Sound installation brings Quequechan River indoors
By Linda Murphy, Herald News Editor
Oct 02, 2013
The Fall River Herald News
The sounds of the Quequechan River can be heard in an unexpected location this month: the Grimshaw Gudewicz Art Gallery at Bristol Community College.
The gallery’s first sound installation, “per/serverance,” by sound artist and composer Mary Edwards, brings the river into the gallery through an interpretive “soundscape” that melds the sounds of the river with other bodies of water, nature sounds, and melodic instrumentation.
“This is the first time that sound has been so prevalent in an installation,” said gallery director Kathleen Hancock. “The notion of an exhibition of sound was so immersive, most people who come in lay down or sit down to listen to it.”
The sound installation, which runs for about 15 minutes, can be heard playing in the gallery, or visitors also have the option of using headphones to listen to it while sitting on one of the benches. “My objective in creating this piece was to find a way to bring the river into the (gallery) space without a physical water element,” said Edwards.
Edwards, a resident of New York whose work includes pieces for the healing arts, theatrical sound design, and films, said she was excited by the prospect of creating a sound installation for the gallery in the native city of one of her favorite composers, Joe Raposo, known for the songs he created for “Sesame Street.”
“I knew I wanted to do something that was iconic to Fall River, but I didn’t want to do anything as obvious as Lizzie Borden,” said Edwards, adding she chose to focus on the Quequechan, which was instrumental to the city’s textile industry in the 19th century.
Starting last January, Edwards visited Fall River once a month, recording the Quequechan River’s remaining falls in an area off Pocasset Street, as well as nearby waterways including the Taunton River and the ocean near Horseneck Beach. Despite last winter’s snowstorms, Edwards said that at no point during her recording were the local waterways frozen, but the water temperature variations did affect the flow of the water. “The difference of the current is noticeable over the piece,” she said.
As part of the process of creating the sound installation, Edwards said she added nature sounds such as whales, and she manipulated some of the tracks so they would sound more submersive. “From there, I layered in the melody using three motifs to represent different time periods, from the origin of the river to modern day,” she added.
Edwards, who also creates music for the healing arts, said the peaceful composition is done in the key of A, which in Eastern philosophy is related to the release of melatonin and promoting sleep. “My hope is that in addition to transporting people to a different place, or time, it (the sound installation) will also have a healing benefit,” said Edwards.
The Grimshaw Gudewicz Art Gallery is also displaying “this bright morning,” an installation of textile sculptures by artist Charlotte Hamlin. Created using the a traditional Korean cloth-making process called Bojagi, the sculptures suspended from ceiling of the gallery are Hamilin’s re-imaginging of tree-lined walkways found in cities and formal landscapes.
The two installations, based on nature through “the lens of human intervention,” are on display through Oct. 17 at the gallery in the Jackson Arts Center on BCC’s Fall River campus at 777 Elsbree St. For more information, visit BristolCC.edu/gallery; www.charlottehamlin.com; and www.maryedwardsmusic.com. To listen to “per/severance” online, visit maryedwardsmusic.bandcamp.com or here, on Soundcloud:
Original article published 2 October 2013 can be found here.