Luke Fowler’s ‘The Pitches’ (2020) is the first of two sound portraits by the artist that explore two contrasting acoustic environments in Glasgow’s urban geography. The sites chosen – North Kelvin Meadow / The Children’s Wood and the city’s commercial centre – document in different ways how lockdown has altered the sonic and psychological experience of the city’s inhabitants.
Recorded at different times of day and night using both handheld and unattended microphones, the resulting edited field recordings are composed of months of regular recording trips that witness subtle environmental changes, varied presences and the evolving rhythms of these spaces.
North Kelvin Meadows is a former gravel football pitch adjacent to the house where Fowler grew up. After the pitch was officially closed, the site lay dormant until it was reclaimed by the local community, who saved the space from development. It remains one of the few ‘wild’, community-managed areas in the city. Fowler’s mother – a retired sociologist whose voice is heard reading and in conversation – continues to live in the family home. The work moves between the private space of her garden and the public site of the meadows.
Travelling across this sonic terrain, ‘The Pitches’ notes the particularities of the location which sits in a natural basin below busy road, surrounding tenements and a former school. This unusual aural environment – which combines large open fields with smaller wooded spaces – creates a complex auditory landscape where spatial information is imprinted on the everyday sounds that occur here.
‘The Pitches’ could be described as a work of ‘audio verité’, capturing transient patterns of exchange, fragments of conversation, bodies moving through space, shifts in weather as well as cat fights, fox cries, birdsong and the drone of encircling helicopters are all witnessed by Fowler’s microphones. The recordings offer multiple ways of listening to the space; at times engaging with the collective effervescence of the site, at others drawing us towards subtle acoustic phenomena and vibrations that we would ordinarily “screen out”. Although specifically local, ‘The Pitches’ contributes to the sense of a broader global narrative playing out beyond this particular community as it adjusts towards the new social, physical and intangible realities we now face.
This work can be listened to at home but we recommend listening outdoors with headphones.
North Kelvin Meadow/The Children’s Wood
76 Kelbourne Street
Glasgow G20 8PR
Fowler’s second piece will be released later in the series.
Recorded with: Mid-Side stereo mics; stereo omni mics (originally intended for military purposes - which capture frequencies down to 1hz); ORTF mics, Stereo Shotgun Mics; small portable recorders with inbuilt mics and contact microphones.
from In the open, track released July 31, 2020
With thanks to:
Corin & Liath Sworn
Peter and Ted Sherry
Steven from Belgium
Everyone at North Kelvin Meadows.
Analogue processing of floodlight gong by John Chantler.
© Luke Fowler