Barely: part-1

Natasha Barrett

Programme Notes

Barely: part-1

Barely: part-1 was originally a 70-minute spatial sound and visual immersive installation resulting from a collaboration between Natasha Barrett and architect and designer Birger Sevaldson along with the group Ocean North.

The work was designed as a site-specific installation for Kanonhallen in Oslo (Norway). The Germans requisitioned Kanonhallen during WWII for use as an artillery factory. The space is 50 meters long, 13.5 meters wide and 8 meters high. The walls and floor are concrete. High glass windows allow the changing light to penetrate the room throughout the day. Barely: part-1 was installed in October 2007, which in Oslo is a month of rapid daylight change. The room acoustics are complex: In addition to a reverberation duration of over three seconds, various flutter echoes and comb filter effects are found at different points of the room.

Visual materials for the installation consist of 20 clear, colourless one-mm thick, one-meter wide and four-meter long polycarbonate foils hang from a 9 by 8-meter ceiling grid. The foils were painted with a line pattern in ultraviolet reflective paint. This pattern was designed in detail through computer simulations to both enhance and skew the spatial topology. Naturally occurring sounds from in- and outside the space were recorded and classified in terms of intrinsic (spectral and temporal, or ‘inside’ the sound) and extrinsic (referential, or referring ‘outside’ the sound) content. These materials included everyday sounds such as the activity of a janitor and two onsite workers, sounds from the neighbouring building site, a kindergarten, a motorbike courier and a distant propeller plane. Outdoor sources were recorded both outside and inside Kanonhallen so as to be filtered through the unusual room acoustic. The blend of indoor and outdoor sounds dissolved the sense of boundary. In addition, close-microphone recordings, which exclude room acoustics, were used to rearticulate detail when micro-scale variations in temporal and spectral information were lost. Editing and transformation served two main functions. To explore extrinsic information by creating a continuum from a sound suggesting a direct causal basis or concrete reference, to a sound of remote causal basis or abstract reference. Sounds of concrete reference were used to create a network of indicative relationships suggestive mainly of human activity in ordinary environments. And to explore intrinsic information by drawing attention to, and isolating, small details and fluctuations in sound identity, spectrum and morphology. (Even more information about the work can be found in the composer’s website.)

The listening level of Barely: part-1 should be adjusted such that the sound is just audible.

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The audio of Barely: part-1 was realized in 2006-07 at the composer’s studio and the installation was premiered on October 9, 2007 during the Ulitma Festival at Kanonhallen in Oslo (Norway). The installation was made possible by support from the Norsk kulturråd (Arts Council Norway), Notam (Norwegian network for Technology, Acoustics and Music), Fond for Utovender Kunstnere, and the Ultima Festival. On Bouteilles de Klein Barely: part-1 has been remixed and reduced to 39 minutes in 2008 at the composer’s studio and is intended to create a background sound environment. The work was researched and composed during a stipend from the Norsk kulturråd (Arts Council Norway), 2006-08.

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • Cycle: The Barely Project (2006-08)
  • Composer(s): Natasha Barrett
  • Year of composition: 2006-07
  • Arranger(s): Natasha Barrett
  • Year of arrangement: 2008
  • ISWC: T0029536308
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISRC: CAD501010221