Andrew Robert’s sound installation for the River Deep Mountain High exhibition responds to a sound scan of the bed of the Tay below the Tay Road Bridge taken by University of Dundee staff in 1999. Andrew was fascinated by the sense of something usually invisible to humans revealed by a process of translation. To enjoy Andrew’s contribution virtually, he has made a video version of the work (Sonar 1) for the blog, including a recorded version of the caption, and including the epigraphs and credits. The video features clips of waves moving in the Tay, as well as the hypnotic and relaxing sounds recorded, thus making it the perfect piece to enjoy as part of #WellTogether week.

Sonar 1 by Andrew Roberts
Sound Work with video

“Sonar 1 is a sound work, created in response to a sonar scan of the bed of the River Tay. The scan was carried out in October 1999 by a team led by Professor Rob Duck of the University of Dundee. This scan was recorded on a long paper roll, part of which appears during the work, scrolling across the screen. Sonar 1 arose from my fascination with the sounds I heard along the banks of the Tay estuary, their intricate patterns and subtle variations. When I saw the scan in the Dundee University Archives collection, I was attracted by the fine detail and beauty of the image. The lines on paper represented a process of translation. Shifting shapes in the sandy riverbed (usually invisible to humans), had been measured by timing vibrations in water. These were then printed as visible patterns. I imagined these patterns as akin to the endless variation of wind, waves and water. These natural processes produce patterns of sound through interaction with human activities and constructions: the harbour wall, the halyards of moored yachts, a burn from the low hills of Fife, channelled through a pipe onto the beach.”

Andrew Roberts is Professor of Modern Literature in the School of Humanities at the University of Dundee, and the author of books on Joseph Conrad and Geoffrey Hill. He was project leader for Poetry Beyond Text (2009-2011), www.poetrybeyondtext.org

River Deep Mountain High was an exhibition in the University’s Lamb Gallery to mark the Year of Coast and Water curated by Archive Services. Artists, designers and creative writers were invited to respond to the University’s rich archive, museum and rare book collections on the themes of rivers, seas, coasts and mountains. Original photographs, journals, plans, models and specimens relating to whaling, the River Tay, the natural world and mountaineering inspired jewellery, artwork, sculpture, poetry and much more.

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