The Subterranean Sound Tunnel is an installation work commissioned by MAGNA Science Adventure Centre and presented in association with the Fabulous Sound Machines. It is funded by Arts Council England. Exhibit fabrication and the amazing steel horn structure (see photos below) are by Matt Harling.

The Subterranean Sound Tunnel explores the ‘sonic heritage’ of the MAGNA site. The soundscapes incorporated in the installation are composed as ‘ghostings’ of the underground industrial sound world that occupied the tunnels during the original melting shop’s life and afterlife. These compositions are ‘regenerated’ through the current sound-space of the tunnel, occupying both a conceptual and physical sound environment and using the building as an instrument, reverberant chamber, processor and point of critical and sonic synthesis.

The installation consists of three composed soundscapes, each constructed using manipulated and warped field recordings made in different spaces around the site. The soundscapes are then fired down 150m of the tunnel structure where they emerge out of a giant galvanized steel horn, merging with the local sound environment. Soundscape playback is controlled at a public remote control station constructed using reclaimed parts from the original steel works control systems, in partnership with an Arduino system. Phidgets touch sensors control the playback speed/pitch of the sample and the delay level/feedback applied to the soundscapes allowing the public to recompose the work, performing and tuning it to their own experience of the MAGNA site.

The control panel

The galvanised steel horn where sound emerges from the tunnel

Working in the tunnel

In the workshop with Matt Harling

A section of the original site plans showing the tunnel (it heads off around the back of the building and dog-legs towards Rotherham

Patch testing

System prototyping in the studio