"~ was one of my first in person collaborations since the coronavirus pandemic began and a suitably gentle re-introduction to the world outside my home.
Over the course of six weeks from the middle of July 2021, I travelled regularly on the newly established electric bus from Kinross to Dundee.
On arrival I’d meet Su at the waterfront where we’d begin the day by drinking coffee next to the Tay or one of the four shallow pools of water that surround the V&A. We’d catch up and share ideas about what the sound installation might be like.
We accumulated a long list of ideas and together with our third collaborator Simon Kirby we tested things out and gradually refined our thoughts. [Simon’s a very good friend and long term collaborator who I’ve been working with for 15 years. Simon, Su and I worked on another project Sing the Gloaming in 2020 but this was the first time the three of us had met in person].
Su is great company and someone I really enjoy collaborating with. She’s passionate about learning and exploring and sharing. She lives close to the V&A – just a short walk away – and it’s clear to me that she has spent a long time around the museum listening, looking and thinking.
Due to the curving shape of the pools and the contours of the museum wind is channeled around the building creating a surprising diversity of wave effects.
I lived in Dundee for four years and I think the light by the Tay estuary is special. The river is often described as the silvery Tay and Dundee proudly proclaims to be the sunniest city in Scotland
– but it can also be very windy!
This combination of shifting light and moving air creates infinitely complex ripples in the pools that I find fascinating.
Like me, I think Su became somewhat entranced by the way the water moves in the pools.
I haven’t spent nearly as much time there as Su but when the V&A first opened I’d went to film the water ripples a couple of times. I’ve looked back at the footage I captured often and it appeared in several music videos I made for our mutual friend Andrew Wasylyk. Viewed through a camera lens, with a framing that crops out anything other than the water, I’ve felt I could be looking at huge waves far out in a stormy sea.
In the tunnel the light is restricted and often makes stark high-contrast shadows on the waves rendering them incredibly graphic. Through the tunnel, around the corner to the left where the V&A’s staff offices border the Tay promenade, the repeating undulations disturb reflections of the building’s striking geometry.
The waves at once mimic and distort mirror images of the concrete fins that clad the museum’s exterior. Further around the building by the garden plantings the pools seemingly reveal an ever-changing muddle of colours that I cannot easily find the origin for. And when the sun is setting all of these variations can appear to be even more mesmerising.
The movement of the water in the pools is a visual expression of the environmental conditions at any given time. I can understand how Su began to think of the pools as a starting point for sound. Together Su, Simon and I shaped our ideas into a sonic artwork that responds dynamically to these environmental shifts. I think Su’s great skill has been her restraint and ability to strip away ideas to reveal a work that compliments the space so beautifully. It has been exactly the kind of project I want to be involved in."
– Tommy Perman