Our research into alternative clocks began on Stereochron Island in 2014* with the Spring dawn chorus. We completed them with this sound study at dusk on Vertumnalia, the ancient celebration of seasonal change.
The model for this final field study came from the BBC’s first live outdoor radio broadcast: on 19 May 1924 millions of people listened in on the private exchange at twilight between the cellist Beatrice Harrison and the wild nightingales in her Surrey garden. As she played Londonderry Air the nightingales appeared to join in, almost suggesting a kind of synchrony between human- and bird-time.
In Harrison’s performances, though, birdsong largely gave ornamentation to a fixed and familiar human tune. So, for our final field study, as Stereochron’s Campaign Secretary, I schemed up an experiment that might dismantle that order of relationship: I invited cellist Natalie Rozario to respond to the unpredictable sounds and rhythms at dusk on the Island as they happen, to see if she could draw our senses into synchrony, into a shared present, with the non-human.
So, on 13 August 2014, a hundred of us gathered near the Pagoda on the lake isle to hear Rozario’s duet with the dusk.
You can listen and watch her performance here. Please note, the sound is designed to be listened to with headphones.
*Stereochron Island was my project as artist in residence in Victoria Park, London, for Chisenhale Gallery (2013-14).
Archive image: Beatrice Harrison performing with nightingales at dusk.