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2A: Earth Core [single]

by Julian Ruddock & John Harvey



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.


released July 11, 2017
All compositions ℗ and © 2017 Julian Ruddock and John Harvey

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

Engineered and produced by: John Harvey
Cover Concept and artwork by: John Harvey
Cover image: core sample, Department of Geography & Earth Science, Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK
Conceived and mastered at: School of Art, Aberystwyth University, 2017


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John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

I’m a practitioner and historian of sound art and visual art, and former Professor of Art at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, UK. My research field is the sonic and visual culture of religion. I explore the sonic articulations of the Christian religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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