1 May 2011
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).
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.