DAN SHIPSIDES - Banshee
Microphone, amp, photocopy and paperback novel
A live sound and text piece developed for the exhibition Reverend Tod’s Full House, Grassy Knoll Productions at College Green in Belfast. The title of the piece is taken from the description in the text of the sound of water cascading through a gorge.
The water system in the building is amplified by microphone and speaker system so that when the toilet is flushed or taps are turned on the sound is amplified loudly throughout the building. The sound ebbs and flows due to the nature of the antiquainted water system changing from a full flushing torrent to a very subtle and acoustic drip.
The work amplifies a domestic sound so as to create a sound track to a passage from Alistair MacLean’s Force 10 from Naverone adventure thriller novel - a toilet seated read if there ever was one. The passage of text taken describes a heroic act by the hero Andrea as he saves the girl from the deluge of the breaking dam. The text below is presented as an A0 poster in the landing space outside the bathroom and the novel is present by the toilet and open at the following passage...
The impact of the waters drove the breath from his gasping body. Buried in this great falling crushing wall of green, Andrea fought for his life and that of the girl. The strain upon him, battered and bruising badly from the hammer-blows of this hurling cascade of water which seemed so venomously bent upon his instant destruction, was, even without the cruel handicap of his badly injured arm, quite fantastic. His arms, it felt, were momentarily about to be torn from their sockets, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to unclasp his hands and let kindly oblivion take the place of the agony that seemed to be tearing limbs and muscles asunder. But Andrea did not let go and Andrea did not break. Other things broke. Several of the ladder supports were torn away from the wall and it seemed that both the ladder and climbers must be inevitably swept away. The ladder twisted, buckled and leaned far out from the wall so that Andrea was now as much lying beneath the ladder as hanging on to it: but still Andrea did not let go, still some remaining supports held. Then very gradually, after what seemed to the dazed Andrea an interminable period of time, the dam level dropped, the force of the water weakened, not so much but just perceptibly, and Andrea started to climb again. Half a dozen times, as he changed hands on the rungs, his grip loosened and he was almost torn away: half a dozen times his teeth bared in the agony of effort, the great hands clamped tight and he impossibly retained his grip. After almost a minute of this titanic struggle he finally won clear of the worst of the waters and could breathe again. He looked at the girl in his arms. The blonde hair was plastered over her ashen cheeks, the incongruously dark eyelashes closed. The ravine seemed almost full to the top of its precipitously-sided walls with this whitely boiling torrent of water sweeping everything before it, its roar, as it thundered down the gorge with a speed faster than that of an express train, a continuous series of explosions, an insane and banshee shrieking of sound.
Force 10 from NAVARONE. Alistair MacLean. pg. 215. Fontana Books 1970. First published September 1968. Printed in Great Britain. Collins Clear-Type Press London and Glasgow.
The work places the context of the domestic environment against the heroic scenes or places as described and encountered through literature, film or other cultural forms of fiction.
Reverend Tods Full House Grassy Knoll, Belfast. 1998