Duncan Whitley

Publications: Belju Soundbridge Edition

This online edition brings together 15 sound works by artists who took part in the Belju Soundbridge project, along the French-Swiss border in 2009.

Combining on location installations, sonic interventions and online creation, the 'Belju' project aimed to examine the border regions of the Canton du Jura (CH) and the Territoire de Belfort (FR), through various ways of listening, recording and playing back. Belju Soundbridge was curated in 2009 by Gilles Aubry and Stéphane Montavon, taking place as a series of residencies and interventions featuring international artists. Four years later, some the materials produced during the residencies are collected together as the Belju Edition.

Universinternational Records says of this web-only project: "As we didn't want to just put up a net-release that would be another list of files, we tried to think about what a digital edition should and could be, and we have created a veritable listening environment, a singular space dedicated to that collective project."


Projects: Sbarbi's Arrow

Projects: Sbarbi's Arrow (2013)

Sbarbi's Arrow is the first major creative output of Duncan Whitley's study of the saeta flamenca, a form of flamenco prayer, sung to the religious images of the Catholic Easter processions in Andalucia. The exhibition was commissioned by Soundfjord to coincide with the movable feast of Lent and Easter.

The title refers to an 1880 text by José María Sbarbi in which he describes the saeta as "a brief, fervent spiritual maxim, capable of producing in the mind an impression similar to that caused in the body by the wound from an arrow... capable, not of riddling the heart of the most hardened or indifferent sinner with arrows, but of giving a dead man gooseflesh." Whitley searches for traces of Sbarbi's metaphorical arrow within his self-reflexive investigations in contemporary ethnography, extending the metaphor from flamenco song to processes of recording, memory and playback.

Sbarbi's Arrow was first realised at Soundfjord with the generous support of the Arts Council England, with additional support from the British Library, Measure, Unit for Sound Practice Research of Goldsmiths University of London, and Sound and Music.

Click here for an excerpt of the video-sound work, and here for photographic documentation of the installation at Soundfjord.

Projects: Sbarbi's Arrow

Projects: Sbarbi's Arrow

Projects: Cante y Rezo

Cante y Rezo (literal translation: Song and Prayer) is the umbrella title for an open research project looking at Seville's Holy Week ("Semana Santa") through processes of writing, field recording and video production.

"The research is fluid in its aims. It's a product, perhaps, of my having been involved for some years - 8 and counting - and you could say that the whole project has become process. I can no longer tell if I'm the one asking the questions or the one queried. That said, for the last few years I've maintained a kind of focus on the study of the current panorama of the saetas flamencas of Seville, through the prism of contemporary soundscape studies."

Performances of saetas flamencas can be heard on a great number of commercially released flamenco records. Recorded in studio conditions, these recordings are produced outside of their original context – the processions of Semana Santa – and as such abstract the relationship between the singer, religious image, and performance space, bearing in mind that the saetas are prayers inspired by and responding to specific religious images. The focus of Cante y Rezo is the recording of saetas in their original and unique contexts, moving away from the tendencies and techniques of studio recordings, and favouring techniques of environmental sound recording that can assist us in understanding this acapella musical form.

A collection of field recordings relating to this project is currently held at the British Library, catalogue reference C1338 (Soundscape recordings of the Holy Week procession in Spain)

Projects: G. D. Parada (2013)

G. D. Parada is a sound and video work, developed around Grupo Desportivo de Parada, an amateur football club in the village of Parada de Ester, in rural Portugal.

Rendered in exquisite multi-channel sound, the piece is centred in a series of sound recordings, designed to capture the choreographies of training drills and exercises on team's training ground, Campo da Nossa Senhora de Fátima.

Moving beyond the themes of space and movement, the work begins to form a complex portrait of this club as a social as well as a sporting unit. As a club 'da aldeia' (from the villages) taking part in the competitive, regional league ‘Divisão de Honra’, Grupo Desportivo de Parada embodies a unique set of identities, the reflection and produce of the geographies of the village of Parada de Ester.

G.D.Parada was conceived and produced initially through residencies at Nodar Artist Residency Centre (Nodar, S. Pedro do Sul) in 2008 and 2009. Co-produced by Binaural / Nodar with the support of Grupo Desportivo de Parada, and funded by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture, with additional post-production support from PVA Medialab.

See across for the trailer for G. D. Parada (Vimeo embed) and "Joga, Isso!" (2011), a composed sound work originally produced specifically for 'Three years in Nodar: Context-specifc art practices in rural Portugal' (published Edições Nodar 2012).

Projects: Four Shepherds (2011)

Synopsis: Four shepherds; four journeys; four loudspeakers. The focus for this project was based on a series of proposed recordings with different shepherds of the village of Covas do Monte; each shepherd carrying a lavalier microphone and portable digital recorder to document their particular journey to the mountain accompanying their flock. The resulting material would form the basis for a four-channel documentary sound work.

