Sub Terra


'Sub Terra' - a concert performance and three sound installations.

Under Earth, the roar, the grate and the prickling delicacy of sound resounding beneath us.

'Sub Terra' is a concert performance and three sound installations. Each installation zooms in on sounds unique to three locations under Norwegian ground, creating surreal semi-narrative journeys through the development of the sound in itself. The installation sites lead the visitor through underground or enclosed sound-worlds, where atmosphere and acoustics allow the sound to live, gradually closer to the concert space. The concert work crystallises into a musical form that which is most abstract from the installations and involves a dynamic performance through frequency, space and time over 14 loudspeakers.

The installations:
Under the Sea Floor (Coring and Strata) - 10 channel installation.

'Under the sea floor (Coring and Strata)' originated in a University of Oslo research project where a 10-meter long core-sample was taken from a ŇpockmarkÓ in the Oslo Fjord, 32 meters below sea level. For two days I hovered in the background on a research ship and on a drilling vessel, recording sounds from on deck, below water and on the sea-floor. From these recordings came one set of two sound-types used in the work. The second set of sounds originated from a seismic shot created by a large TNT blast in a quarry. This shot was recorded by an array of 2000 geophones spread over tens of kilometers. The sound on each geophone is about 15 seconds long, and records the response from the Earth's crust and well into the mantle - representing the geological formation through sound and control data.

Kongsberg Silver Mines - 4, 6 or 8 channel installation.
'Kongsberg Silver Mines' is a journey on the old miner's train used to transport silver ore and miners in and out of the Kongsberg Silver Mines to a depth of over two kilometers. The deafening sound and immense vibrations of the old trucks transport us finally into the depths of the mines. Here a miner guide drifts in and out with snippets of description and history. Kongsberg Silver Mines displays a clearer narrative structure than 'Under the Sea Floor (Coring and Strata)'. Spoken text from tourists and the 'tunnel acoustic' are used as landmarks in a Sub Terra surreal journey far removed from a leisure tourist trip.

'Sand Island' - headphone listening to a 3-D space using head-related transfer functions (HRTFs).

A holiday sandy shore is transformed. Imagine telescoping down to the size of a sea snail. The lazy Norwegian tide and the soft golden sand take on a whole new perspective. Two hydrophones (underwater microphones) were buried under the sand in the tidal zone of a small bay on Sżndre Sandży in Hvaler, Norway. After some time the tide lifts the hydrophones out of the sand and carries them into a floating bed of seaweed. Be it rain, wind or sun, sit in the Tou garden and explore with your ears the shore-line in a way unimagined.

'Sub Terra' was commissioned by NyMusikk Rogaland with support from the Norwegian Cultural Council and the Norwegian composer's union.

Natasha Barrett, 2008.