Last autumn I spent two months on the arctic island of Spitzbergen. One night, a storm hit the town of Longyearbyen. The of the wind kept me awake, so I ventured outside to confront it. Suddenly, I heard some strange sounds coming from the distance – a chorus of frenetic whistling, followed by a low banging. Having u back home to get my recording equipment, I tracked down the source of all these sounds; it came from my favorite building in the this mining town – a huge empty steel construction elevated on poles. The building had formerly served as the central machine hub of the cable cars carrying coal from the surrounding mines. This building, which usually stood as a mute symbol of the city’s once-industrious past, trembled in the wind. The rain bombarded its surfaces. It was a mysterious, wonderful cacophony and I recorded for hours.
The following day, as I listened to the recordings, I came to one track that stunned me. It was the sound of whistling wires recorded with contact microphones, yet there was something else on the recording: a deep motor sound, sometimes coughing, but mostly humming. I could not remember hearing any motor on the night I made the recording. Had I captured a time wrap? Did the wires circulate the low frequencies of the old machinery to keep its memory alive? I guess the Swedish sound artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff could have explained it as energy fields trapped in time. But ghosts aside, through this recording, I had accidentally captured something I had felt that night, but not been able to identify: the essence of that abandoned place– its mourning for its own past.
Signe Lidén is born May 1st 1981 in Trondheim, Norway and she currently lives and works in Bergen. Lidén makes sound installations and improvised performances that deals with the resonance of places and objects. Her installations are often sonic and spatial examinations of social and cultural phenomena through an experiential form of research. She graduated in May 2012 both from Bergen Academy of the Arts with a MA in Fine Arts and the Nordic Sound Art MA program.
Selected exhibitions and performances include: The Cold Coast Archive, in collaboration with Annesofie Norn and Steve Rowell, Center of PostNatural History, Pittsburgh USA (2012); Soundings, Nordic Sound Art Graduation Show, Museum for Contemporary Art, Roskilde (2012); A Ride Full of Traps, MA Graduation Show, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen (2012); Load (Abandoned), at Touch Radio: http://www.touchradio.org.uk/ (2011); Realization of Tudor´s Rainforest, Singuhr Hörgalerie with NSA, Berlin (2011); Angular Momentum, med Michal Kindernay, Entrée, Piksel10, Bergen (2010); and blowup, with Bettina Diel, Olga Wiedenhoeft, Guro Hauge, Gartenhaus der Kunst, München (2009).
Nominated by Nordic Sound Art
Image caption: Signe Lidén
This work is part of ICA SOUNDWORKS - www.ica.org.uk/soundworks