In Foot Tunnel Driftsong I utilized an internal, outside place, the foot tunnel under the Thames River between Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs.


Artist and research colleague Birgitta Hosea stood at the north end of the tunnel holding a video camera, while I began walking from the southern end sounding and using my Dulcimer as a pitch gauge. I sang in a repeated tonal pattern and attempted to keep at the same volume while I moved through the tunnel. The tunnel has a number of bends, dips and rises, so that sound waves not only flow in a spiral around and through the ceramic lined tube, but also muddle together as they bounce back and forth and up and down colliding with each other. The resonance, echo and ambient drone from other people speaking, the lift mechanics and the air draft, makes my voice for a few minutes before it rises clear from other sounds. Then the volume remains constant as though I am not moving either towards or away until I was within a few feet of the camera, my volume suddenly increases and just as quickly, fades as I move away.


This work clearly evidences how sound drawing is affected by place, and the vocal sound drawn through this space; describes the spatial dimensional, and material aspects of the cylindrical tunnel in resonance, while at the same time being manipulated, changed, and distorted by the space. In terms of the atmosphere, as in how a sense of place is affected by sound. The documentation of this work also shows that the stream of echoes and drones are very much an integral aspect of the character and feeling of this foot tunnel.


The Thames foot tunnel is 396 meters long, 11 meters wide, 6 meters high and 23 meters below the rivers surface. The foot tunnel was built between 1825 and 1843 by Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thames_Tunnel (accessed 23 May 2009)