The first wallpaper design which I got truly excited about from a sonic perspective was this one, BADDA 4770.
BADDA 4770, image © MoDA and used with their kind permission
Everyone who saw this wallpaper was reminded of spools of thread, while the printing method used to create this paper appears distinctly painterly to contemporary eyes. Perhaps for this reason, quite a few people talked about imagining this wallpaper in some sort of hand-making or craft room. The criss-cross pattern was reminiscent to some eyes of woven textiles.
For all of these reasons I was interested in finding a weaver who would allow me to record the rhythmic operations of hand-weaving, and also in recording the sounds of clocks. The clocks were important because – like this wallpaper pattern – they are in reality quite busy and active, yet often recede into the background of daily life. The loom and the clock became the central tenets around which to organise all the other sound elements in this Sonic Wallpaper piece.
Wendy Morris – who is the current custodian of The Handweaver’s Studio – kindly allowed me to create field-recordings of her weaving on her loom for Sonic Wallpapers. I created one recording using contact microphones attached to the wooden parts of the loom which captured all the sounds resonating through the mechanism, while another recording was made with a stereo shotgun microphone, which captured the sounds of the loom resonating through the weaving room where Wendy creates her distinctive, handwoven cloths.
As you can hear, the two recordings of the same loom are quite different, according to which microphone I was using in each case. I think both of the recordings reflect a sense of many tiny parts moving to create one whole – rather like the impression of a continuous surface comprised of many constituent parts suggested by the wallpaper design.
Wendy was weaving a mix of silk and lurex on her 12 shaft countermarch floor loom when I made these field-recordings; the weave structure is such that the fabric naturally pleats when it is taken from the loom.
I wrote more about recording Wendy Morris weaving here, and the recordings I produced were also utilised by James Wyness in a recent work entitled Loom, which premiered at the Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival at Hawick in the Scottish borders earlier this year.
For the purposes of Sonic Wallpapers, I love the repetitious sound of Wendy’s weaving, especially when combined with clocks and the things people said about BADDA 4770. A couple of months after making this track, I learnt about Helios’s track, Halving the Compass on the album, Eingya. I’m not sure what you think, but I think Helios has – like me – succumbed to the sonic charms of the loom as a sound pattern, or a found sound in the environment that conveys a sense of focus, rhythm, and hand-making. I am sure the rhythm track in Halving the Compass comes from a recording of a loom!
I have one copy of the Sonic Wallpapers book to give to someone who would like to have a domestic listening experience for themselves! The book has all 18 wallpaper designs from the MoDA collection used in this project, and a CD in the back which contains all the sound pieces. There are introductions both by myself and Zoe Hendon who is the curator of MoDA, and notes on what people said, and what sounds were recorded, for each wallpaper included in the project.
Sonic Wallpapers CD
To win a copy of the book, you just need to leave a comment on this post: -> http://thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress/?p=4655 about a wallpaper that you remember from your life, and one sound you recall from the room where that wallpaper was. If you cannot think of a wallpaper design and a sound, you could also leave one thought/response you have to this project. On 24th December, I will draw a number at random and post out a copy of the book to the winner!