Resounding Rivers

Six site-specific sound installations exhibited across Belfast. In conjunction with PLACE Built Environment Centre and Belfast City Council. 6th May – 5th June 2010.

Installations were accompanied by a a video installation housed within PLACE and also a print map, which was available from numerous venues in Belfast. Both these elements were produced by Ryan O’Reilly. Special thanks to Ruairí Ó Baoill for sharing his knowledge upon Belfast’s aquatic history, which the work explores.

Location of Installations: PLACE, Fountain Street; Kellys Cellar, Bank Street; Bittles Bar, Victoria Street; Cloth Ear, Waring Street; Waterfront Hall, Lanyon Place and BBC, Ormeau Avenue.

Each installation provided an augmentation to the everyday sound field, present in the selected site. Sound was delivered directly into Belfast’s streets from speakers positioned upon one of six venues. Each venue was selected because it is situated upon, or by, the previous route of one of Belfast’s three central rivers. Two of these rivers, the Farset and Blackstaff, no longer flow over ground; they are constricted to large pipes running beneath the city. The third river, the Lagan, is still a prominent feature in Belfast but was once much wider. Through deepening the Lagan’s channel, a great deal of land has been reclaimed and built upon.

The sound presented by each installation was a reimagining of what the city’s buried and constricted rivers and waterways may once have sounded like. Each of the six selected sites would have had a different relationship with its respective water source and this was reflected in the delivered sound. In order to achieve the reimaging, locations in Northern Ireland with similar water features to those previously in Belfast were visited and recorded.

Resounding Rivers highlighted the rapid changes that occurred to the topology of Belfast over a two hundred and fifty year period of growth and development, particularly over the course of the industrial revolution in which the rivers became severely polluted and were regarded as an obstruction to the city’s progress. The work presented this history at a time in Belfast when a great deal of new development and regeneration was underway. Resounding Rivers brought forth the history of the river so as to question the then present bout of construction, asking whether the things being replaced may be missed or may be of value to a future populous.

The map that accompanied Resounding Rivers depicted where the rivers once flowed and demonstrated where each of the six installations were situated. In doing, it was hoped that the map would inspire a walk through the city, along the previous course of the rivers.

A PDF version of the full map can be found here.

BBC article:
Culture NI article: