Apr 15, 2005


written by greyworld

Trace is a permanent sound installation for the historic maze at Hampton Court Palace. As visitors pass through the maze they trigger a series of sounds that capture the intrigue and mystery of the maze’s rich heritage.

The installation encourages visitors to navigate their way around the maze using sound, until they come across the centre where they discover two benches and a compass.

As visitors passed through the many green corridors of the maze, they are tempted to follow the tantalising sound of delicate laughter that disappears around a corner. Only to find as they turn the corner that they are drawn towards a dead end, where they can overhear the fragments of an illicit conversation happening in the near distance.

As they continued on their journey through the maze they encounter other conversations and sounds the gentle call of a songbird in the distance, the seductive rustle of fine silks, or the sound of more serious court business. Slowly the sounds weave together in the visitors’ mind to create a rich tapestry of the other people who have passed through the maze over the centuries and lost themselves in the seductive privacy of its secluded corners. Which ones are real, and which are imagined?

When they finally reach the centre they come across a compass. As they approach it, its dial spins quickly until it rests on a particular location and plays the sound found in the maze at that moment – the rustling of a silk dress or perhaps the animated conversation of two people who are lost. The compass then takes the sound that is captured at that moment, locally, and feeds it back into the soundscape, so the present experiences of the maze are woven together with past sounds.

The benches are also sensitized and like the compass they capture the present conversations of visitors resting and combine them with past, generated, sounds to create a rich tapestry of experience.

There’s a good article about the installation from the Guardian that can be found here

The whole process of creating the sound work was documented by the BBC as part of their “Tales from the Palaces’ series, which was broadcast on BBC 2 in March 2006.