an outside space

 

an outside space (2020) is an interdisciplinary work commissioned by SparkedEcho for Electric Medway, a new digital arts festival.

The artwork is based on a postcard from postcard-sized pieces (2020), a set of many open scores, that encourages engagement with an outside space through documentation and presentation.

an outside space is presented as an audio-visual work documenting my daily walk on the rural-urban fringe. The walk is a routine developed from the beginning of lockdown in the UK due to Covid-19 with the permitted one hour daily exercise. My daily walk is documented over five days through video footage, field recordings, and information such as location, distance, time, duration, temperature and the weather. 

documentation

Location

  ///repeat.drainage.universe

Date

03/08/2020

04/08/2020

05/08/2020

06/08/2020

07/08/2020

Time

17:08

12:37

12:56

07:02

08:56

Duration

00:40:50

00:51:36

00:44:44

00:36:00

00:46:19

Distance (miles)

1.49

1.39

1.53

1.18

1.20

Temperature

19°C

21°C

24°C

17°C

24°C

Weather

Mostly sunny and breezy

Mostly sunny and breezy

Partly sunny and windy

Partly Sunny

Sunny

Observations

alone, dog walkers, seagulls, grasshoppers, distant traffic, butterflies

together, grasshoppers, dragonflies, a bird of prey, butterflies, rustling leaves, children playing, dog walkers, snake

together, busy, windy, jogger, teenagers cycling, grasshoppers, hot, rustling leaves

alone, still, calm, joggers, bird song, dog walkers, distant traffic, early

together, alone, still, strong sun, grasshoppers, biplane, bird song, distant traffic

the process

the walk

I documented my daily walk to and from the same spot every day for five days. I am lucky that I currently live on the outskirts of a housing estate in Ashford, Kent, and I can walk through fields less than a minute away from my home. Walking around these fields has become a part of my daily routine since the beginning of lockdown. My walks take place at different times of day depending on the weather and my daily activities, and this is represented in the audio-visual work. For me, a walk is not just about the exercise but an experience of environment, including the sounds, smells and sights.

video documentation

Each day, still video footage was taken at the midpoint of my walk for approximately 6 minutes, using a Canon EOS 1100D. The location was the same each day and was a three metre squared space selected using what3words. The footage was taken in the same direction to highlight the subtle changes that took place day to day. Additionally, video footage was taken as I went on my walk and documents a part of my visual experience.

field recordings

Audio recordings were taken with a recording device (Yamaha Pocketrak C24) positioned in the grass at the midpoint of my walk simultaneous to the still video footage, and documents the sounds of the environment. Audio recordings were taken as I walked with the recorder in my hand, and I documented what I saw or heard through spoken word (as written above). The field recordings taken in differing places and positions allow the listener to experience some of the sounds of the micro-environments of the places I encountered. 

the audio-visual work

The still video footage is timelapsed and transitioned through gradual cross dissolves, demonstrating the slow changes of the space over time. Selected video recordings, which best represented my experience of each day, were overlaid on top of the timelapsed footage. The video is filtered through the use of technology (both camera and screen) rather than inauthentic filters and colour correction.

 

For me and many others, lag has been a part of the social distancing experience with meetings, family gatherings and music making taking place online. Additionally, lag is a common problem with playback in Premiere Pro. With fragility and instability being a preferred aesthetic in my practice, I preferred the lag to the smooth playback I initially explored. The effect of lag on the video footage is achieved by lowering the frame rates. 

There are two main layers to the audio, which was edited using Ableton Live. The first layer comprises still recordings taken from the same location which correspond to the timelapses. The contrasting still recordings give the listener an idea of the general sounds of the environment of each day from the micro-environment of the ground. The second layer includes audio recordings taken from when I was walking and were manipulated to appear as one continuous walk. The sounds of the winds, trees, footsteps, and nature become melody.

Overall, the selected recordings and their position in time, and with one another, suggest the narrative of a journey. The overlapping of days in the layering of sounds and sights, and the continuous sound of walking are representative of how my days working from home blur into one. When the visuals stop, the sound continues to emphasise that the process of experiencing this environment continues.

More images and videos of my daily walks can be seen on Instagram.

 

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© 2020 Sophie Stone