Anna Birch

United Kingdom
affiliation: The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland


The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a conservatoire of music, drama, and dance in Glasgow, Scotland. RCS is the busiest performing arts venue in Scotland.


Exposition: Innerground_ an Exploration of a Disused Mine Through the Memories of Former Miners (01/01/2013) by Carolina Goradesky
Anna Birch 18/06/2013 at 23:21

Innerground - a sonic emphasis on the cultural values to be found in t memories. This is a project concerned with place and space and memories triggered through sound. The fieldwork here is about listening to miner’s memories of the now closed mine. The memories are used to re- create the sounds triggered by memories of working in the mine. The sounds are now 'lost' as the mine is closed.


Through the interviews with miners at the winter slag mine in Ghent, Belgium the artist collected a date set that she later analysed and used as a starting point for the production of a sound archive.


The method explained here is concerned with the role of sound as an initiator of new ways of seeing / viewing. The artist has a concern that viewing might not take place in the way that is intended by the artist unless it is structured in some way - in this case through sound.


The outcome is a sound installation open to the public.


The methodology is described here but could perhaps be elaborated on eg the virtual space readings is a description coined by the artists (I think). I am not sure how this is different from oral history for example - see Heike Romms recent work as a case study, which might be of interest. Grounded theory comes to mind and I wonder if the approach here is linked to that particular methodology. I am not quite convinced that a new conceptual model needs to emerge just because this project is about a mine that is closed now. Is the framing of the data capture to do with the sounds heard by the miners sufficiently framed? More clarification regarding the role of sound in this oral history would help the reader. The gestures and noise making by the miners in the interviews is an interesting thread of the data for analysis but is not commented on or analysed here.


The oral history approach here is somewhat hidden behind other methodologies - in the last paragraph of the conclusion the term oral history is used as a blanket term for the project. It is unclear as to what the sound outcomes is and this would be very interesting to share. The exhibition is given a slide - single image but it would be useful to hear samples of the sound produced from the data collection. The noise heard by miners is framed late in the exposition and importantly discussed as something significant to the miners themselves. Vison is limited in the mine and proximity for one miner to another is often the only way that seeing happens - sound is therefore very important on multiple levels. This value attached to sound for safety; orientation etc would be useful to flag up at an earlier stage. Alongside the theoretical rational the importance of sound to the miners themselves makes this an interesting place to start the project. Language differences for the miners is also lightly touched on and it would be interesting to know if this aspect made it into the sound archives. The data collected here is an alternative archive and one that has value in a number of different ways and to a number of different interest groups. What the evidence is of a collective is however unclear and left as a 'tease' rather than a substantiated finding. Use of the third person plural 'they' to discuss the miners is a style error and can be rectified. This would make the reading more joined up and give a clearer and probably more rounded sense of the miners participation in the project. The perspective of children and families in the mining community is not covered here and it would be interesting to read the experience of the visitors to the gallery installation in the context of the mining community as a whole.


The subject is useful and a good project for artistic research. I have set out limitations above and these are in summary:
- Some confusion over methodology
- The role of the sound installation in the research or project