Benjamin Harrison, Elliot Buchanan, Martyn Riley (2023)
The Swiss Church, London
Caving investigates archaeoacoustic histories of resonance and how the relationship between sound and space can allow access to the divine. The sound installation negotiates the acoustic properties of The Swiss Church and its resonant frequencies to create complex harmonies and resonant entanglements. In the aural consciousness of our ancestors, large resonant spaces were imbued with an unknowable yet undeniable meaning; spiritual and divine in its essence. Humans would have encountered these experiences initially at natural sites such as caves or valleys, and this lineage of resonance and spiritual experiences can be traced to sacred spaces such as The Swiss Church. Mirroring the encounters of early humans as they sought to understand the causal meaning of the unknowable, the work elicits transgenerational experiences of resonance through hidden sounds. Drawing on archaeoacoustic research, the installation references the figure of the echea. Historically echea, or acoustic vases, were installed within sacred spaces and amphitheatres to alter the acoustics. The piece posits these vases as material allegory; alluding to this ancient technique. The sonic material of the work is informed by acoustic measurements of the space to locate the unique resonant frequencies, producing a dialogical and mutually affective soundspace.
John Antony Thadicaran