I made a new live work for The Bristol Hum 2017, which layers and re-interprets recordings of my work so far on Long Barrows, chiefly using a field recording from Stoney Littleton sung over live by myself with Chloe Turpin and Leila Gamaz at Arnolfini (listen below). In this way, the work travels through time and versions, with traces of past presences embedded and tangible in each new work. The use of audio treatments (effects etc.) is reflected in the images I made for this work, which are from field trips, but altered using filters, to closer evoke the atmosphere and experience of the visits and my resulting relationship with these sites.
Here are some photos and audio from the performance, a text about the development of the piece, and some audio work in progress:
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Ellen Southern with Leila Gamaz (in absentia)
‘Long Barrow’ (Site Singing), for voices and treated field-recordings
I am a visual artist, singer-composer and performance maker, working in Bristol UK. My work spans the mediums of performance, voice, drawing, music composition, sound art, video and artistic direction. I am one-third of the band Dead Space Chamber Music, to which I contribute voice, visuals and sound-works. For the Bristol Hum 2017, I will be creating a new site-relational voice work, based on my ongoing voice and field-recording based project Site Singing. This work will be a structured improvisation inspired by long barrows: ancient burial mounds that can be found in the landscape around Bristol.
Since 2014 I have been making solo field trips to lesser-visited heritage sites in the South West, and working directly with the acoustics of each site to create voice-based sound works as a form of alternative, experiential and sensory interpretation of each site. Site Singing has an ongoing project blog with free downloadable sound-works, photos, texts and drawings being added over time.
I am now in the process of developing this solo body of work into collaborative live works with other singers, to create spatial and site-relational vocal performances which combine live and recorded / treated voices. Participation in the Bristol Hum will be another exciting step on this sonic journey.
“Southern is a genuine polymath…the execution [of her sound-sketches] requiring dedication, planning, and hard work. [They are] all created by the artist using her own voice [with] each piece drawing on her fine art and drawing background”
For the Bristol Hum, I will be working with fellow Bristol-based singer Leila Gamaz. We met three years ago at Bristol Sacred Harp’s weekly shapenote singing sessions, and we have continued to sing together ever since. We have worked on multiple projects together, and share a love of early music and plain songs. For ‘Long Barrow’, she will feature in the live performance ‘in absentia’.