Noise and Sound

‘Lowlands’ by Susan Phillipz (2010)

Lowlands is a sound instillation work by a sculpture artist Susan Phillipz. She is a Glasgow born artist originally trained in the field of sculpture. She studied sculpture at Duncan of Jordanstone Collage of Art in Dundee which she continually draws influence from to inform her work today which she references as “Sound Sculptures”. Susan’s works involve recordings of herself singing folk songs as the primary medium. She projects her voice over a public speaker system to interact with the natural surroundings.

The work ‘Lowlands’ was initially performed in a walkway space underneath the bridges on top of the Ricer Clyde in Glasgow. Susan is not musically trained thus on entry level, the instillation can sound rather ordinary. As you move around the space, three large black speakers infiltrate the surrounding air with Susan’s voice performing a cover of a 16th century Scottish ballad known as ‘Lowlands’. It is installed under the bridges so that the viewer experiences echoing and the refraction of sound bouncing off the water which resonates noise and tone around the viewer thus making the audience experience the same work in multiple different ways by hearing sounds differently as they move around the work.

A critically important fact to note is that the artist cannot read nor does she write any of her own music. She even admits that her own voice is distinctly average. She has quoted that she even hates the sound of her own voice, “I partially hate my speaking voice”. (Corner, 2010)Yet she uses her untrained and unaccompanied singing voice as her sole medium, which interacts with the cityscape and nature surrounding her, which changes the viewers perspective. She quotes, “It’s all about how the emotive and psychological effects of sound can heighten your awareness of the space you are in,” she says. “It felt like a very natural progression to go from sculpture to sound.” (Corner, 2010) It is also interesting to note that this work is quite controversial. Some viewers believe that due to the lack of musical training it is quite uncomfortable to listen to Susan’s work and that they cant appreciate its value, especially when it was nominated and won the Turner Prize worth 25,000 euros. Some speculate that because she is an untrained musician and also the first sound artist ever to be shortlisted for the most prestigious prize in British art, that she isn’t worthy of such a prestigious nomination let alone wonning the award.


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Corner, L. 2010, ‘The art of noise: ‘sculptor in sound’ Susan Philipsz’, The guardian, 14 November, pp.5-6


Planning for project 2 (B) UPDATE

An update on research, images and planning for project 2 (B) including changes, surprises, challenges and explicit steps you will make to reach your completion of this task.

We have stuck with the film making style of a documentation where there will be video footage as well as a voice over explaining the process we went though, thoughts and onlookers reactions to our work. We filmed from different angles and perspectives to show various angles of the creating process and how we got to the final step. Changes we made include a variety of different shots, camera angles (e.g panning, aerial shot, long shot, slow-motion), a better microphone as the one we previously recorded on using a phone picked up too many background noises. We also added a weighted object to weigh down the string as it was getting tangled and blowing away with the wind as Madi tried to guide the string down to ground level. Surprises included the reaction from onlookers who slow down to take in what was happening during the hoisting of the string which were being pulled up and suspending into the air. People were looking up while walking and were curious to why a string was being suspended between two buildings.

After the viewing the draft video in class, we got feedback and this pushed us to re-iterate our current draft.

Feedback and what to do for our next step:

  • Write out our script to make it more formal
  • Include a conclusion to make a close as we are filming in a documentary style
  • More experimentations
  • Use film editing techniques – overlapping, montage, fast – slow – fast motion
  • Level of audio – lower volume
  • Background music/ one continuous song playing the whole time- environmental sounds

Re-iterate video and create a montaged documentary:

  • Script of voice over during documentary
  • Use research of artists and material research in our documentary.
  • Use different colour strings across buildings or lower to the ground out a house window to an object (tree etc) and collect a series of images in 5-10 locations. Get 50+ photographs and montage them together.

After we got feedback as written above – we were suggested to make a montage like La Jetée. We had a discussion and thought over if we could pull it off and after much thought we decided to meet up again to document a new process. In the end we decided to bring in different coloured strings to tie and make a suspension between low/medium level structures such as trees, poles, windows and staircase and take photographs to create a documented montage of it filling a void between two spaces.

Research question: What does it mean to suspend it space?

By suspending a string between two points which cuts through open space in a public area, we give that unfilled space a meaning and an artistic purpose.

