Spectre and Spectator

site-specific sound art in collaboration with Catalyst Arts, Belfast

field recorder, mini controller, laptop, audio PA, an exhibition space and a spectator, 2018

‘Spectre and Spectator’ is an sound art project which explores the idea of memory, hauntology, and the spectacle in relation to gallery space through the practice of field recording. The approach of the work is influenced by my ongoing research on object-oriented ontology and speculative realism.

In terms of the background of the work, this project is inspired by the ephemeral nature of Catalyst Arts since I joined the gallery committee. The gallery lives in a constant state of flux; it is run by a continuously rolling board who last for two years maximum during their directorship before being replaced by the next new board. I am fascinated by the fact that not one person witness the gallery’s exhibition history or accumulated happenings. There is a realisation of outliving the hauntological experience as an essential part of the directorship - a life of constant discussion and imagination of a past that feels inaccessible, or may not have ever happened, in order to make sense of the present and construct the future. The space beholds a fuller account of the running history of the gallery with an objective perspective, as opposed to the narratives of the gallery contributed by each individual’s memory and subjective beliefs. This project explores this dichotomy and show the relationship between the former and the latter, referring them as the spectre and spectators.


You are invited to play with us.
We are the spectres of this space.
The spectres are captured in found sounds. We are temporal events and experiences which were once alive in this space under different themes, identities and ideologies following different exhibitions.
You are free to use the mini controller to change these sounds according to your preference, based your own interpretation of us in relation to the space.


Work in progress images by author

I first recorded moments behind an exhibition display - during installing and de-installing shows at Catalyst Arts’ space. This forms the first CD of original found sounds. The use of field recording practice captured and revealed the objective dimension of the sonic environment. These past sound collected were then played back through speakers in the same exhibition space with an effects preset I created. A current Catalyst Art director, the spectator, was invited to use the effects preset to interpret and mix the sound samples, creating and performing their new sound narratives in real-time. The subjective interpretation of the past, a site-specific performance, was immediately recorded again for the next iteration. These are shown in the second and third CD, and further to come in the future. The same pattern follows up to a point where no one knows or remembers what the original sounds like. The spectre builds up with the spectators’ input.

Special thanks to Liam McCartan and Digital Arts Studios Belfast.