A Day In Hallam Tower

The piano arrived at Hallam Tower before me this morning. It was really exciting to walk in and see everything that I had been working on for the past month in place. It was incredibly refreshing to not need to worry about the logistics of the project and instead focus on the creative output.

Switching all the circuits inside the piano on I was delighted to find that nothing had been damaged in transit/by the rain and it all worked first try. I got to work right away with recording audio of the piano in the space. Location recording is always problematic and unfortunately the weather made it very difficult to get a clear recording. The wall-less building acted as a wind tunnel and regular gusts of wind ruined several recordings, even though I was using a wind shield. Eventually we came up with a recording setup that managed to get rid of most of the wind noise. By fitting the recorder to a tripod we could hold coats in a U shape surrounding it, this managed to stop all but the strongest gusts of wind. Although the wind and rain made it very difficult to record, it did create a fantastic wash of sound that mingled fantastically with the sounds of the piano. Both the building and the piano were performing together. I recorded the piano from a number of different angles and distances. Over the next few days I will edit these recordings together, creating a piece that moves through the space demonstrating how the building and the piano interacted. After the audio was recorded we moved onto filming.

Filming the building was a delight. Despite its dilapidation the grandeur of the building is still very much apparent and the drab weather created an excellent backdrop to the crumbling concrete. We focused mostly on slow panning shots, aiming to create footage that slowly revealed details of the building. These shots will mirror the audio of the video which will gradually reveal what the piano is playing. Whilst filming we were extremely conscious of the buildings impending demolition and wanted to ensure that every aspect of this fantastic building was captured. Chencheng is going to have an extremely difficult job editing this into a five minute film, we have several hours of footage.

Working in hard hats and high vis jackets was an interesting experience. They were surprisingly restrictive and filming shots – particularly at difficult angles – took some practice to get right. We were all extremely grateful for the PPE by the end of the day however, as the wind and rain made it a very cold place to work and on occasion dislodged pieces of concrete from the ceiling.

Here is a small selection of photos I captured at Hallam Tower.

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