (approx 2 mins)


Listen to The only bar in Marnay (approx 2 mins)


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Under the Seine

20 April 2011

During the Siege of Paris between 1870- 71, the Prussians disrupted the communication into and out of Paris.  They cut the last secret telegraph cable, located in the bed of the River Seine on 27 September.  CAMAC is situated in between the River Seine and a transport canal.

Using hydrophones (underwater microphones), I have recorded a conversation that I and a friend had while in Paris together.  We took it in turns to dunk our heads into water and relay the conversation.  The initial idea was inspired by the connection to the River Seine and the notion of communication being disrupted.

Listen to Under the Seine Approx 3 mins

Script for Under the Seine

Lucy: So what do you think I should base this conversation on for my next piece?

Matt: I’m not sure? Does it have to be on Paris and pigeons?

Lucy: No- Well the reason I want to do this is because I’m interested in the connection it has with the River Seine.

Matt: You said that before.

Lucy: But its interesting!

Matt: I’m not saying its not.

Lucy: The Prussians found the last secret telegraph cable in the bed of the Seine.

Matt: Why are they called Prussians?

Lucy: I’m not sure. It was called the Franco- Prussian War. The Prussians were German, part of the German empire.

Matt: So it was the French- German War?

Lucy: I guess so. So anyway, the Prussians found the cable and cut it, so that any communication into or out of Paris during the siege was disrupted. That’s why they had to use balloon mail and pigeons to carry messages.

Matt: You could base your conversation on two very different things- either really funny or really serious.

Lucy: I’m rubbish at being funny, really bad

Matt: I know

Lucy: I’ve tried before with a piece of artwork and it was shit.

Matt: It could be really serious and informative.

Lucy: and boring? I don’t want to read Wikipedia and just regurgitate it back to people. Or for us to pretend that we are from the 1870’s .

We have already practiced with recording ourselves under water and taken photographs of each other. The conversation should definitely be about us. Maybe it could be really personal- you know, about us and our relationship?

Matt: Well I’m not sure. No, I’m not comfortable with that.

Lucy: Ok, just an idea… what about this place then?

Matt: About CAMAC and your experience?

Lucy: It could be about my expectations of the residency and what I was told from other artists.

Matt: You were really nervous before you came.

Lucy: Yeah, about having no ideas and producing no work… and from the things other artists had told me- the whole bed bug thing and being vegetarian.

Matt: You cant write about that!

Lucy: Why not?

Matt: Its a negative advert for this place and its great here!

Lucy: I know, I’m not saying that it has bed bugs. I was just told that by another artist. The fact that your getting so upset about it makes me want to use it.

Matt: How rebellious of you.

Lucy: Its art, and anyway there are no barriers or censorship with art. No one is going to get upset over that!

Matt: Well why don’t you just base your work on this conversation? You should have recorded it.

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Musée de la Poste and birds at Paris station

19 April 2011

Pigeon post at the Post Museum in Paris

Pigeon post at the Post Museum in Paris

Ever since the beginning of my research into the pigeon post into Paris I have wanted to visit the Musée de la Poste in Paris.  When I eventually found my way to the museum and found the tiny display with information on the balloon mail and carrier pigeons, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more.  J.D. Hayhurst’s book ‘Pigeon post into Paris’ has all you need to know about the pigeon post into Paris during 1870-71, and with a collection of clear images, repesenting the artifacts in the museum (which were really difficult to see in the dimly lit cabinet).

I also tried to find the 11 pigeon contraception houses, but ran out of time (and was with a friend who didn’t fancy being dragged to see a pigeon loft after being taken to the Post Museum!).  I did take my parabolic dish and microphone to capture the sounds of pigeons in the streets of Paris, but every recording has the sound of traffic, which drowns out the sound of any pigeons.  Although it is illegal to feed the pigeons, I expected to see a few people throwing food down for them.  I fed them at Gare du l’Est station.

When I first arrived into Paris, I was surprised at the amount of bird song I could hear at Gare du Nord station and Gare de l’Est station.  I’m still unsure as to whether there are speakers playing bird song at both stations or whether it actually is the sound of sparrows.  Charles de Gaulle Airport, has fixed runway speakers used to scare birds away. Airport agents stationed on each runway are equipped with flares and noisemakers that allow them to play the sounds of a bird in distress, thereby frightening other birds.  This helps to reduce the number of airplane collisions with birds.

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M and X soundscape

15 April 2011

Dropping station 2

Dropping station 2

Dropping station 2 (detail)

Dropping station 2 (detail)

Dropping stations 2

4 balloons, open back book shelf, pebbles, pin, 4 bowls containing water and a pully device made from found metal, string, cable ties and plastic tubing

As a result of the sounds generated from ‘Dropping stations 1 and 2’ and sound recordings of pigeons (taken from Digbeth, Project Pigeon in Birmingham and Marnay-sur-Seine), the soundscape ‘M and X’ has been created.

