COLLISION & CONFLICT
Collision & Conflict will be a geolocated sound walk through the Northumberland Cumbria landscape. The walk will travel along Hadrian’s Wall National Trail taking Thirlwall Castle, Green Croft On The Wall, the pronounced ditch at Gilsland, preserved milecastle at Poltross Burn, 914m stretch of wall at Willowford and to roman bridge remains beside the River Irthing leading to Birdoswald Roman Fort.
Often called the Borderlands or Forgotten Lands, the area is wild, bleak, beautiful, and unforgiving. Conflict over boundaries have dominated the history of the area, leaving scars present on the landscape. Thirlwall Castle is where the barbarians ‘thirled’, or threw down part of the wall, during a raid in Roman times. Romans were replaced with Reivers, with Gilsland at the centre of conflict and raids between Reiver families. Conflict continues in contemporary rural Britain with contested views on what land should be used for; production, consumption, preservation, diversification.
ARTIST OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS
During the first lockdown in March 2020, Queen's Hall Digital commissioned Kit Haigh to create a sound and moving image piece for their online exhibition portal. With little opportunity to travel, Traces features photographs of trace fossils found in split sandstone roof tiles found at Green Croft, situated on Hadrian’s Wall. They are the marks made by invertebrates as they foraged in the sand around 300 million years ago – over 30 million years before dinosaurs existed. This was the Carboniferous period, when huge amounts of carbon dioxide were locked away in the swamps that eventually became coal. Framed without context and lit as if discovered underground, the ancient marks layered with more recent weathering resemble aerial photographs, cave paintings or archaeology. The music is created exclusively from the sounds of the stones in the pictures. They were recorded using both conventional and contact mics, then digitally manipulated using sampling and granular synthesis. The resulting sustained sounds are remarkably organ-like, in a rough, sandstoney way. To reflect the trace fossils, the original sounds have been silenced in the mix, leaving only their echoes.
I am interested in the longer history of climate change, the relative impact of humans on the environment and the idea that talk of ‘saving the planet’ is missing the point. Earth does not need saving. Humans in roughly our current form have been here for well under a million years. Our consumption of resources and destruction of habitats will accelerate our own demise and that of numerous other species, but the planet will go on without us, supporting life in general but perhaps not life as we know it.
For me, these lasting marks made by humble worms represent that constant and the brief history of humans. They were around long, long before we existed and their descendants will be around long, long after we are gone. If their organic wriggling has left such permanent traces in the rocks, what traces will we leave?