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'The Singing Rocks' - Artist Jenna Burchell turns ancient rocks into songsmiths.
Posted on June 23, 2016.

Songsmith installation at Nirox Sculpture Park, Cradle of Humankind.

South African artist Jenna Burchell's installation Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) combines "golden joinery" with technology and sound, creating site-specific sound instruments (songsmiths).

Burchell repairs ancient, fractured rocks found in the Cradle of Humankind, a 50 000 hectare span of ancient, fossil-rich land in South Africa, using Kintsukuroi, a Japanese art and philosophy of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer. She combines this golden rock repair with recorded sound, producing rocks that will sing of the land wherein they have existed for millennia.

Burchell is an anti-disciplinary artist who weaves various forms of technology, science, anthropology, sound, and art into a practice that crosses between the domains of matter and experience. Her work often takes on the form of responsive sculptures and large-scale installations, likened to empathy machines or memory harps.

Each songsmith's song was captured with electro-magnetic readings from beneath each rock's unique and original resting place. Their songs were created through the use of site-specific Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) data that she captured with geophysicists. The unedited GPR frequency pattern was brought intuitively into an audible pitch based on the weight of each rock resulting in a haunting 'wale song' that becomes the unique voice of each songsmith.

Burchell is currently working towards creating songsmiths around the world as small but beautiful reminders for people to re-connect to each other and to the world around them by activating the exquisite cracks that narrate the beauty of life lived.

Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) will be on exhibition at Nirox Sculpture Park until 31 July 2016. Open to the public on weekends.

Kintsukuroi detail of Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind).

Kintsukuroi detail of Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind).

Research map and notes used by Burchell during her residency at the Nirox Foundation, Cradle of Humankind.

Geophysicists from Open Ground capturing GPR data at Songsmith rock site. This GPR was the source of sound in the Cradle of Humankind Songsmiths.

Visitors at the Winter Sculpture Fair experience Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind).

Visitors at the Winter Sculpture Fair experience Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind).

Burchell is represented by Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery

More about Jenna Burchell's projects:

More on Burchell's UK Series, Songsmith (Bangor City):

Follow her work on Facebook and Instagram

Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) was created with specialised assistance from: Open Ground (Geophysicists), Morné Vander (Sound Engineering), To The South (Carpentry and plinth), Daniel De Kock (Programming). With thanks to Nirox Sculpture Park, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and managing gallery Sulger-Buel Lovell.

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