Victoria Baths, Manchester, UK - first opened to the public in1906
this remarkable public building was, for a time, derelict and on the verge of being demolished. A team of dedicated volunteers and fundraisers have, along with all the other activities that now take place there, given back to the nation a remarkable listening lens.
every building has its own voice, to which is added chorales of the locale in which it sits. I often spend long periods of time listening to buildings and think of it as a privilege and a rare chance to spend time allowing their voices to become fully audible to me. However, asking others to do this at the same time is, I have to admit, often a big ask. We as a species are happy to sit quietly watching something - a view, a picture, a tv or cinema screen, but to sit and listen, paying as much attention to the audible as we do to the visual in our daily lives is something that remains a challenge or a puzzling idea for lots of people.
in the afternoon our small group were free to explore the entire building, listening to it with our ears and with various microphones and devices. During the afternoon break myself & Rae made a recording with small omni microphones in one of the pool sections (tracks 1 & 3), this included playing back into the space a geophone recoding made earlier. In the evening we invited the public to come and listen to this remarkable space (tracks 2 & 4). Some asked what we were listening to or what for ? most expressed surprise at how much they enjoyed the experience even when they perceived that ‘nothing’ was actually being played in the space. That, it seems to me, was a good outcome indeed.
- jez riley french