Thursday, March 01, 2012

Marcus Coates: "Follow the Voice" Canary Warf Screen, London, UK

Image: Marcus Coates Follow The Voice, 2009 Single Channel Video 10 min 45 sec
Follow the Voice

1st March - 27th May, 2012
Presented at Canary Warf Screen as part of 'The City in the City' programme

In a playful echo of Darwin's publication 'The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals', 'Follow the Voice' establishes striking parallels between a range of familiar man-made sounds and an equally evocative chorus of animal cries and calls.  Chasing (and carefully recording) pockets of sound around the contemporary urban landscape of Shrewsbury, Marcus Coates uncovers and explores unexpected patterns of sonic kinship

Isolating a number of sounds from the continuous hubbub of everyday background noise, including the 'beep' of the supermarket checkout, the siren of a police car and the noises of a school playground, Coates subjects the audio components of each video sequence to varying levels of manipulation (speeding them up or slowing them down to alter their pitch). As if tuning in to the right wavelength on this sonic sliding scale, he then adds to the mix by introducing field recordings of animals and birds whose songs and cries are uncannily identical to his newly-dislocated, disembodied sounds. Highlighting the rising-and-falling, one and two-note structure of primitive calls expressing recognition or alarm that are common across disparate species, 'Follow the Voice' captures the heightened feeling of interconnectedness at the heart of Darwin's view of the world, while reminding us of the spirit of curiosity and discovery that infuses Darwin's ideas.

Alongside an exhibition presentation at the Unitarian Church in Darwin's birthplace of Shrewsbury, Coates' work also accompanied Opera North's latest production 'The Weatherman' throughout July 2009 at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury (as part of Shift Time Festival), The Sage in Gateshead and Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds

'Follow the Voice' was co-commissioned with Shropshire Museums Services and funded by Arts Council England.

Courtesy the Artist and Workplace Gallery