Engaged Voice - excerpts of site specific voice work

by Ellen Southern

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I am very pleased to have been selected to make a new work for the Edwardian Cloakroom, as part of Bristol City Council’s 2014 autumn programme for Bristol Creative Spaces.

Engaged Voice is a site-specific vocal sound installation which was created and installed in the Edwardian Cloakroom, a disused public conveniences built in 1904. The work explores being in this space vocally, with all the sound being generated using my own voice and a basic recording device.

I used the particular acoustics of this unusual place to vocalise the sounds resonating in from outside, such as sirens, alarms, the distorted chatter of passers by, as well as imitating the many voices of the site such as the sounds of its surfaces, pipes, flush chains etc. With this approach, I aimed to draw attention to the sounds of space itself, and open the ears to what it is like to be within it.

The work invited visitors to spontaneously contribute their own voices, encouraging the kind of secret singing many people do in bathrooms etc. Also, in scheduled participatory performances I used the installed recordings as a basis for further experimentation, by singing an additional vocal layer live from the other side of the building, and by inviting visitors to contribute their own voices, creating spontaneous ‘choirs’ of strangers.

Selected visitors comments:

“Thankyou, a whole immersive experience – really enjoyed the sound work, very specific use of space”

“Great show – thanks for opening up my mind and ears to sound” Jami

“Very enchanting and interesting concept – made hairs stand on end!” Liz, Bristol

“Interesting sound textures breathing life back into a classic building. Well done!” Matt, Bristol

“Beautiful show – atmospheric and enigmatic” S.O

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released December 7, 2014
Ellen Southern



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Ellen Southern Bristol, UK

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