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Active Crossover II, Grey Area Gallery, Brighton, UK - photo by Andrew Whiteside


Comments from hosts of the exhibitions

Simon Whetham spent about 12 months undertaking a residency at the MillSpace art studio deep within the heart of Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. During this time, Simon opened our eyes to using sounds as a way of looking at things from a totally new perspective. Visitors, staff and the MillSpace steering group were totally blow away with Simon's work. The opening event at which Simon arranged for several sound artists to perform at the mill was a truly magical event and attracted many new visitors to the mill.
Simon's work is magical and the way in which he uses his art to ‘see things' is an inspiration.

Nina Baptiste
Project Coordinator, Armley Millspace

Active Crossover at Wolstenholme Creative Space used the gallery's crumbling grandeur to full effect; creating a dark, eerie yet peaceful atmosphere of sonic landscapes. A great example of sound art and an interesting lesson in field recording too!
Priya Sharma
Director, Wolstenholme Creative Space

Simon Whetham's solo exhibition Active Crossover was exhibited in the Bracknell Gallery, South Hill Park, 5 February – 3 April 2011.
Active Crossover challenges many common ideas about sound and its capabilities. The piece traces the artist's journey and encounters in Eastern Europe and the UK. It works like a travel journal or an audio photo album, encouraging one's imagination to consider sound in relation to the conditions of the work's creation. Simon and his collaborators allow openness in interpretation. The piece invites the visitor to return: every visit to the piece encourages new findings, emotions and interpretations, allowing Active Crossover to develop a non-stable experience.
It has been pleasure to work with Simon: he is organised, helpful and motivated. Simon was actively taking part in the installation of this technically complex speaker piece with two darkened, acoustically treated chambers. Simon's technical skills were crucial. Having worked on many exhibitions in the past, Simon's organisational approach to the project was particularly impressive.

Dr Outi Remes
Head of Exhibitions, South Hill Park Arts Centre

Simon Whetham's hard work delivered an installation that reflected ideas of dialogue and travel through its intriguing three-part construction.
It was pleasing to see the space used for purely sonic work, and it was greatly enlivened by two performance events that brought diverse international sound practitioners together in an exchange of ideas and approaches, and workshops which engaged people from the locality in the sonic arts.

Tom Trevor
Director, Arnolfini, Bristol

Active crossover was a successful installation/performance based work that made full use of Arnolfini's dark studio, and a labour of love on the part of Simon Whetham. He approached the project with care and delivered a meaningful experience that reflected social, as much as sonic, processes.
Alastair Cameron
Sound, Music and Cinema Programming, Arnolfini, Bristol

Grey Area was very pleased to host Simon Whetham's Active Crossover in February 2010. The primary reason for the show's success was the way in which the artist responded to the physical particularity of the gallery with an installation that layered different spatial interpretations through sound. The gallery is an idiosyncratic basement space with fluctuating ceiling heights and three interconnected rooms. Simon worked with these natural chambers to create three separate but relational spaces with distinct sonic environments. The ways in which the recordings bled between, merged, and then cleaved apart physical and psychological spaces, served to alter the experience of each chamber and the ways in which the three rooms were rendered as a unified exhibition. Active Crossover's combination of field recordings from past artist residencies and the gallery's own surrounding environment, created a curious and at times uncanny sonic landscape that was constantly in flux, existing as it did somewhere between a familiarity of location and a spatial displacement.
Daniel Pryde-Jarman
Curator, Grey Area Gallery, Brighton

Comments from the ‘Active Crossover' comment book

‘I think it's fantastic. Really really into it. Taken me deep.'

‘I like the surround sound. Was trying to guess which locations you were in. Very relaxing.'

‘Almost heart-achingly brilliant. Went from calm to so uneasy. Made me feel (like) sinking. I felt queasy yet a little fulfilled.
Like finding life forms.
Thank you.

‘it reminds me of the bit of time just before falling asleep when random memories + bits of thought + recollection seem to occur in an un-logical order + pattern. It illustrates well, the every-day occurrence of, having ones eyes closed; something I had forgotten to give any attention and thought to.'

‘control and depersonalisation – a flotation tank – an aural one – spotlights define a point and demerge the others.
Is it threat?
An exquisitely disconcerting experience – what's where?
Ursula Bielmann took me to the global – this took me to an intrapersonal space, the juxtaposition was one to force me into a re-evaluative space.
And – one which might have provoked me to a pseudery!'

‘...I spent 2 hours of my life inside the chamber room in the Grey Area Gallery listening 'deeply' and 'actively' your 'art'. I really felt the 'soundscape' of the place you've 'lived' for a while. During the 'listening' I imagined the spaces you have passed, the environment all around and the architecture surroundings. I felt a kind of 'juxtaposition' of sound environments, never obvious or 'hard to listen to'. I was so engaged with your 'soundscapes' and I think the project has strong power of imagination. I felt the sound of specific materials but also 'the air' of the environment. I was really involved. It was strange because I started to think about the 'matter' of that place and now I can remember perfectly the sounds that I heard from your 'piece'. To me, It was a 'real'/'surreal' experience at the same time. I like it, I like 'contrasts' in the art process and I like the hardness and a kind of 'dryness' in sound stuff.. I like also the silence between different sounds and in that I can heard the 'real' sound of the gallery space and I realize that I'm in Brighton...  but at the end I started to think about also the sounds that I heard when I was a child, try to remember it. It was really strange but my mind go there.. I don't know why…'

'Different, but interesting'

'I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the sound, led me to deep contemplation. Several of the sounds reminded me of places i've been in my life! Very unusual. It would be more engaging if the lights changed colour with each change of of sound, or if there were images of the different elements blending and merging together on a screen.'

'Nice sound and arrangement of spaces...'


'I want one!'

'I really loved your work, i found it very interesting, and very much like i want to think. I am an artist that does the same sort of installations, very much like this piece, based in a light box.'

'Interesting idea - however difficulty ensuring the artist's message which has meaningful context can be received by the random listener. Bravo for making us think!'

'I'd be interested to know more about the recording techniques and mic's used - hydrophones? Binaural? And were the sounds processed much? (the idea of) travelling without moving. Sitting in the middle space acts as a sort of DJ set for the future. Thanks - I'm glad I came.'

'Lovely, thank you for giving me an escape from work. Really ethereal and engaging.'

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