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
It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the death of keynote speaker, John M. Hull.
John was Emeritus Professor of Religious Education at the University of Birmingham and Honorary Professor of Practical Theology at the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education. Widely published on the subjects of religion and blindness, in 2012 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the RNIB. Born in 1935, John developed cataracts in his youth and lost his sight completely 1983. In the book Touching the Rock, John describes and reflects upon his journey into blindness, a journey that not only offers an insight into a sight less world, but also helps to extend our understanding of how the senses involve us in the world around us. In particular, John’s experience of sound and listening reveals sensual landscapes, which transform our physical and emotional presence in the world. The following is an extract from a lecture given by John in 2001 and published in Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology:
‘I learnt to listen to the sound of the rain. I can remember times when, in my study at home, I would become conscious that there was a storm going on. I would forget about my disorientated and vacated interior and would become aware of the wind, thundering upon the corner of the house, whistling through the eaves. And then I would become aware of the rain, splattering on the windowpane. I would stand up. I would press my nose hard against the window. And gradually it was as if the glass disappeared, because now my consciousness extended out from my nose pressed upon a panel of glass until it became un-conscious […] The rain had turned the light on […] And as I listened to [it fall], I realised I was no longer listening, because the rain was not falling into my ears, it was falling into my heart.’
We would like to dedicate this symposium to the memory of John and offer our sincere condolences to John’s wife Marilyn, their children and grandchildren.
The symposium will begin with a showing of the award winning documentary Notes On Blindness, made by Peter Middleton and James Spinney and based on the audio cassette diaries, which john used to ‘write’ Touching The Rock.