Through commissioning artists of exceptional nature to create compelling standalone art works for radio broadcast in Ireland and Europe, Aerial/Sparks aims to open up the dreams of radio connectivity as a means to foster a deeper consideration of ocean spaces both empathically to offer a perspective of the ocean that rests on the very edge of our perceived limits of understanding.
Aerial/Sparks has taken shape through a long-term collaboration with the Marine Institute, the national agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland.
Participating artists have been inspired by their experience of joining research expeditions on board the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer, one of the few marine research vessels with sonic capabilities. These expeditions have opened up unique opportunities to foster connections between art and science as the artists work side-by-side with scientists who are monitoring our marine biodiversity and the impact of humans on our ocean environment. The evocation of the utopian potential of radio by the Russian Futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov (1885-1922) belongs to a genre of speculative writing about radio that was quite common in the early days of that technology. The universal communicative power of the medium resonated with the ambitious social projects and artistic visions that sprouted across the globe in the wake of the First World War. Significantly, Khlebnikov’s vision encompasses both the educational and aesthetic domains: radio is imagined as a medium both for the universal edification of mankind and for its musical delectation.
On September 11th 2020, Aerial/Sparks created a physical, architectural space for the public on the island of Inis Oírr utilising the transformative aesthetics of radio production and performance both as a personal and intimate collective experience as a backdrop for something else/other and as an interruption into the everyday, opening up a call to reimagine our relationship to the ocean wilderness.
Each of the artist’s work invited audiences to connect and consider if it is possible to develop empathy for deep sea spaces with respect to ideas of resonance, distance and connectivity.
Kevin Barry: ISLAND TIME
‘Early in the spring morning … I’ll find myself, sometimes … kind of becoming an absence to myself … in a nice way … and travelling … travelling far across the fields of the sea.’ Long, long ago, a melancholy lighthouse keeper on Inis Oírr dreams of a different life and of distant lands … and of a woman in Ennistymon. Island Time is a multi-media monologue created for the Aerial Sparks interdisciplinary art project and Galway 2020. With elements both of radio play and of digital theatre, Island Time sounds a tragi-comic tone and is primarily inspired by its unique location, the Inis Oírr lighthouse.
Ailís Ní Ríain: EAST WEST WHERE MORNING IS THE SEA
The film is one long take from the port-hole Ailís Ní Ríain’s Cabin on the RV Celtic Explorer on a sunny August afternoon in 2019. She composed the piece to the film’s timeline, closely shaping the sounds in parallel with the visuals. The musical composition includes snippets of hummed song together with a wide variety of sounds created inside a grand piano – percussion, slides, plucked strings, snippets of melody and keyboard sounds. All sounds – with the exception of the voice – come from one piano.
David Stalling: PALACE OF SHIPS
Palace of Ships is an immersive audio-visual soundscape developed 2018-2020 during David Stalling’s investigation into sonic, seismic, and cultural milieux of the Celtic Sea. The work uses field recordings and videos captured during rough sea aboard the RV Celtic Explorer research vessel, as well as seismic data recorded in the Celtic Sea by a large array of 14 ocean bottom seismometers. Making long records of seismic activity audible to the human ear involves manipulating their pitch and duration. In this domain of listening, geological time becomes tangible and the naturally occurring micro seismic tremors and human made sounds take on musical qualities.