Draft video:

An update on research and planning for project 2B

​An update on research and planning for project 2 (B) including changes, surprises, challenges and explicit steps you will make to reach your completion of this task


After our initial experimentation of dropping string out of the housing building and the opposing car park we found it difficult to hold foot traffic back with just one of us on the ground whilst we tied the string together. Moving forward we plan to have as many people as possible on ground level so that two people can halt the foot traffic whilst the third attaches the two strings. The final person will pull the string from the housing side as quick as possible so that the foot traffic on ground level can continue to pass through the space- hopefully observing and engaging in our work.

After the initial experiment we also noticed that wind plays a huge part in how successfully we can lower the string without it getting caught on the building walls or different car park levels. Having a weight of some sort to lower the string down will be beneficial moving forward so that the string doesn’t get caught on every level of the car park which was challenging in our initial experiment. We also need to take into consideration a narration script for our documentary so that the language isn’t too colloquial (um’s and yeahs). The use of a good microphone is also imperative so that the voice isn’t muffled and scratchy. We found that most of our favorite footage was artistic shots of the smaller details like the string pooling on the ground when dropped off the building and the cutting of the string which made the string flurry in the breeze. These were all beautiful shots placing emphasis on the process as well as the finished product.


  • Film the final ordeal
  • Document the entire process
  • Write a narrative script
  • Voice recording of narration
  • Editing!!



Planing for Project 2B

A post planning project 2 (B), make explicit which aspect you are in charge of, what your methods are, and how you will mesh these with the tasks and methods undertaken by your other group members.

For project 2B we are planning of making a documentary style film to capture ‘what is means to suspend in space’. For us, this means drawing connections between two structures and filling an empty and boring void of air with purpose and art.

We plan to do this by dropping two strings off two buildings facing each other about 25m away from each other. We then plan to tie the strings in the middle of the void at ground level before pulling the string tight to hoist the string into the air thus making a connection between the two structures. My job will be to go into the student housing building and take care of tying the string to the building and dropping the excess over the edge to the girls on the ground. Madi will do the same from the car park and then Monica will tie them together whilst Lynn captures and documents the process from ground level. Once the string is joined I will pull the excess slack of the string as fast as I can to make the string taut across the void. Once our individual tasks are completed and in any spare moment we get we will each film the process to document the event from our respective locations to get varying point of views. We then need to edit all of our footage together. Monica is a wiz on the editing program however we will all edit the footage together so that it is a cohesive and polished documentary.


Location shot of the carpark from UTS Housing


A Sequence Exegesis: Oldboy

Oldboy, a South Korean mystery thriller directed by Park Chan-Wook is loosely adapted from the Japanese manga written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi.

The film embodies an emotional and psychological depth imbued with vengeance where the main character, Oh Dae-Su wakes up in a hotel styled prison. He has been trapped there for 15 years without knowing his captors motives nor identity. By watching television in the room, he learns that he is a prime suspect for his wife’s murder. When released, he seeks his captor to get revenge on his imprisonment.

In this particular scene, Lee Woo-Jin (Oh Dae-Su’s captor) recalls his sisters suicide. The editing technique used is cross cutting where it is divided by alternate jumps in time to establish continuity whilst creating one line of narrative. The flashback shows a moment in time where he struggles to hang on to his sister’s hand, who is hanging off a bridge.


The use of colour saturations and intentional grain contrast the bright colours between the two scenes represent the nature their life was and is in that period of time. Park finds the balance between method and story,  instilling purely emotional responses in his viewers through intense and compelling storylines.

It is framed from both perspectives, looking down at his sister where the background is a body of water surrounded by air, and a perspective from her where her brother is barricaded by the bridge wall leaning as much as he can to hold her up. By using the camera Lee Woo-Jin has around his neck, his sister grabs onto it, says her last few words and takes a photo of herself smiling. By viewing the scene through the viewfinder of the camera where she directly looks at the lens to take a photo, it frames a personal moment symbolising a moment in time captured forever.

The sounds of this scene include an melodic orchestra playing in a bitterly melancholic way to accompany the scene of heart breaking cries and a weak dialogue.