To create the soundtrack balloons were rolled and bounced down a door and ladder leaned against a wall (aka dropping stations). Balloons were also attached to a pully, filled with pebbles, dunked and popped over bowls of water.

Listen to ‘M and X soundscape’ (work in progress) approx 3.30 mins

Dropping station 2

Dropping station 2

‘M and X’ was inspired by J.D. Hayhurst’s book: The pigeon post into Paris 1870- 1871. Hayhurst created a table showing the numbers of pigeons carried by balloon out of Paris, the dates of release for return flights into Paris, and the dates of arrivals in Paris. The table holds a lot of information by different official representatives, so I have decided to focus on the arrival dates of pigeons that were awarded a commemorative medal (‘M’ on the table) and where the pigeon was unsuccessful at reaching its destination (Tours or Poitiers) (‘X’ on the table).

The soundtrack was edited according to each month (Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan) and whether an ‘M’ or ‘X’ was marked next to the month, (Sept and Feb had no ‘M’ or ‘X’ so haven’t been included). Each month was given a different colour balloon (Oct= Red, Nov = Orange, Dec= Yellow, Jan= Blue) . Each balloon was recorded separately with a hydrophone, as well as together using the Rode NT55 microphone and parabolic dish in the studio at CAMAC.

Sounds for M are represented by: pigeon coo’s and clap of wings, and an engine (actually the sound of air escaping a balloon in water, but reminded me of a pigeon flying really fast).

Sounds for X are represented by: dropped, rolled, dunked, popped balloons and hydrophone (under water) recordings.

Therefore the edited process was structured around the information below.

October

6 October M

8 October M

12 October X

16 October X

22 October M

25 October X

27 October X

November

4 November X

12 November X

14 November M

21 November X

22 November M

23 November M

24 November M

26 November M

30 November M and X

December

11 December X

15 December X and M

16 December X and M

17 December M

19 December M

20 December X

29 December M

January

9 January X

15 January X

18 January X

20 January X

22 January X

24 January X

27 January X

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Dropping stations, Egg box messages and Finch nesting song

8 April 2011

Dropping station 1

Dropping station 1

In response to my studio space at CAMAC, I have created ‘Dropping stations’, ‘Egg box messages’ and ‘Finch nesting song’.

Each piece has been created using found or recycled objects and will be used as a catalyst to develop a new installation each week. All the pieces have taken inspiration from the surroundings at Marnay-sur-Seine and the notion of the pigeon post and balloon mail into Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.


Dropping stations (work in progress) Door, ladder, goose feathers, zebra finch feathers, yellow twisted pods and balloons

Two ‘dropping stations’ have been set up in the studio, one made from a door leaned against a wall and the other, a ladder leaned against the back wall. Items, including goose feathers, zebra finch feathers (from my birds at home), yellow twisted pods (from the trees in CAMAC garden) and balloons have been rolled and dropped from each ‘dropping station’ and the sound of the impact recorded.

The notion of the pigeon having a destination whereby to drop its message and the visualisation of it soaring into the air, (as well as the balloon mail), has made me think about the sounds of things rising and falling. ‘Dropping stations’ will be developed and used to generate new sound recordings for next week’s installation.


Egg box messages 7 French eggs boxes, paper letters and marker pen.

Egg box messages

Egg box messages

Cher Ami is a famous war pigeon, who delivered a message that saved the Lost Battalion (194 people), in WWI. The two pigeons that tried to send messages before her failed to do so (they were shot down). This is a tribute to Cher Ami and the two nameless pigeons.

First message sent by unknown pigeon number 1:

‘Many wounded we cannot evacuate.’

Second message sent by unknown pigeon number 2:

‘Men are suffering can support be sent?’

Third message sent by Cher Ami that saved the Lost Battalion:

‘We are along the road parallel to 276.4 our artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake stop it!’


Finch nesting song Lantern, French envelope, elastic band, confetti, polystyrene,marker pen, gaffa tape, iphone4 playing ‘Finch nesting song’.

Finch nesting song

Finch nesting song

Finch nesting song (detail)

Finch nesting song (detail)

I keep two zebra finches in my room at home and they usually wake me up in the morning. When I let them out of the cage they fly up to the light and try to make a nest out of ripped newspaper and rubbish out of my bin. The birds sing and call to each other all day until it starts to get dark, (the call of a zebra finch sounds similar to a squeaky toy.) The sounds in the morning at Marnay-sur-Seine are very different, but spectacular, with a loud chorus of birds singing each morning.  The video playing on my iphone shows the finches making a nest in my bedroom light.

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