David Cunningham
A position between two curves

The Tate Triennial of Contemporary British Art, Tate Britain

27 Feb - 26 May 2003

A site-specific installation within Days Like These, The Tate Triennial of Contemporary British Art 2003.

This work could be heard in the alcoves of Tate Britain's Manton Entrance. It consisted of two circuits of microphone, loudspeaker and noise gate.  The microphones pick up the ambient sound of the space, acoustically focussed by the curved surfaces at each side of the entrance area and build it up to the point of feedback.  This sound is cut off by the noise gate when a certain volume is reached allowing the listener to become part of the process.

Although Cunningham has initiated this process, he has little control over its outcome.  He provides the conditions and the equipment but it is the presence of people moving through the space which moves the air and alters the characteristics of the sound.

Installation at Tate Britain, looking north

Installation at Tate Britain, looking east

Installation at Tate Britain, looking south
click on image for video extract
Over December 2002 and January 2003 a public installation work was created specifically for the Atterbury Street Manton Entrance of Tate Britain.  There are two alcoves built out of the stone wall at each side of the entrance area which I have amplified to act something like parabolic reflectors, creating a narrow focussed zone across the entrance where the sound of the space becomes hyper-real.  The development of this installation had to cope with a much less controlled situation than previous work, high levels of background noise and large numbers of visitors, plus the exposure of microphones to extremes of temperature and humidity.

‘A position between two curves’ specifically employs the innovation of a tuned double system - equivalent to two independent installations of the basic technology used in The Listening Room.  This double system is designed so that the electronic part of the chain is independent but the acoustic part of the chain is interdependent - the two systems hear and react to each other. 

 A documentary fragment of a moment within the installation, recorded on 13 February 2003 
click on the speaker image 
audio fragment

further links:

Days Like These exhibition at Tate Britain
Catalogue Essay, Andrew Wilson
Catalogue Essay, Jonathan Watkins

Exhibition review - The Guardian, Adrian Searle, 25 February 2003

David Cunningham - statements and notes toward this project

Technology - Double system installations
aerial view

return to:
Activated Space