, 2023-01-25 09:18:14,
Over the course of tQ’s 15 years online, I can think of few other artists who have provided me such joy as Chris Watson, the sound recordist who began his musical career in the mid-1970s with Cabaret Voltaire and has now arguably reached as many ears as the world’s biggest music stars via his work recording the natural world for David Attenborough’s hugely popular documentaries. The popular perception of sound art might sometimes be austere and academic, the sense is that it lacks the familiar formulas of musical genre which enable emotional connections with the listener, and I would occasionally be inclined to agree. Even the term ‘sound art’ can feel dry, chewy, or otherwise indigestible. Watson’s work, however, has an uncanny warmth to it that, when I sit down to listen to one of his albums or encounter one of his myriad live projects, seems to become an illumination of flora, fauna or place.
One Friday lunchtime at the National Gallery many years ago, deft deployment of sound recordings through speakers set around the frame turned John Constable’s painting ‘The Cornfield’ into a 3D space, the church bells chiming in the distance and sound of a dog curiously making the pastoral scene far more honest and less idyllic than it had previously seemed in the artist’s brush strokes. At Kew Gardens in the summer of 2010, his Whispering In The Leaves installation brought the rasp and hiss of insect life to the formality of the iron and glass…
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