Wednesday, 10 September 2014

"Parts Unknown" Gets New Interest As Sir John Franklin's ship is found

In June this year, Ross Ashton and myself gave the first showing of a new work "Parts Unknown", about Victorian views of Arctic exploration and the fated voyage of Sir John Franklin in 1845 to discover the North West Passage.
Yesterday announcements were made that one of the two ships, either the HMS Erebus or the HMS Terror, has just been discovered:
The Guardian's article today and The BBC news item

It seems a timely moment then to talk a little about "Parts Unknown".

Commissioned by East Lindsey District Council for the SO2014 Festival, "Parts Unknown" was a new style of work for us within the son et lumiere genre.
Arctic exploration in popular Victorian culture was both romantic and heroic. We explored magic lantern slide shows which were created to show 'typical' Arctic scenes to a curious British public. Working with the Magic Lantern Society, Ross constructed a sequence of slides and movements from privately held collections, which included images of Franklin.
The arctic soundscapes are a blend of electronic and found sounds. I looked at numerous musical options to try and capture something of what could be the lost folk song melodies about the disappearance of Sit John Franklin. Therefore, the visual elements deliberately emulate a magic lantern show and to balance this, folk song, poetry and the strange foreign arctic world, with all its dangers are heard in the sound.

It can be seen and heard in archival video here:

'Parts Unknown' - The Voyage of Sir John Franklin from Ross Ashton on Vimeo.