Final idea

As we were told that we should proceed with the idea of having the audio being centered around the earthquake, our group decided that we should do some research into the actual earthquake that happened in 1185. Unfortunately, when we went to the public library to search for any information, data or journal articles about the earthquake, we found next to nothing on the event. As it turned our, many documents from that time were destroyed shortly after the cathedral collapsed.

However, we did manage to find a letter that someone sent out to ask for any new information that people could offer in regards to the disaster. we decided that this would be good to use in our audio by having someone read it out loud in the audio after the earthquake had hit.

Some of us also decided to have a look down the high street past the cathedral to see where would be best to have the audio walk take place. After looking around, we decided that we would have the audio walk start at Newport Arch, follow the high street down to Castle Square and then go through Exchequer Gate and end in front of the cathedral.

When we spoke to our tutor about our idea, she thought it was a really good idea and encouraged us to carry on with our idea.

Showing our Progress

Our groups new, updated idea for the audio walk was still to have our participants split into two groups (we did this because we liked the idea of giving our audience two separate and opposing experiences that they could talk about with each other after the audio walk was over).

Our idea for the separate audio tracks this time was to have one of them listening to our own take on the 1185 earthquake that cause the cathedral to collapse while walking up the hill towards Castle Square and then further to the cathedral itself. While doing this, we were going to have them listening to sounds of the town (as it would have sounded in 1185) such as horse and carriages, market sellers, general hustle and bustle etc. however, as they get further up the hill and closer to the cathedral, the sound effect of and earthquake in progress will gradually get louder and louder so that, when the audience reaches the front of the cathedral, the earthquake is in full force. Then, we would walk them around the cathedral while listening  to the aftermath of the destruction and end outside of the Chapter House.

While that is happening, the other group is listening to sounds of planes, guns, marching, music from the 1940 etc. This will be our representation for the Lincoln R.A.F base and their contribution to the war. we were going to start this group in front of the war memorial by the entrance of the castle. We would then slowly walk to the cathedral listening to the army sounds as they turn from “training camp” sounds into “fully fledged war” sounds. They would then walk around the cathedral (The opposite way to the other group), all the while still listening to war sound effects.

When both groups reach the outside of the Chapter House, they would then line up opposite each other and there would be some type of interaction between the two of them. We always believed that our audio walk should slowly lead up to ‘a moment’ which would surprise the audience. What the moment would have been in this version of the audio walk we did not think of at this time.

When we showed this to our tutors, they, unfortunately, were not as enthused at the idea of this style for our audio walk as we would have hoped. They told us that they enjoyed the earthquake side of the performance idea but were not as keen at the R.A.F side of the performance, because the R.A.F base that is located in Lincoln was not anywhere near Castle Square so it did not made much sense to create an army audio walk if it had nothing to do with where our site was.

When our tutors put our idea in that light, it did seem like a bad idea. So we decided to continue down the earthquake idea.

What were we thinking?

Our groups original idea for the audio walk was to have people start in front of the cathedral look at Exchequer Gate. Then, we would walk them through the middle arch which we had called the “Life Arch”. We would then split them into two groups and then lead them back through the other two arch ways which we had decided to call the “Heaven Arch” and the “Hell Arch”. We would have then given the “heaven” and “hell” groups two different variations of the audio for them to listen to while they walk around the cathedral and end up at the Tennyson monument (The “hell” group going around to the left of the cathedral and the “heaven” group going to the right). Another way in which the two groups would have differed from each other was that the “heaven” group would listen to soothing sounds such as hymns, bird songs etc. We also chose for them to circle around the cathedral to the right because that is where it is possible to see the sun as the cathedral is not blocking it, therefore they would have sun light shining down on them. Whereas, with the “hell” group, we wanted them to have to focus slightly more on the audio of the audio walk. We had planned on giving them a large blindfold to put on as they walked around the cathedral. We would then make them listen to no so nice sounds like fire crackling in the background, distant screams, angry voices etc. However, when we explained to our tutor what our plan was, she told us that she believed that we were spreading ourselves a little bit too thin with the amount of ideas that we had brought forward. She also mentioned that it was possible that some of our audience members might get the wrong idea by our concept of giving people a black ‘veil’ to wear while they were walking with the “hell” group. We, of course, decided to have a rethink of what we wanted our performance to be.

