In the early 19th century the bourgeoisie was obsessed with 'panorama'. It acted as a kind of spectacle that gave the viewer a sense of control over and understanding of their environment.
We are still fascinated by the idea of The View: the recent Tate Britain exhibition Looking at the View is testimony to this. Even the suggestion of control and knowledge still persists: the website for The View from The Shard, for example, evokes a notion of understanding the past, present and future through the experience of looking from a particular vantage point. We frequently interpret a 'stunning view' as embodying deeper meaning: maybe a connection with the past, an appreciation of the present, a sense of insight or a notion of influence over the future.
A view, however, is mostly imagined without sound. Indeed many are framed by architectural structures and rendered silent through glass. Consequently the indoor is separated from the outdoor space creating two distinct sonic and atmospheric (temperature/humidity) environments which sensorially only relate to one another through the visual. Even when views are not silenced in such a way, we hear mostly only the present. A glimpse into the past is reserved for the visible realm in the form of old buildings or vegetation for example.
Looking out over the Thames from the vantage point of The Grand Saloon, Sounding the View mediates the real and imagined sounds within this view through the human voice. Playfully it contemplates the delicate relationships between looking and listening, between the outside and the inside, between the real and the imagined sounds and sights.
It was the process of developing the ideas for this work that led me to ask five London based artists to share a location in the city that is, for them, particularly meaningful both sonically and visually. To illustrate their choice each artist wrote a few words and drew a map of the location, so that you, if you wish, can go to these spots and share in their Sonic Viewing.