Voice Across Time



I’m currently privileged to be listening to sound archives at the Museum of Bath at Work, oral histories recorded mostly in the 1980s.  Hunched in the building’s basement, with headphones placing the voices of the interviewees inside my head, some of these people have entered my heart too.  It’s started me thinking again about how Voice, a complex ephemerality produced by air and muscle movement from the instant we’re born, can cut across time, building relationships between people who’ve never met.  Every one of us, even those denied the power of speech for various reasons, has a sound that’s as unique as fingerprints.  In some languages the word for ‘soul’ is related to that for ‘breath’.  ‘In-spire’ is life, the taking in of spirit.  Ron Perry spent his working days as a car and truck mechanic, but he spent all his life responding to the world around him, alive to potential in the small things.  The pleasures he describes touch me even though I’ve never experienced them, and make me wish I could have talked to him.  Here’s a fragment of his recollections.  I hope it makes you as happy and thoughtful as it does me.


recording property of Museum of Bath at Work


you have to laugh…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Three hundred thousand years of activity by homo sapiens has brought us to this moment… and this one…  and this one too.  That’s a lot of moments we’ve gathered up between us.  At the moment, the world our species is continuing to create seems increasingly absurd.  Can questions even be relevant any more???  It can’t be coincidence that in this climate I’m currently working on a site-responsive installation which is making me wonder if I’ve discovered the soundtrack to Alfred Jarry’s concept of Pataphysics – the science of imaginary solutions.

Have a listen if you like –