Cosmic Background Radiation
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Still, here is a continuing project in the form of a web page archive of ambient sound recordings taken one a day for no longer than 2 minutes accompanied by a collection of photographs. The work initially started out as an attempt to capture the new and eerie silence that seemed to fall over London as the pandemic began to change our collective ways of life however quickly developed into something akin to a diary - an attempt at least to document the reality of the situation through sound. Inspired by the synthetic background noise used in radio and wireless communications (aptly dubbed 'Comfort noise') and other sound recording practices such as ambient noise level readings and "presence" or room tone readings used in film making, each recording captures the "silence" or background noise of a particular place at a particular time.
The project also looks at the paradoxical relationship between silence and humans, on the one hand generally regarded as distressing when thought of in terms of loneliness and isolation and on the other hand used as a form or relaxation with things like ambient nature sounds and white noise used to aid sleep and help induce calm. Captured and uploaded via iPhone each recording is used to create an archive of silences, of the background murmurings of fridges, song birds and distant car engines, sounds that are normally overlooked but that make up a vital and constant part of our existence and experience, especially during these solitary times of lock down and quarantine.
Tom Witherick is an artist living and working in London. With a BA in Fine Art: Painting from Wimbledon College of Art he maintains a diverse practice covering painting, sculpture, sound art and writing. Recent exhibitions include Sui Generis at Plas Bodfa, Anglesey and Of course I haven’t forgotten with Warbling Collective at 155 Artist Space.