Musical Messaging System

IDEA: A distributed hybrid digital/analog musical messaging system that activates an acoustic geography.

WHAT: A series of musicians are situated along a path winding through the historic jute mills of the Blackness area of Dundee. When participants type a message at computer consoles on either end, their words are encoded via rearranged fragments of the Jute Mill Song, a folk work written in 1920 by Dundee mill worker and labor activist Mary Brooksbank. The musicians subsequently pass the music to one another by ear until the message is decoded on the opposite terminal. 

The performance, with musicians from Scotland’s Red Note Ensemble, was situated with terminals at West Ward Works on Guthrie Street and the historic jute mill museum Verdant Works on West Henderson’s Wynd. Visitors were invited to interact with the system at either endpoint and to walk the neighborhood, encountering the musicians as they wander.

WHY: The melodies cascading through the city reverberate in the urban spaces associated with Dundee’s industrial past and connect historical textile production with the contemporary labor of computation. In this performance, the public is invited to chat through a distributed hybrid digital/analog musical messaging system that activates the acoustic geography and history of its location.

BY: Knifeandfork (Sue Huang and Brian House) commissioned by NEoN (North East of North) Digital Arts Festival, at West Ward Works and Verdant Works, Dundee, Scotland.

via SOLO Music Gallery


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