PMC at Station X, it’s an enigma

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Station X

PMC loudspeakers will be featured in a new multi-sensory exhibition being held during May at MK Gallery Project Space in Milton Keynes.  The ‘Station X’ exhibition offers an insight into the now derelict buildings of Bletchley Park, otherwise known as Station X, the home of the code breakers who famously cracked the Enigma codes during World War II. 

The exhibition, a collaboration between installation artist Maya Ramsay, photographer Rachael Marshall, film maker Luke Williams and sound artist Caroline Devine, uses PMC’s on-wall wafer2 speakers and compact DS001 amplifiers to fill the space with an aural history of what is arguably one of Britain’s most important historical sites. 

Caroline and the other artists spent many months capturing the ambience and importance of the abandoned buildings, which are in a dangerous state of repair, in order to preserve visual and aural histories before they are lost as a result of planned renovation works. 

The sound installation comprises recordings of the sounds made in and by the buildings, such as a creaking door at the end of a corridor or the fluttering of the wings of one of the many resident pigeons. The distant rumble of a train or a passing overhead aeroplane provided rhythms and resonances with which Caroline could work to build up soundtracks using electronically manipulated recordings of the natural sounds together with “hidden” electromagnetic signals from the electrical circuits and equipment present around the crumbling buildings.

Having experienced PMC loudspeakers at Sound Fjord, another prominent sound installation, and Rough Trade Records, Caroline contacted the company to enquire about borrowing a set of speakers for this exhibition. Enthusiastically offering support to such an important project, which is also local to PMC’s Luton offices, Ian Downs, general manager, suggested a pair of the wafer™ speakers as they are also available with printable grilles which might be useful in an exhibition environment. 

Photographer Rachael Marshall was delighted to be able to print two of the images she captured at Station X on to the speakers, and so as well as reproducing the sounds made by the feathered inhabitants of the buildings, the grilles will feature photographs of them.

Caroline, commenting on her choice of speakers for this project, said: “It is important that there is no weakness in the chain of audio reproduction when I am working with such delicate sounds. It is the detail, clarity and fantastic range of the PMC wafer2s that make them perfect for this task. And added to that, the fact that the grilles can be printed on means they are ideally suited to our exhibition which combines sound and image to capture the history of this landmark building.” She added, “Putting sound into a gallery presents certain challenges as these spaces are not configured for acoustics and tend to colour and reflect the sound. Diffusion needs, therefore, to be of as high a quality as possible in order to work with these spaces and PMC Wafers2s provide me with the perfect solution.”

Bletchley Park was home to thousands of people who worked in secret during World War II and were subsequently sworn to secrecy for 30 years. The Station X exhibition explores the environment in which these people worked after two and half decades of neglect.  It runs from 4 – 27 May at MK Gallery Project Space, 900 Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3QA.  MK Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 12–8pm, Saturdays 11am–8pm, and Sundays 11am–5pm.  Admission is free