no matter what 10—26 September 2021
Soundcamp for Hydracity
NMW brings together three sites in London concerned with water. By dropping a live streambox into each location, SC set up ways for listeners to access it remotely and at less heard times of night and day.
The streams are presented on a page with live Internet Relay Chat (IRC), where listeners can join artists, ecologists and activists from the collaborating organisations to discuss the streams. These conversations will form a log over the weeks of the installation at Thames-Side Studios Gallery, where the sounds can also be heard.
1. Barking Creek / River Roding outffall
[T]he perfect destination for wastes
[McGrath demolition archives]
Pollution here takes many forms, as with the former Beckton Gasworks, which until quite recently had its own micro weather system: a cloud cap which could be seen from far off. Heavy contamination has brought a pause in development of the site, which supports a dense and varied soundworld.
Invertebrates and water birds (cormorants, spoonbills) populate the inter-tidal mudflats, while the waste handling facilities, sewage works and rough ground attract gulls, starlings, goldfinches and raptors, with reed warblers and buntings along the fringing reedbeds. River water, tidal movements, wastes, birds, sewage create a complex of flows. While the Thames in both directions is under active development for new housing, the soundworld here is quite wild and unresolved, and the area remains open for off-grid activities: bait collection, hanging out.
The Environment Agency manages the Roding Barrier, which is closed occasionally for flood control or testing. A collaboration in development will establish a long-term audio stream from the base of the barrier, near to where the streambox is dropped for Hydracity. The proof of concept allows us to listen collectively and extend a lexicon of more and less familiar entities: settling tanks, excrements, recycling streams, processing plants, strip-outs, shipping containers, logistics, flounder, smelt, surge tides, waders, salvage, hardcore - being constantly aggregated, segregated, assimilated, expelled.
Stream live from Friday 10/09/21 afternoon until the battery runs out (a few days)
Listening room from 19:00 in the gallery or online
2. Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park
Managed by the The Conservation Volunteers, the GPEP is a set of artificial habitats created since 2002 at a site just back from the Thames. Its fresh water lakes, gravel spits and reedbeds, meadows and alder woodland, provide key habitats and roosting areas for resident and migrating birds feeding on the mudflats at low tide, as well as bats, wetland flora and many insects.
TCV staff and volunteers manage the site and deliver a wide range of learning and public engagement activities. Details
The streambox will be a chance to hear the relatively under explored sounds of this site, including at times when it is closed and undisturbed by visitors.
Stream live from Friday 17/09/21 afternoon
17/09/21 Guided walk around GPEP, SE10 0QZ, followed by streambox workshop and install.
Meet at the gallery at 12:00. Workshop 14:00 to 16:00.
3. Channelsea Island
The Channelsea river in Newham has a meandering past of industry and contamination and yet sustains a quiet backwater flow for many life forms, revealing its secrets to those willing to explore. It’s been culverted and infilled, its flow now coming to an end just past Channelsea Island.
Surge Cooperative are working to rejuvenate the Channelsea, and the wider tidal River Lea, with cooperative moorings and community engagement, proposing common actions with those connected to the river or local to the area, and encouraging collective efforts to protect and celebrate its rich natural heritage. These include a court case pending about ownership of the river and its rights.
The stream is part of an ongoing conversation between the cooperative and its surroundings, initiated by coop members and artists Stephen Shiell and Hannah White (Blanc Sceol).
Stream live in the week starting 20/09/21
@soundtent for stream details.
No-matter-what [n'importe quoi] is quite simply the plane of equality of what is real, possible, non-existent, past, impossible, true, false, or bad. It doesn't matter.. 'That no-matter-what is something indicates nothing other than the possibility of a flatness: that by which everything is equally.
[Tristan García: Form and Object - A Treatise on Things, trans. Mark Allan Ohm and Jon Cogburn, Edinburgh University Press 2014, p30.]
In lieu of an environment that surrounds human culture, ... picture an ontological field without any unequivocal demarcations between human, animal, vegetable, or mineral. All forces and flows (materialities) are or can become lively, affective, and signalling.
[Jane Bennett: Vibrant Matter, Duke University Press, 2010, p116.]
No matter what extends commissions for Lofoten International Arts Festival, Gasworks / Royal College of Art and Campus for Climate Action, which have used open omni-directional microphones to pay attention to intertidal mudflats, a culverted urban river from source to outfall, and other elusive things.
The live streams can be thought of as ways to establish ontologically flat fields, within which systems of classification are provisionally suspended, creating openings for new associations to emerge. Attention to edgelands and estuaries which have partially escaped development narratives, and whose status is indeterminate, can point to their value for biological and cultural diversity, and as pools of imaginative resources with lesser known potentials (cp Third Soundscape — Leandro Pisano, John Grzinich). Real-time streams are designed to convey the liveliness [Jessie Brennan] of sounds and places, and resist their conversion into environmental spectacles and recorded specimens. They can be tools for advocacy in debates over land use and public space.
n m w continues Soundcamp’s interest in real-time sound and collective listening to tune into lesser known locations. As with the wet/dry sites for Hydracity, these are changeable environments that resist capture / classification. The project contributes to developing forms of ecological radio that can bring a plurality of voices, things and flows together on an equal footing.
Dropping live streams into out-of-the-way places has been done on and off by organisations of the Acoustic Commons and others, for the annual Reveil broadcast and on other occasions. Since Summer 2021 Udo Noll has organised a series of 'drops' at Radio Aporee, in the frame of radio.earth. This coincides with the development of affordable lower power streaming hardware and software from iqAudio, Udo Noll, Julian Weaver, Stef Cousot and others. To make a low power streambox for off-grid streaming with the Pi Zero, see this working how to. For other approaches: see these recipes.
Hydracity is an exhibition at Thames-Side Studios Gallery, Woolwich, and a series of walks and workshops on the wet ecologies of London. Hydracity is devised by Charlie Fox and produced by Inspiral London.
) Listening room ( is a project by Soundcamp, first devised in collaboration with Ella Finer for Campus for Climate Action in Summer 2021. Streams hosted by Locus Sonus at the École Supérieure d'Art, Aix-en-Provence.
The Acoustic Commons is an emerging network of live environmental audio streams drawing attention to the unique sounds of particular places across Europe and beyond. Partners: Full of Noises (Barrow, Cumbria), Locus Sonus (Aix-Marseille), CONA (Ljubljana), HMU (Crete), Cyberforest (Tokyo), Soundcamp (London).
Acoustic Commons is supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme.
Soundcamp are supported using public funding from Arts Council England