Jen Southern & Sam Thulin
Available from the Harris Library, Preston. 23rd May — 13th November 2016
A video of the work can be seen here.
Homing uses locative technologies to make connections between distant locations: the battlefields of WW1 and Preston’s Roll of Honour and War Memorial. In a walk from the roll of honour to the war memorial participants hear sound compositions from Somme cemeteries and stories from the Front. These stories can never be heard in full, as interference from sonified GPS data disrupts the stories of people on the ground.
Homing is a new work based on the Lancashire Infantry Museum archives of letters to and from Preston soldiers serving in WW1. These letters are testament to the attempts of soldiers and their loved ones to keep in touch despite the distances and atrocities of war. The distance was not only physical, the longer the war continued the greater the distance in life experience between soldiers and those at home. Each letter represents an attempt to bridge that gap, and as much as is said, more is unsayable or left unsaid.
The work weaves together distances, between Preston and the Somme cemeteries through sound compositions, and between Preston inhabitants then and now through the locative audio piece in the flag market. Participants pick up a tin with headphones from the Harris Museum, as they walk around the flag market they will hear letters from the infantry museum archive read by students from UCLAN, ALRA and the North West Officers Training Regiment. The texts of the letters are however interrupted by interference, a sound generated from GPS data that makes hearing the full story impossible. Proximity to the war memorial makes this interference more intense, an auditory and emotional intensity that isolates the participant from the rest of the square. Both sides of the conversation will never be heard, nor a whole letter in full. Without a full story you hear fragments, a stilted marriage proposal, an enquiry about health, a thank you for kippers sent through the post, a description of conditions in the trenches. The live audio and the GPS fog are forms of absence, and suggest that a connection to peoples lives is impossible through a memorial, but is available in the everyday activity of the flag market.