Editing the Audio

I never realised how hard it was to make something sound natural. As i am in charge of the audio for the walk, it is my job to make sure that all of it sounds natural and flows seamlessly. One of the major problems that I faced while recording/editing the audio was the wind. Because whenever we recorded the audio it was always very windy in Lincoln, the microphone easily picked it up. I did not realise until i was editing the recording just how disruptive the wind was being. I ended up having to cut out the really bad spikes of wind and just try to make the audio sound natural without it. another problem that occurred during the editing stage was creating the final earthquake sound. What ever i did and where ever i looked, I could not find an earthquake sound effect grand enough to finish our audio piece, and the ones that were grand enough did not turn out well coming out of headphones. In the end, I had to take audio of different natural disasters (A volcano, a forest fire, a tornado and a landslide) and mix them together to try and make a convincing earthquake sound effect. I also had problems with the earlier rumbles. When editing, i had to add in some rumble sounds to build up to the end earthquake sound and have more of an impact. However, even though while editing, I was able to clearly hear the rumble effects, when I sent it to the rest of the group,they told me that they could not hear any of them. We decided this was because of the fact that the sound effect sounded a little like wind in the background. I could hear them fine because i could see where they were and knew when to expect them whereas the others did not. To fix this problem, all I had to do was turn the volume of the rumbles up to higher than I believed necessary and everything was fine.

In the end, I am very happy with the way the audio has turned out and hope that everyone that comes to our show thinks the same. I have attached the audio so that people can have a listen.

Finished Audio

Performance day!

“Imagine a winter landscape. Your senses working overtime: you shiver and squint, stamp and blow. Only then perhaps do you look, listen, touch. You flog through the snow your feet and fingers freeze. You are aware of surface, climate and ambience” –  (Pearson, 2010, 29)

The inevitable happened; it rained, meaning devastatingly we only had 2 participants on our tour. But all was not lost – the audio was our main piece of work which was of course unaltered by the weather, but the overall experience I feel was hindered by it. Instances such as the handing out of drinks, I feel would have worked better on a drier day as would the beginning and the end on the picnic blanket. However, hopefully the participants that came were aware of ‘surface, climate and ambience’ which is all we hoped for really – for them to observe what was around them while accompanied by our audio.

Amazingly enough, there were a few orchestrated serendipities we were not responsible for (some of them we were!) there was a ‘pilgrim food service’ van, a Robin at the statue whilst the cradle song was playing and an actual man walking a dog near the Tennyson statue.

The most disappointing thing about not having any fresh eyes (and ears) to our piece was not being able to collate feedback, we were excited to ask people of their opinions in a hope that in the future could perhaps take this further providing it was successful. I believe an honest amount of constructive criticism would have been very helpful for our plans to perhaps expand our tour further. However, we did have one person try and test our piece in an earlier dress run and we were able to collect feedback from him. However, this feedback was of a different kind, it was more how we could improve for our performance day as oppose to looking upon our audio as a finished product. However, our spirits will not be dampened, if we were to do this again I would suggest perhaps on different times over a week period as you would hope it would be unlikely that the weather could affect the performance all week. This, I believe would offer our tour a different dimension; people could pick times that suited them which may inspire more people to participate. Another idea is instead of it being a one off, people could download it and do it whenever. This would be different from our original idea as there would be no orchestrated serendipity’s, shells along the way and no one to greet you or say goodbye, however, this would be something to consider when considering taking our idea further.

I have documented some of the day on my flickr which can be found here:

Pearson, M (2010) Site Specific performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.