This is and isn’t education related.
Tonight I spent one of the most enjoyable evenings in years in the Foyle Room at the British Library.
The theme of the night was disappearing sounds and I sat through some wonderful acoustic terrains captured and reimagined by field recordists and sound artists. Kinokophone, an artists’ collective, curated and organised the evening.
At a time when the schools’ curriculum seems to be becoming more and more restricted around a narrower set of academic hurdles with high accountability driving forwards streams of collections of data, it was a joy to sit and absorb the ambient sounds that had been captured by a few dedicated individuals. Artists tend to turn the funnel back on itself and get us to reinterpret the familiar.
It was a pleasant change from the endless wars of verbal attrition going on between teachers on Twitter – even at half term.
The evening was marginally under the aegis of the British Library’s ‘Save our Sounds‘ project. This was a recent plea to save our recorded sound heritage – I am so glad the BL got Lottery Funding before we lose more valuable recordings.
All sounds are ephemeral, some are liminal and as we have seen through the SoS project, fragile – literally. Perhaps they will never occupy the mainstream of cultural life but it says a lot about a culture willing to preserve them.
I have fond memories of the Sound Archive at Exhibition Road and remember the sound engineers who used to record the events at the old Poetry Library at Earls Court more than 30 years ago. Many of those recordings are there in the vaults. My reading from the 1980′s certainly endures.
Cheryl Tipp assures me the archive is still recording many poetry events today. Long may it continue.
Sitting and listening to the artists who explained their recordings tonight, in what seemed a much gentler, more considered space, was a world away from the, now, extremely driven realm of teaching and learning in our country’s schools.
If more people just took time out of the day to reflect we might all be a little calmer and more insightful.
Enjoy the rest of the half-term everyone, and if you have time, take a tour of the conservation centre at some point in the future to see how hard and skilfully the staff work.
Be thankful we live in a such a country still.