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* what is a sound mirror?




Soundmirror is a participatory arts project that listens to and reflects the soundscapes of coastal environments through the sites of First World War sound mirrors in the North East today.

During the First World War, sound mirrors were built along the North East coast in Clavering, Seaham, Sunderland and Redcar, to give an early warning of approaching zeppelins by listening for the sounds of their engines as they approached across the sea. These large concrete dishes could amplify distant sounds of the approaching aircraft that were not yet visible over the horizon and in doing so they expanded the spatial limits of the site by connecting with something remote from itself.

During the project artist Rob Smith has delivered participatory workshops and built relationships with people who have connections to the sound mirrors on the North East Coast. Through these activities and the digital artwork that has developed from it this project examines how ‘listening’ to the contemporary coastal environment can enable the site of the sound mirror to emerge from the intersection of technologies and shared histories. By questioning the sound mirror’s continuing role in the contemporary landscape, Soundmirror creates a space that can enable engagement with the archaeological site of the Clavering sound mirror to expand it beyond simply being an historic location.

Soundmirror was commissioned by SeaScapes Co/Lab initiative, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to inspire agency, advocacy and responsibility for maintaining the health and sustainability of our coastline.