2A: Earth Core

by Julian Ruddock & John Harvey

Sample 1 10:00
Sample 2 10:00
Sample 3 10:00


The sound artefacts were designed, in collaboration with the artist Julian Ruddock, to accompany the HD film installation entitled ‘2A’. His work is made up of a sequence of hundreds of high-resolution photographs of earth cores extracted from a site in southern Ethiopia. The photographs were combined into one twenty-four hour film that takes the viewer into the distant past, some 500,000 years ago. The layers are sedimentary records of Lake Chew Bahir [The Ocean of Salt] in the Rift Valley. These layers accumulated over time as the lake fluctuated between wet and dry environmental conditions.

Several recordings of the core drilling in progress provided the raw sonic material for the artefacts. Sound samples were extracted from the recordings (like the cores from the earth) to form a 10-minute unit that was repeated 6 times (laid end-to-end, as it were) to form a one-hour long sequence, which, in turn, was repeated 24 times. In this way, the processes of sound and visual composition were analogical. The samples were, also, variously slowed down, lowered in pitch, bit crushed, and overlaid. The intention was to create a sound that was, at one of the same time, unsettling, apocalyptic (evoking the potential calamity of present-day climate change in the future), and suggestive of a journey into deep depth and time, corresponding to the course of the core in the film.

‘Sample 1’ was chosen to accompany the film.


released July 11, 2017

Personnel: Drilling team, Julian Ruddock, and John Harvey
Instrumentation: Adobe Audition CS6
Context: Earth-boring project, Lake Chew Bahir, Ethiopia. 'Sample 1' first exhibited at Aberystwyth Arts Centre Gallery, May 20 – June 10, 2017
Source: Recording of drilling process


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John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

Harvey is a historian of art, visual culture, and sound art, and also a sound- and visual-art practitioner. His research field is the visual and sonic culture of religion, principally. He explores non-iconic attitudes to visualization and sonic articulations of religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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