Remote Performances: Day 1 – What is Remoteness?

Remote Performances is a collaboration between artists London Fieldworks, Resonance104.4fm, (the world’s first art radio station), and LADA. From the 4 to 9 August 2014, 20 specially commissioned artist performances and programmes created with local residents are being broadcast live from Outlandia, a unique artists' field-station in Glen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland. 

Remote Performances will be broadcast daily from 12-4pm (listen live

Below is the first in a series of blogposts written by Tracey Warr responding to Remote Perfomances, the blogposts will be published daily on LADA's blog throughout the project. 

Day 1 – What is Remoteness?, Mon 4 Aug – Loch Ailort, Scottish Highlands 

What is remoteness and where is it? Twenty artists converge on Fort William 
to engage with mountains, forest, loch. Resonance 104.4fm radio decamps 
from London to a temporary studio in Outlandia, an artists treehouse in Glen 
Nevis. A cèilidh band cram into the tiny tardis space. It is a struggle to 
broadcast in the face of grim weather and difficult topography – Ben Nevis 
mountain opposite, large trees in the way. A satellite moves overhead hoping 
for an ecstatic jolt of connection with the antenna, a thwarted technological 
mating. 

Travelling 15 hours to get here, driving in pitch-blackness, rust and green 
roadside foliage lit by headlights, teeming with deer. Arriving at the artists’ 
shared house, four people in the kitchen sit, hooked up to laptops, 
headphones, screens showing sound graphics. Is anywhere really remote? 

The sea is a few feet from the house. This morning a yellow lobster trawler 
circles the bay, waves colliding with rock ramparts. Fingers of wet volcanic 
rock test the waters. The view shifts minute by minute with weather and tide. 
Low roiling clouds look at the sea and at the land as if in a mirror. The ground 
is wildly hummocky. Air smells of soil, seaweed and pine cones. A stone seat 
lodges like a cushion in the crooks of a tree’s many elbows. Water drops 
silver in matted grass, trickle to part long reeds, slip down banks, barge past 
rocks in the stream, thunder over small falls, linger in peaty rock pools. 

Clair Chinnery builds a human nest, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly plays piano in 
the woods. Mark Vernon, Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson’s broadcast the 
sound of Lochaber: milking cows, shearing sheep, reducing duck fat, a 
cockerel’s crow, the animal auction bell. 

Even here the sound of roads is relentless as wind. 61 million people in 
93,000 square miles of land in Britain, 30 million cars, 210,000 miles of road, 
but 5000 islands, 500 mountains, 300 rivers (Macfarlane, The Wild Places). 

Sarah Kenchington clambers across a litter of huge rocks on the beach. 
Washing machine hoses, a trumpet, inner tubes, a foot pump, marigold gloves 
wave loose like tentacles from her backpack. Everything is connected 
together with balloons, improvised washers and sticky tape and then fixed to a 
long pipe washed up in the wrack line. The sea adds its own spit and low bass 
note to this wind instrument in the surf. Dusk falls over the bay. Rocks are 
black hump silhouettes like whales against pale blue and pink streaks of sky. 
A pine marten comes to eat a jam sandwich on the deck. 

Remoteness is fluid. It is spatial and temporal, psychological and geographic. 
In remoteness, removed from daily routines and networks, the self and the 
world become strange new locales for exploration and reportage. 

Other blogposts:

 

Remote Performances: Day One – What Is Remoteness?

Remote Performances: Day Two – Soundings

Remote Performances: Day Three – Off the Grid Radio

Remote Performances: Day Four – And then…

Remote Performances: Day Five – Climbing a mountain in blue suede shoes*

Remote Performances: Day Six – Wild Radio

Banner image credit:

Sarah Kenchington performs in Lochailort with her pneumatic euphonium. Image by London Fieldworks

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