Let it run all over me
a sound-based artwork
Ends 25 March 2023
PS² is excited to announce Let it run all over me by Christopher Steenson, a sound-based
artwork presented as a one-day event within the Lagan Weir, a tunnel that runs
beneath the River Lagan in Belfast.
Please book here via eventbrite
Let it run all over me is a site-specific sound work in three parts that responds to the aural architecture of the Lagan Weir, a vital framework that guides both the water’s tidal fluctuations, as well as monitoring the surrounding ecology.
The work is informed by several site visits carried out by Steenson, during which he made underwater recordings of the Lagan, as well as capturing the unique acoustic fingerprint of the Weir’s underwater tunnel. Each of the sounds featured in the work has passed through structures and mediums relating to the Weir – be it the watery expanse that surrounds it, or the concrete material of its very infrastructure. Spending time with those who work at the site, recordings were also taken from the often invisible acts of labour undertaken daily by the team who work there – such as the opening and shutting of the five gates that protect the city from flooding, and the journeys made daily by the team to record the surrounding ecology and monitor the river’s health. The result is a work that presents a layered scale through which we can listen in on the environments sustained by the river.
The work also fuses multiple, entangled areas of research to postulate a composite understanding of bodies of water as spaces for both journeying and reflection. This includes investigations into sound-based traditions, myths and long-term research into forms of acoustical resonance.
Acoustics are central to Let it run all over me, echoing the sound’s unique behaviour in the cavernous underwater tunnel, as well as the artist’s research into the role of acoustics in bygone Irish traditions. This includes the use of horse skulls placed beneath floorboards, and sometimes filled with coins, which have been found in céilí houses or church altars across various sites on the island. Archaeologists have linked these horse skulls to the amplification of sound (or the creation of echoes) associated with the cultural activities which took place in these spaces, as well as serving as a way of bringing good luck to the stability of the structures in which they were placed.
The work also draws on journeying through water as form, taking reference from journeys by boat in Irish and Greek mythology. Tír fo Thuinn (land beneath the waves), is a mythical island reached by an underwater route and sea path. This space of promise and abundance is reflected in the sustaining properties of water, and compares to the River Styx in Greek myths and the ferryman, Charon, who led the dead to the underworld by way of boat. These mythical voyages permeate the work’s form, with the three acts echoing a journey towards an imaginary landscape, held separate by miasmic planes of water.
Let it run all over me seeks to create a shared space for listening, with the river above acting as a common framework to make visible the collective possibilities of bodies of water, and reflect on the vital work of those who sustain it within the context of Belfast and the Lagan Weir, and more broadly.
With thanks to the team at Lagan Weir and Belfast City Council for their generous support. This project forms part of Grace Jackson and Cecelia Graham’s Curator in Residence programme at PS².
It is necessary to book for this event which is free.
Please book here via eventbrite
About the artist
Christopher Steenson is an artist based between the North and South of Ireland. With a background in psychology and the sonic environment, his work uses sound, analogue photography, writing and digital media to forge ways of ‘listening to the future’.
Drawing upon the open methodologies of John Cage, and the idea of ‘correspondences’ proposed by anthropologist Tim Ingold, Steenson’s sound-based artworks attempt to operate as a collaborative process, emerging as a field of potentialities between listeners and (speculative) environments. Often taking the form of installations, public interventions and broadcasts, these artworks use the conventions of radio and transmission-based infrastructure to locate audiences within a ‘dreamtime’ – a space in which pasts, presents, and futures are negotiated on a continuum.
Recent and upcoming presentations include: a solo exhibition at Flat Time House, London (2023); ‘Periodical Review 12: Practical Magic’ at Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin (2022); ‘TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2022: The World Was All Before Them’, curated by Clare Gormley; ‘Soft Rains Will Come’ at VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art (2022), curated by Emma Lucy O’Brien and Benjamin Stafford; ‘Translations’ at Project DivFuse, London (2022), ‘Connemara Landscape’ for Sonorities sound biennale, Belfast (2022); the group exhibition ‘Urgencies’ at CCA Derry~Londonderry (2021), curated by Locky Morris and Catherine Hemelryk; and the national public sound artwork On Chorus (2020).