David Cunningham

AA School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
London WC1

29th April  - 27th May 2005


Installation Notebook

AA main entrance from installation space

Thursday 28 April 2005

The opening.

Wednesday 27 April 2005

A visit to the space to reset the installation  It starts up sounding well and settles.  The sounds of the street above, traffic, footsteps and voices are picked up and thrown around the space.  A distant thunderstorm momentarily silences it.   Now fully installed prior to opening tomorrow.

Thursday 14 April 2005

Meeting at AA with curators Mathieu Copeland and Shumon Basar to set up speakers and microphones in the space as tests.  The space is the basement exterior of the building, below pavement level.  There are two main reflecting surfaces, the AA School building and the wall up to the railings and pavement.  In addition two arches (the building's entrances are above these) provide resonant areas.

Equipment unpacked, cables draped around the place as usual and after an hour or so I switch on.  It sounds good and amazingly I got the two sets of speakers and microphones wired in the right way round.  Within minutes there is a complaint from the AA's bookshop.  One speaker is right outside the bookshop window and great though it sounds in context, not such a wonderful experience for someone who has to sit next to it all day.
 setting up

I anticipated possible problems with noise, even to the extent of planning to keep the whole installation within 3dB of the ambient sound level of the square.  Dropping levels would not help much with this particular problem so the only solution was to shift the whole installation along the wall towards one end.

This done, testing continued and we decided that as it was going well the simplest thing would be to fix cables and components in place so that when the exhibition opens there's no last-minute panic.  Lee, the AA super-helpful technician did the drilling and fixing, leaving a final adjustment of the whole system for later in the month.

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Activated Space