Twice a year, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path as seen from the Earth seems to stop before reversing direction. Sol (Sun). Sistere (to stand still). Solstice. In the northern hemisphere, midsummer and midwinter. Cultures throughout the world celebrate these moments, or the days which contain them, or have other proximal festivals of great significance. Naturally, in As Above So Below, we wished to mark these relationships between the heavens and Earth - all the more so as in 2016 the summer Solstice was also a full moon.
John Bowers and Tim Shaw facilitated a musical ritual at Allenheads Contemporary Arts called A Midsummer Night’s Drone and invited contributions from around the world. From sunset on the night before the Solstice until dawn, we droned our instruments with pitches derived from the movements of the Sun, Earth and Moon. The Earth orbits the Sun in a year. A year is (shifted up around 30 octaves) a slightly flat C sharp. The Earth’s rotation on its own axis, a day, is a flat G. The ‘synodic month’ is a G sharp, more or less.
In the playground at The Old School House, we assembled facing the point of the Sun’s disappearance below the horizon at 21.51. The night was warm with occasional rain and blustering wind. It was overcast throughout so, sadly, we could not follow the Sun’s comings and goings precisely by sight. We greeted the Sun’s return at 04.31.
Malcolm Conchie joined us on site with his modular synthesizer. Contributions were received from Terry Burrows (London), Jon Gatiss (Norwich) and Jon Connell (New York). Sanne Verbaan knitted throughout the night. As Above So Below artists visited us and wished us well.