Artist turns ancient rocks into songsmiths


jenna burchell songsmithSouth African artist Jenna Burchell’s installation Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) is surprising audiences everywhere. Taking ancient, fractured rocks found in the Cradle of Humankind – a 50 000 hectare span of ancient, fossil-rich land in South Africa – Burchell uses Kintsukuroi, a Japanese art and philosophy of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer. By combining this golden repair with technology and recorded sound, a songsmith will resonate when touched. This allows each rock to sing of the land wherein it has existed for millennium.

Each songsmith’s song was captured with electro-magnetic readings from beneath each rock’s original resting place. Their songs were created through the use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) data that she captured with geophysicists. The unedited GPR frequency pattern was brought into an audible pitch based on the weight of each rock resulting in a haunting ‘wale song’ that becomes the unique voice of each songsmith.

Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) is a continued exploration of Burchell’s on-going international project, Songsmith, consisting of site-specific sound instruments embedded into cracks, fractures and gaps found in places and objects chosen for their age long histories and rich narratives. Her goal is to create songsmiths which are small but beautiful reminders for people to re-connect to each other and to the world around them by activating the cracks that relate to  the beauty of a life well lived.

Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) is on exhibition at Nirox Sculpture Park until 31 July 2016 and is open to the public on weekends.

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