Berlin Sound Diary

At Audiograft 2011, Paul Whitty and Stephen Cornford performed a piece at Modern Art Oxford entitled it pays my way and it corrodes my soul. This piece utilises a reel-to-reel tape-player, the expected role of which is subverted and transformed throughout the performance. The audience do not hear recorded sounds being played back through it – as is its anticipated function – instead, we hear the sounds of the machine itself as it is dismantled:

A reel-to-reel tape recorder is switched on and it’s mechanism amplified with a variety of microphones while it is taken to pieces. The sounds produced are then fed through an array of pedals: the machine’s belts, gears, switches and casing becoming an instrument subjected to a live audio autopsy. The piece was premiered at the Audiograft Festival at Modern Art Oxford in February 2011 and was subsequently performed at The Horse Hospital, London and LEAP, Berlin.

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During the recent trip to Berlin to perform the work, Paul produced a Sound Diary documenting the whole journey from Oxford to LEAP and home again:

On a recent visit to Berlin to perform it pays my way and it corrodes my soul with Stephen Cornford at LEAP, I made these recordings. Whenever I could I stopped and recorded my situation from the raucous queue outside a nightclub in Oxford to the escalators at Stansted and a Mexican dinner in Berlin. The recordings were made using an Edirol R-09HR.

The resulting collection of recordings contextualises the performance within the sounds and stories of the world, blurring the distinctions between life and art, and revealing the sequences of sounds which precede and follow the designated cultural experience. As the role of the tape-player is subverted in the performance itself, so is the role of documentation in Paul Whitty’s resulting sonic work. Rather than existing merely to evidence the performance of it pays my way and it corrodes my soul at LEAP, the Berlin Sound Diary becomes a piece in its own right, extending the function of documentation in the same way that the performance extends the sonic and imaginative possibilities of an old reel-to-reel tape player.

Paul’s Berlin Sound Diary was released day by day here, throughout January 2012, as we considered the role of the Sound Diary and Sonic Documentation in the run up to Audiograft 2012 at Oxford Brookes. You can hear the whole diary below.

00.15 …at the corner of Speedwell Street and St. Aldates

00.22 …chips and beans

00.25 queueing on St. Ebbes Street

00.42 …early morning busking on George Street

00.54 …at Gloucester Green

04.17 …by the bus stop at Stansted

04.19 …Stansted escalators

08.47…inside the terminal at Berlin Schonefeld

10.46 …railway station at Berlin Schonefeld

11.35 …market in the park

12.00 …singing in the park

13.47 …looking at art

14.47 …sitting in the gallery

16.10 …eating burritos

19.26 …listening to Binatone Galaxy

19.37 …gathering in the gallery

19.54 …gallery with Binatone Galaxy in the background


Photo © Robert Henke


20.07 …the reels begin to roll


Photo © Robert Henke

20.26 …somewhere in the middle

20.46 …unplugging

23.39 …that’s going to Didcot

23.46 …catching the train at Alexanderplatz

30.37 …waiting for the train to Berlin Shonefeld

30.54 …on the train

34.48 …luggage carousel at Stansted

39.39 …walking towards the bus stop at St. Aldate’s

40.26 …back at the kinecroft in Wallingford