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Project

Lauren Gault

‘Méduse’

Online

July – December 2020

‘Méduse’ (2020) explores geological time, myth and geographical space with reference to the Fossil Grove, an ancient petrified forest preserved in Glasgow’s Victoria Park.

Weaving together experimental sound and spoken journey, ‘Méduse’ witnesses these trees’ slow evolution from the swampy tropical forests of the Carboniferous period to their present geographical position and material form. Through sibilant sounds and hissing clay, the imperceptible activity and micromovements of dissolution and decay is made apparent. ‘Méduse’ observes natural cycles of reformation and reanimation across millions of years as the trees collapse, hollow out and are compacted into the earth to remain petrified underground as the land slowly drifts north, away from the equator, taking in a world history as they go.

Eleven fossilised stumps of extinct lycopod trees were discovered during the expansion of Victoria Park in 1887, preserved in the place where they grew 325 million years ago; forms orphaned from their own time to become concurrent with ours. Carboniferous trees are better known in the present for their use-value as fossil fuels, but the material shapeshifting performed by the trees of Fossil Grove has allowed them to gain the status of protected objects to be maintained in a covered enclosure within the park.

The dormant, apparently lifeless state of the Fossil Grove tree stumps is reconsidered through the articulation of deep geological timescales as the petrified trees are reanimated as slow actors in the present time – a reminder that the past exists concurrently with the present and that stasis can be a source of agency and protection.

Gault narrates an associative and visceral journey that roams in multiple directions delving into facets of time and connecting places and ideas like root systems underground. From the digestive systems of mammals, to a petrified wood gas station in Colorado, Gault’s rhythmical musings construct phantom shapes from what is less visible, creating a new world myth of petrification.

'Méduse' features field recordings of the environment around Fossil Grove, amongst an abundance of aural images, watery noises and warped vocals as well as the harmonious sound of 'ringing rocks’; stones that resonate at different frequencies when struck, thought to have be used as prehistoric instruments.

This work can be listened to at home but we recommend listening outdoors with headphones.

Fossil Grove and Victoria Park
51 Victoria Park Drive South
Glasgow G14 9QR

With thanks to Victoria Park and Fossil Grove, Richy Carey, Hayley Gault and Joe Morton.

Sound Editing by Richy Carey.
Mastering by Stephan Mathieu /
Schwebung Mastering.
Design: Maeve Redmond.

Part of 'In the open'