Chris Watson is promising to take you from the sounds of the waves on Brighton beach on a journey through the sounds of the oceans around the world and back again… All without leaving Brighton’s Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.
Chris’s No Man’s Land is a site-specific installation that celebrates the sounds, rhythms and music of the world’s seas and oceans (March 27-April 13).
The listener will experience the 40-minute long piece in the comfort of ACCA’s auditorium but will travel via sound from the edge of Brighton’s beach and out with the ebbing tide, to follow the waves and currents on a trackless voyage around the planet from the ocean floor.
Along the way, you will hear Weddell seals singing under Antarctic sea ice, the snap, crackle and pop of a coral reef in the South China Sea, the haunting songs of Humpback whales in the Caribbean and the hunting pods of Orca in the North Atlantic before you are swept back onto the pebbles by the remains of Brighton’s West Pier.
All proof that Jacques Cousteau was wrong.
Chris was brought up on Cousteau who so famously wrote about the silence of the undersea world. Chris’ point is that it’s actually an unbelievably-rich sound world beneath the surface.
“When you are diving in all the equipment, all you hear is the sound of the compressor and your breathing. There is an air gap.”
Chris has used hydrophones – underwater microphones – to hear what is really happening.
“It was really the military that started developing hydrophones during the Cold War for people to be listening under water. It was the military that had the money to do it.”
And it’s the hydrophone which has unlocked the incredibly-rich soundscape which Chris is celebrating in his Brighton installation.
“Brighton invited me, and it is the perfect space. It will be dark in there, a theatre space in the round. There is a significant audience area where the seating will be cleared so there is a large circular space. You go into it and you will be surrounded by loudspeakers though I like to hide the technical aspects. The sounds are not on a loop. It is a journey of 40 minutes. If you give me 40 minutes of your time, I will take you from Brighton around the world and back again. It all starts with the sounds of Brighton beach, the singular sounds of surf through shingle and the rest of the piece is the sounds of the oceans and the animals that inhabit it.
“I have discovered over the years that underneath the seas and the oceans really is the most sound-rich environment. We think we live on planet earth, but really we live on planet ocean. Oceans and seas are 70 per cent of the earth’s surface.”
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2