Sparrows Point Terminal event

November 24, 2014
Today, I had the privilege to attend and witness the closing of a period of Sparrows Point history with my colleague from CAC, Mary Manning, technical director.


Here is an image that gives the Sparrows Point star scale.

The men at the base of the star are SP steel workers, one on the left is Lester Foster, whose card he gave me lists him as a “minuteman” with the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was with the company for over 45 years. His friend on the right worked with him for a number of years. He was eager to tell me his story about the time he spent in the bowels of the simmering furnace.

A cake to celebrate changes in the Sparrows Point community.

The star in the photograph was located on the left side of the building in the Google map. As of 112414 no one knows where the icon will end up living. More information about the Sparrows Point backstory can be found here, Mill Stories produced by colleagues, Bill Shewbridge and Michelle Stefano. We worked together in collaboration with the Marc Steiner Show May 7, 2014 that resulted in five short radio programs that involved four classes supported by the BreakingGround initiative from UMBC.

Program from the event:

programCover programInsided

John Thomson, Scottish ethno-photographer reference

More will follow as I learn about the backstory for this particular photographic reference.   Yesterday I discovered this character in a small market place about 1 mile from the hotel.  The older sepia photograph is by John Thomson Irish, approximately 1870 and the color one is mine from yesterday.  This references early and contemporary peep shows.
JThomson-SBradleyJohn Thomson (14 June 1837 – 29 September 1921)was a pioneering Scottish photographergeographer and traveller. He was one of the first photographers to travel to the Far East, documenting the people, landscapes and artifacts of eastern cultures. Upon returning home, his work among the street people ofLondon cemented his reputation, and is regarded as a classic instance of social documentary which laid the foundations for photojournalism. He went on to become a portrait photographer of High Society in Mayfair, gaining the Royal Warrant in 1881. [Wikipedia reference] I rephotographed Thomson’s work through the Special Collections at UMBC, USA. 


Shanghai & Xiamen media resources

My friend, Saoirse Higgins turned me on to the following resources in Shanghai.
bazaar compatible:

Not here in China, but the UK is this resources;
Digital Media Labs

Last night, July 5 we visited MASSBOT, which is located about a mile and a half from our hotel. Pretty amazing place where the artists have hacked the location architecturally, culturally and psychically- carving out a unique creative space for expression.  Here are a couple of photographs from last night.

_DSC3487-massbox _DSC3503-massbox

This couple served us tea for almost 40 minutes non-stop.  We did not know one another’s language, but communicated through the ritual of tea drinking.  We did use an iPhone app for translation, to say good bye and to also thank for them for their generosity and warmth.


I don’t know much about how it works, but this is what I found on line. MASSBOT.

Arrival, adjusting, learning – first week

My arrival to Xiamen from Beijing was intense due to a thunder storm that we arrived into.  My connector flight from Beijing to Xiamen was delayed for well over 2 hours putting me in Xiamen around 2:30 AM Wed, July 2 — despite my rough arrival I was have had a mild case of jet lag.  The whole trip took a little over 24 hours from Baltimore BWI Airport.

_DSC3084-hotelwindowHere is a view of Xiamen from the hotel where I am staying at the moment.  Believe it or not, I am staying at a very nice place called the Armed Police Sanatorium – a place next to where police are trained for service.  The hotel rents out space when there are rooms available, which are reasonable.  Xiamen University is a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  Early this morning I did some field recordings just under the trees in the foreground of cicadas that I will post sounds from shortly along with some photographs of the beautifully sounding creatures. 

Thinking about place

Next week I will be arriving to Xiamen University, City and Gulangyu Island to begin a sound art workshop and a place based research project that will look to the resident memory in contrast to the authorized historical; i.e., beginning with the personal photo albums, cultural archives, and listening to the stories surrounding the artifacts. Listening (and looking) is much more interesting than talking.

In the map above, you can see that Xiamen City is surrounded by water, sprinkled with small ponds, lakes and canals. [NOTE: regarding the points on the Google Map.  Seems that the landsat imagery is more accurate than the drawn map so for purposes of accuracy, I turned on the satellite information instead of the road map. This is a bit frustrating, that these two versions are not accurate.]  Over the next two weeks I will map the sounds underwater and juxtapose them to sounds above, linking them  geographically to the built environment.   Most important are the relationships to the natural sounds to human noise.  What does noise tell us about a place?  Does this impact how we interact in a city street, a park, a neighborhood or in private space?

Most interesting to me are the smaller sounds that are often invisible or inaudible, or unnoticed.  Below the surface of the water and above around the same general area can often sound different, revealing unique physical characteristics. Below are two audio recording examples from above and below the surface of a body of water.

Above the ground located in a storm drain and pond located in Gainesville, Florida, USA.
Trumpet(s) by art-radio

Underwater in the Blue Lagoon, in south east of Reykjavik, Iceland

…more to hear and see.