Geophonic is a sound-art, interactive folk ritual that celebrates the rock cycle.
Geophonic is a site-responsive performance piece and promenade, encouraging audiences to listen to the geological processes of the Earth and to reflect that humans are part of nature. With the help of beautiful hand-spun aluminium ‘Geophones’, audiences stop and listen at different points along a planned route where the ambient sounds merge with augmented sound and music (the music is inspired by British folk, psychedelic funk and 90s rural rave culture) and they experience short, entertaining and witty montages by a group of dynamic performers wearing geology-inspired head pieces.
Geophonic was a new commission by Activate that premiered at Symondsbury Estate, Bridport as part of Inside Out Dorset Festival 2021.
It is funded by Jerwood Arts and Arts Council England with support from the Arts University Bournemouth ERDF innovation programme.
The artist Lorna Rees is a Dorset-based creative and performer, and is also an Activate Associate Artist.
This is Geophonic as experienced by Guardian reviewer, Chris Wiegand:
“A group of performers dressed in Ziggy Stardust-style outfits, with headdresses evoking coal and quartz, [bicycle] ahead of us through the countryside, pausing to stage brief dance-theatre routines that are both comical and solemn as they evoke igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock types. It’s as bizarre as it sounds, doesn’t take itself too seriously, but grows increasingly profound.”
“Watching ancient earth processes enacted in flashy futuristic costumes, the effect is repeatedly given of our fleeting spell as visitors on a planet that has outlived so much. We walk along and pause to see the group act out various rituals, their voices amplified in our cones, but often these stony-faced rock stars simply observe us right back as if studying and questioning our own behaviours over time.”
Hear more about the science and inspirations behind Geophonic on this PODCAST (45mins) where Lorna Rees chats to Earth Scientist, Dr Anjana Khatwa as they walk the performance route ahead of the premiere in Symondsbury for the Inside Out Dorset Festival in 2021. You can also hear music from the piece created by Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne and Laura Reid.
In Summer and Autumn, 2022, Geophonic embarked on a tour of festivals and events:
PDSW Summer Festival Headliner Weekend – 27 & 28 May, 2022.
GDIF (Greenwich & Docklands International Festival) 2 & 3 September, 2022.
Hastings Storytelling Festival – 16 October
Igneous: Martin Bonger
Metamorphic: Remi Oriogun-Williams
Sedimentary (Chalk): China Blue Fish
Sedimentary (Coal): Lorna Rees
Quartz: Louise Wilcox
Human: Adam Coshan
Creator/Director: Lorna Rees
Earth Scientist & Key Collaborator: Dr Anjana Khatwa
Costume Design: Adele Keeley
Assistant Design and Costume Creation: Sarah Dicks
Rock Head-dresses: Darrell Wakelam
Digital Textile Creation: Becca Stevenson and Charlotte Baxter
Geophone Product Design Consultant: Liam O’Brien
Geophone Fabrication: Ben Bailey (Metal Spinning Direct), Julian Hoare and Jason Holloway (Ferndown Finishing)
Sound and Music: Matt Shaw, Laura Reid, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne and Ricci Riccardi
Photography: Jayne Jackson
Podcast: Jo Tyler
“Geophonic sharpens our senses to the environment and keeps them alert for an hour with a soundscape that includes naturally occurring noises, augmented effects, folk songs and even, for its finale, the Temptations’ floor-filler Shakey Ground. We’re encouraged to keep quiet and listen up… It’s as bizarre as it sounds, doesn’t take itself too seriously, but grows increasingly profound. Watching ancient earth processes enacted in flashy futuristic costumes, the effect is repeatedly given of our fleeting spell as visitors on a planet that has outlived so much. We walk along and pause to see the group act out various rituals, their voices amplified in our cones, but often these stony-faced rock stars simply observe us right back as if studying and questioning our own behaviours over time.” Chris Wiegand, Guardian