Last year the writer and curator Jodie Dalgleish wrote an essay in response to the symposium: chalk: time ,sense and landscape A ‘summary, interpretation and inquiry’ of the sounds, images, and themes of the day, the essay was published in EyeContact and a transcript of the full essay is available here: Time Sense Landscape Essay: Jodie Dalgleish
Jodie has subsequently been working on a ‘sonic continuation of my recall and consideration of the one-day Symposium’, weaving sounds, thoughts and voices into a series of audio essays or reveries. The first ‘mix’ is now available and includes sounds and voices from the short award winning documentary, Notes on Blindness, which introduced the day. The film, based on John M. Hull’s autobiography of sightloss Touching the Rock (1990), has subsequently been made into a feature length film (of the same name) released in cinemas across the UK on the 1st July. The spoken thoughts of Dalgleish mingle with fragments of the film’s soundtrack, Prof John Levack Drever’s keynote address reflecting on John M. Hull’s writing and Nick Thorpe’s archaeological dig through the neolithic monuments and rituals of the chalk landscape. The sonic landscape concludes in dripping fragments of my own talk and the performance of rain choir.
Time, sense and landscape mix 1, by Jodie Dalgleish is available here.
Audio transcripts of all the contributions to the symposium will be made available later this year. If you are interested in learning more about this or would like a programme from the symposium please contact me via this website.
As part of tomorrow’s symposium, the archaeologist and author, Nick Thorpe will discuss the prehistoric use of chalk, not only as a place to leave a mark or a rock to carve into figurines, but also as the material used to create the first British monuments; a form of neolithic land art, existing thousands of years before Smithson. He writes: ‘hundreds of metres across, taking thousands of hours to create. The visual impact of these chalk monuments may have been just as shocking as modern art, permanently scarring the land.’ As ‘performance spaces’ these sites not only manipulated the visual landscape, but also how it was used and how it sounded.
See programme for full details of this talk and the other presentations at the symposium: timesenselandscape.com/programme
In his book Sand: a journey through science and the imagination, the geologist Michael Welland writes ‘deserts are landscapes of the mind as much as physical realities, places of metaphor and myth.’ It is fitting then that the title for his forthcoming presentation at Chalk: time, sense and landscape, is taken from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince:
‘Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams.’
As the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry remind us, the landscapes of the desert notoriously play havoc with all human senses. Rare sounds become amplified, aromas, other than some kind of unfathomable minerality, are entirely absent, and the range of what seems visible becomes exaggerated. Our sense of scale is comprehensively challenged – a single sand grain and a sea of dunes vie for our attention (and seem equally fascinating). The great chronicler of the deserts of the American southwest, Edward Abbey, wrote: “There is something about the desert that human sensibility cannot assimilate.” Our response to what is seen, and unseen, is very much subjective and cultural, the perception of landscape, time, and scale being quite different for the insider and the outsider. And then there are the stories that the landscape tells the geologist…
So looking forward to hearing the deserts tell their stories.