The project involved the design of bespoke audio system - including electronics and custom-built hardware - for a temporary installation by Louise K Wilson, a British artist with a particular interest in the memory of institutions.
Orford Ness, on the Suffolk coast, was owned by the British military between 1913 - 1985, during which time it was the centre of research for many War Department secret research initiatives, including the development of RADAR, the first British atomic bomb tests and satellite tracking during the Cold War. De-commissioned in 1985, the site lay empty until the National Trust acquired it in 1993, opening it to the public in 1995, by which time nature had started to reclaim the site. Assuming a deliberately non-interventionist stand, the vegetated shingle ridges and bird colonies now co-exist amongst the slowly deteriorating architectural remains of its former life, adding to the aura of mystery.
As part of her project 'A Record of Fear' Louise recorded a 7 part sound piece to install in the Black Beacon, an octagonal building built in 1928 to house an experimental 'rotating loop' navigation beacon. It now provides an elevated viewing area over the site via 7 viewing slots.
The audio system comprised of 7 unique, custom-built earpieces - designed to resemble relics of abandoned military equipment - each connected to a central 'transmitter' unit, housing a bank of MP3 players triggered by a motion sensor. With no mains electricity on site, the challenge was to provide a solution which would function reliably with only battery power.
Funded by the National Trust, it was a pleasure to find myself on their list of approved suppliers of 'delight': a lifelong ambition fulfilled, though sadly no fancy certificate to back it up!
Designed in collaboration with Steve Waldron.