Diary Excerpt: A call to herd the flock; a shriek to frighten the wolves. Today I made a series of recordings, sketches, along the semi-dry river bed leading from Covas do Monte to the foot of the mountain. The same route I had followed with Luís and 'Auntie' Maria Martins two days ago; where María had performed an almost unbroken twenty-minute series of calls and shrieks from the incline, and I had stood right next to her, listening to her voice answering back from the slope on the opposite side.

This morning it is Fátima and Rosa who take the goats to the slope. I wait on a raised platform in the middle of the river bed, where the goats will pass by on both sides of me; hundreds and thousands of stones 'tinkling' under the steps of their hooves, creating a dense weave of sound punctuated by the hissing of the accompanying shepherds. Reaching the slope, Fátima and Rosa banter: 'Olha, viste esta merda de gado?', 'É para ali, Rosa. Acho que é do Manuel João...' ('Look, did you see that shit of a goat?', 'I think it went this way, it belongs to Manuel João...'). In between words, Rosa exhales series of whooping cries, rising and then falling in pitch; her voice emanating out across the stones and shrubland before retreating back into the valley, returning three times as an echo.

Rosa is the new heroine of my project. I hope she may accept my proposal tomorrow to carry a small lavalier microphone and digital recorder with her, as she accompanies the goats from the paddocks up to the base of the mountain. Tomorrow morning I'll ask, and we'll see.

Residency: This project based in Covas do Monte, was one of a series of residencies with international artists hosted by Binaural/Nodar [link - http://binauralmedia.org/news/] as part of 'Vozes de Magaio' ('Magaio Voicescapes'). The three week residencies culminated in a two-day festival, taking place in the villages of Sequeiros, Covas do Monte and Nodar.

Projects: Four Shepherds

Maps: The people of Covas do Monte use a communal shepherding system, in which a number of shepherds are employed on a rota. Each shepherd may decide to take the village's goats, numbering approximately 1,500 at the time of writing, via one of a number of routes to graze on the mountain.
Download a simple map displaying the principle routes used by the shepherds of Covas do Monte, viewable in Google Earth - [kmz file!] Maps of Covas do Monte.

If you do not have Google Earth installed on your computer,
you can download it here - Google Earth

Credits: Fieldwork carried out at the Nodar Artist Residency Centre (Nodar, Pt).
Photographs by Carina Martins for Binaural/Nodar. All rights reserved.
Special thanks to Luis Costa, Ana Fernandes, Carina Martins and Manuela Barile for their support

Publications: 58 Processions:
Listening Through Holy Week

58 Processions: Listening Through Holy Week is
an electronic publication documenting the research
and practice in the field and studio of Duncan Whitley
and James Wyness, from 2007-2008.

It is the first significant release of edited field recordings from their work within the Holy Week processions of Seville during this period, and documents their installation '58 Processions' in the crypt of St Pancras Parish Church (London) in 2008. Available for download as a PDF, the publication features twelve sound recordings, and writing by Duncan Whitley, James Wyness and Katherine Hunt.

This revised edition features new writing by James Wyness , and two previously unreleased recordings from the artists' fieldwork. The introduction is written by Simon Day, co-director of London-based arts organisation Measure, who co-produced 58 Processions.

Published by Labculture Ltd. 2012 ISBN: 978-0-9560187-3-1 in association with Measure.

NB. For full multimedia functionality including emdedded sound recordings please view in Adobe Reader or Acrobat.

1. Download the PDF from here
2. Open the file in Adobe Reader.
3. The document will open in full-screen mode.
4. Connect the computer to your speakers or headphones.

Publications: 58 Processions

Bio: Duncan Whitley

Duncan Whitley practices as a visual artist and
sound recordist. His creative output ranges from project-specific field recording archives, to multi-channel sound work, film and video, and site-responsive sound installations.

As an artist working with both musical and 'non-musical' sound, he is fundamentally concerned with themes of acoustic communication – language mediated in and through sound – and the experience of visual and acoustic space. His approach to working with sound is at once forensic and poetic, marked by both rigorous methodology and a delicate, subtle aesthetic language.

Duncan explores themes of sound, space/place and collective memory: in the empty wards of ex-NHS hospital buildings; in the football stadiums across the breadth of the UK; in the religious processions of southern, Catholic Spain; or in the journeys of shepherds in the Portuguese mountain villages of 'Magaio'. Much of his recent work explores emergent issues in contemporary sound work, in particular those related to contemporary ethnography and socially-engaged art practice.

In his ongoing research into the 'saetas flamencas' of Seville he works with the British Library, the Platform for Contemporary and Modern Flamenco Studies (part of UNIA – the International University of Andalucia 'Arteypensamiento'), and Weekend Proms (curators of Sensxperiment and Andaluciasoundscape). His work has been exhibited recently as installations at the Museu Serralves (Porto, PT), Herbert Art Gallery and Museum (Coventry), and his sound and video/sound works have been presented in festivals across Europe, such as Valfino al Cante (IT), Gorey Arts and Film Festival (IE), CTRL_ALT_DEL (TR). He is currently an associate artist of Binaural/Nodar (PT).