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.

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.

[mejsaudio src=”…at-the-corner-of-Speedwell-Street-and-St.-Aldates.mp3″]
00.15 …at the corner of Speedwell Street and St. Aldates

[mejsaudio src=”…chips-and-beans.mp3″]
00.22 …chips and beans

[mejsaudio src=”″]
00.25 queueing on St. Ebbes Street

[mejsaudio src=”…early-morning-busking-on-George-Street.mp3″]
00.42 …early morning busking on George Street

[mejsaudio src=”…at-Gloucester-Green.mp3″]
00.54 …at Gloucester Green

[mejsaudio src=”…by-the-bus-stop-at-Stansted.mp3″]
04.17 …by the bus stop at Stansted

[mejsaudio src=”…Stansted-escalators.mp3″]
04.19 …Stansted escalators

[mejsaudio src=”…inside-the-terminal-at-Berlin-Schonefelde.mp3″]
08.47…inside the terminal at Berlin Schonefeld

[mejsaudio src=”…railway-station-at-Berlin-Schonefeld.mp3″]
10.46 …railway station at Berlin Schonefeld

[mejsaudio src=”…market-in-the-park.mp3″]
11.35 …market in the park

[mejsaudio src=”…singing-in-the-park.mp3″]
12.00 …singing in the park

[mejsaudio src=”…looking-at-art.mp3″]
13.47 …looking at art

[mejsaudio src=”…sitting-in-the-gallery.mp3″]
14.47 …sitting in the gallery

[mejsaudio src=”…eating-burritos.mp3″]
16.10 …eating burritos

[mejsaudio src=”…listening-to-Binatone-Galaxy.mp3″]
19.26 …listening to Binatone Galaxy

[mejsaudio src=”…gathering-in-the-gallery.mp3″]
19.37 …gathering in the gallery

[mejsaudio src=”…gallery-with-Binatone-Galaxy-in-the-background.mp3″]
19.54 …gallery with Binatone Galaxy in the background

Photo © Robert Henke

[mejsaudio src=”…the-reels-begin-to-roll.mp3″]
20.07 …the reels begin to roll

Photo © Robert Henke

[mejsaudio src=”…somewhere-in-the-middle.mp3″]
20.26 …somewhere in the middle

[mejsaudio src=”…unplugging.mp3″]
20.46 …unplugging

[mejsaudio src=”…thats-going-to-Didcot.mp3″]
23.39 …that’s going to Didcot

[mejsaudio src=”…catching-the-train-at-Alexanderplatz.mp3″]
23.46 …catching the train at Alexanderplatz

[mejsaudio src=”…waiting-for-the-train-to-Berlin-Shonefeld.mp3″]
30.37 …waiting for the train to Berlin Shonefeld

[mejsaudio src=”…on-the-train.mp3″]
30.54 …on the train

[mejsaudio src=”…luggage-carousel-at-Stansted.mp3″]
34.48 …luggage carousel at Stansted

[mejsaudio src=”…walking-towards-the-bus-stop-at-St.-Aldates.mp3″]
39.39 …walking towards the bus stop at St. Aldate’s

[mejsaudio src=”…back-at-the-kinecroft-in-Wallingford.mp3″]
40.26 …back at the kinecroft in Wallingford