The sounds of Anglesey (#waleslab / DIY Festival)

It was a bit of a climb, but I found some 3g.


It's interesting as Digital Associate to be removed from a strong wifi / data connection for more than say, 3 hours. It's fair to say that I'm not that great at being disconnected. And though I do advocate for taking time off from the internet every once in a while, when you're trying to get work done, or when you're on holiday, being with out 3g for large chunks of the day when you're trying to get stuff done is a sometimes frustrating experience. I had always been aware of how engrained technology is within my life, for example I've been driving 10 years, and I can't remember a time when I didn't rely on a sat nav to tell me where to go, but I've found up in Anglesey (where the NTW staff have been resident for a couple of weeks alongside the Hugh Hughes show 'Things I forgot I remembered') there's often no gps signal to lock onto when you're driving around the island; This morning, I was lost trying to pick someone up from a Wales Lab house, and I realised that I had no phone signal to give the person I was picking up a call to ask for directions, and the gps was just blankly looking at me; Yesterday, John mentioned that he had nearly 2gb of email sat in his outbox, ready for the next burst of connectivity which will set them free; Two days ago, we wanted to ask the internet how to write a certain line of code which would tell the makey makey to stop playing a sound clip on the second tap of a pin (I'll explain later) and we had to climb up onto a rock to find 3g signal to find the answer. (Pictured above).


With this in mind, I was pretty upset when I realised that I had forgotten to make some new offline spotify playlists before I left for Anglesey, and I can't get 6 music to play in the car or the cottage, until I was driving past a wind farm and realised what a completely brilliant noise they make. I'm currently sat in the cottage where the staff have been staying (where there is, actually, a quite stable internet connection) and I can hear some cows, the wind, the rattle of the washing machine, A slight hum coming from my iphone charger (I should probably check that one out...).


The cows who live behind the staff cottage in Llangefni


As you drive around the island with this new interest in the sounds of nothingness, I've been really appreciating how the change in sounds signify the different areas of the island. And so, when DIY Festival came around this weekend, I wanted to explore making an interactive map which would take an audience member on an audio journey around the island. The idea was to create a map, with pins and a compass. The audience member would hold the compass, and touch a pin which had been placed into a map of Anglesey, which would trigger a sound clip from that area of the Island. They could then either choose to tap the pin again to stop the sound, or tap another pin to layer the sounds up.


My partner Tom came up to visit me for the weekend, and to join in with the DIY Festival, which meant I had a Creative Developer on hand to work with, and we brought with us to the DIY Festival some wire cutters, a makey makey, a pair of good headphones, a couple of rolls of wire, two laptops, bits of cardboard, a map, a box of push pins, a label maker, some masking tape, and an iphone.


Bunting all ready for DIY Festival!


On the first night of the DIY Festival, all the participants gathered together for food and brainstorming, and I was introduced to Christopher Young who was a sound artist / musician from the current cohort of Wales Lab artists who kindly agreed to help us. We hatched a plan to drive around Anglesey the next day collecting some sounds as we went.


Here are some of the clips that were recorded by Chris:



The locations that we visited were suggested to us by other WalesLab/ DIY Festival-ers, who told us where their favourite sounds of the island were. We spent 3.5 hours driving round the island, with the most time spent on the beautiful southstack, climbing up and down the cliff, and spending a bit of time with some enthusiastic birdwatchers, one of whom helped me spot my first puffin!

I loved the idea of giving people the opportunity to listen to one sound at a time, or to layer them up so they could hear all the sounds together. Tom and I came up with the idea of using the makeymakey to trigger a new sound, which would play when the user touched their finger to a push pin, placed into a map of Anglesey.


Sit down & put on the headphones

Pick up the compass

Touch your hand to the pin in the map to hear a sound from that area


Tap the pin again to stop the sound - or tap another pin to layer up the sounds

Here are some photos of the SoundMap:

I really liked the one on one nature of the installation, the clash of analogue and digital, and I loved watching people take time to reconnect with simple sounds and paper maps! (I'm much better at navigating around Anglesey after doing this hack!)

The next incarnation might be a map of wales, with sounds from each of our shows/ stories from our TEAM members? Or perhaps a giant map installation that people have to stand on to trigger the sounds.

Either way, it was a thoroughly lovely weekend with friends and family (My parents came up to visit- you can see my dad playing with the map in some of the photos above), and it was inspiring to meet and work with so many brilliant waleslab/ DIY Festival artists. Well done to Matt, Simon and Laura for organising such a lovely weekend.

Next up is Assembly on Thursday- so more from me soon,

Katherine x



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