Although the scenes of the past show blue skies and white clouds on a sunny day, the mood makes the audience feel empathetic. When he let goes, the camera shows his arm where again it shows cross cutting. His hand turns into the shape of a gun where he motions to pull a trigger. It suddenly goes back into a gloomy dark present where an elevator door opens as a gun shot is heard, the sound of the orchestra is null and there is silence. All you can hear now is the metal banging from where he hit his head and a fall to the ground. The camera then slowly creeps out to show the body of the elevator, this camera technique makes the character grow smaller compared to the world around them, as if the camera is abandoning them, backing away and protecting ourselves from their pain. It then cuts to a slow push-in on a blood dripping sorrow face with a bullet hole to the head.

I think this excerpt is an important part of the film as it shows an intense emotional scene which changes the audiences view of a certain character that you had no remorse for initially. Park challenges explicit violence and creates symbolism in support of these narratives by using different film and sound techniques, such as the gun hand gesturing and the cutting of silence to emphasise a section of the scene. Instead of using depth, he uses modern aesthetics that foreground flat space, symmetric shot compositions and unmotivated camera movements (Sultan, 2014). By using these methods to tell a story, Park presents a poetic purpose not only through narrative but also by cinematography.


Research and planning for project 2B

For the project 2B film. We decided to make a documentary film. Two of us will drop the string off building from each building and one people stand at downstairs tie the strings together and keep the safe when people walking through. Then one person on the top of building pulls the string back. To make the string tight in the sky. We will take a long shot to record the whole process from downstairs. And in the meantime the person who on the top of each building also can film the process from the variety of angles. And we plan to use a microphone to record voice to explain what we do.

Making the first documentary film is not easy for us. We are not the filmmaker,  so we have to learn the basic technology of editing and film the real places and people which give the greater aesthetics to of every shot. I researched some tutorial of making a documentary.  There are some important things of making a documentary film. For example, the first exposition creates the viewer’s first impression and introduces the content. We have to catch the viewer’s attention at the very beginning. Also, have a good storyboard can tell a good story. Before shot, we need a list of the footage and write a script. Furthermore, music is increasingly important in documentaries. Soundtracks can provide context and fix the emotional of the message being conveyed. Background music enhances the depiction of a story-advancing sequence. 




A history student’s guide to documentary filmmaking techniques., international school history, Viewed on 22 May 2017,<>

Making A Documentary Without Money, Youtube, Viewed on 22 May 2017,>

Planning for project 2 (B)

A post including research images and planning for project 2 (B), make explicit which aspect you are in charge of, what your methods are, and how you will mesh these with the tasks and methods undertaken by your other group members.

As we preciously researched artists in project 2 (A), we were inspired by each artists individual use of space and how they filled it. Although the artists we researched suspended wire/string with a functional purpose such as to walk across or hang objects on an art installation, we wanted to suspend string across two structures as the purpose was to fill a space and give it an artistic meaning to simply just exist in an open environment.

e.g Philippe Petit


Our plan is to create a documentary style of film making with our research question ‘What does it mean to suspend in space?’ and answering that will accompany a visual process and final outcome. The first thing we had to figured out was a way to connect the string from one side of the UTS Housing the the Novotel carpark. We thought it would be impossible to throw it as it was a long distance and too high above ground, the string would get tangled if we took it all the way up to the opposite building while it was tied to a pole on the UTS side. We then just decid to cut it at half way point and tie them both when they reach the ground and then pull from both sides so there’s no slack and it would be suspended in the air between the two buildings.


Lynn will capture and document the process from ground level and on the bridge which connects to building 6.

Maddy will go to the highest accessible point in the UTS student housing which is level 8. She will go to the balcony and tie the string on the railing and then drop the remainder of the string over the edge of the railing which will fall to the ground level infront of housing.

Maddi would have the same job on tying the string to the railing and dropping it down but on Novotel level 7 carpark.

Once all of the remaining string is on ground level, I would move to the middle of the walk way and join the two ends to tie them together to create one connected string. When the string is ready to be pulled, Maddy will pull the excess string which will hoist up in the space between the buildings to create a tight suspension in the air and then tie it so it will not be loose.

After it has successfully suspended in air, we each film the outcome from our locations to show different perspectives. When we have all the footage in one folder, I will edit on Final cut pro as I have the most experience, however we will all be working together to edit the footage and create a documentary.

As it will be in a documentary style we decided to have a voice over rather than filming one of us explaining the process and including the footage of explanation into the video.

The void we are going to fill: