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Artwork capturing the voices of thousands of local residents returns to the centremk this January

Date Posted:09/01/2018

City of Things Milton KeynesCity of Things - a large-scale sound installation by composer and sound artist Caroline Devine - returns to the centre:mk from 6 January until 4 February. Running daily from 10am to 8pm, this ambitious new artwork celebrates the sounds of the unique city of Milton Keynes, and captures the voices of thousands of local residents.
 
City of Things has been commissioned for City Club, an Arts Council England funded city-wide arts programme inspired by the original cultural plans for Milton Keynes. Led by MK Gallery, City Club brings together artists and arts organisations from across the city to celebrate Milton Keynes’ unique environment and dynamic population across six decades.
 
Bletchley Park has worked collaboratively with MK Gallery, other members of Heritage MK (Milton Keynes Museum, the Living Archive, City Discovery Centre, Cowper & Newton Museum) and the Open University to support artist Caroline Devine to realise this unique work. City of Things draws inspiration from the rich resource material within these organisations to explore the voices and sounds of the city, past and present.
 
Describing the piece, Devine states: 'City of Things focuses on the voices, sounds and signals of Milton Keynes - exploring the city through the ears, rather than the eyes. The sound installation comprises field recordings, song, chant and poetry that I have recorded and developed in Milton Keynes over the past year. Local choirs, Buddhists, football fans, traffic, the dawn chorus, bats, insects, the wind and the rain are among the sounds of the city woven throughout my composition. I will present the work via a system of resonators across the large windows of the grade II listed shopping centre building and it will also be played periodically over the tannoy system - spreading the voices of the city throughout the entire shopping centre building.'
 
As well as combining the voice of nature with the voices of the people of Milton Keynes in song and chant, Devine invited performance poet Murray Lachlan Young to collaborate with her on a number of site-specific compositions. Lachlan Young has written six poems in response to the landscape of Milton Keynes that Devine has woven throughout the work. Lachlan Young has also provided the voice of poet, William Cowper - who lived locally in the eighteenth century and wrote extensively about the area. Devine has sonified a number of Cowper’s works and these together with the site-specific compositions explore Milton Keynes and its surroundings over a period spanning three centuries.
 
City of Things has featured on BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Radio 3, and BBC Three Counties Radio. The artwork has been well received by audiences with one visitor commenting: ‘Lovely to stand and listen to sounds, so beautifully put together. Amazing to hear the resonance in the windows. A marvellous experience.’. Others described the artwork as ‘thrilling’, ‘wonderful’, and said that they will listen ‘again and again’.
 
Devine’s site-specific sound installations provide playful and unexpected encounters with sound outside of a conventional gallery setting. She has twice been shortlisted for a BASCA British Composer Award for work based in Milton Keynes: in 2014 for On Air, a large scale outdoor sound installation for The Open University campus in Walton Hall; and in 2013 for 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun, an outdoor multi-channel sound installation in a dome structure formerly sited in Central Milton Keynes.
 
City Club is a programme of new art, performances, family activities, commissions, happenings, events and talks which enable thousands of people throughout Milton Keynes to explore, enjoy and be inspired by their surroundings. Led by MK Gallery and delivered in partnership with the city's arts and heritage organisations, the project takes its name from the unrealised national leisure complex proposed for the city by Milton Keynes Development Corporation in the 1970s.
 
City of Things is free of charge. The artwork will be installed outside John Lewis in the centre:mk. The nearest door is South 16. For further details visit www.cityofthings.co.uk and www.cityclubmk.org.
 

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