The Barry Echo

The Barry Echo is a site-specific sound piece for the Pfänder Gondola in the Alpine-town of Bregenz, Austria, commissioned by the Bregenz Kunstverein, Magazine 4. The piece consists of 104 stories from the current editions of the Barry Gem and South Wales Echo, read in the café of Tesco in Barry by one of the artists to his blind mother. It was continually played through the PA system of the gondola as it made its passage up and down the mountain. The piece is loosely based on the book by the Austrian author Thomas Bernhard, entitled The Voice Imitator: 104 Short Stories. In this book the author writes 104 parable-type stories based on newspaper reports and hearsay. The Barry Echo both plays tribute to this work and at the same time side steps the weight of the original idea, allowing the stories to create their own parable-type status through their context of hearing the gondolas repetitive passage up and down the side of an Austrian mountain.

As part of the work two posters were also produced and displayed in the town of Bregenz.

433 Magazine 4, Bregenz Kunstverein, Austria, 2008

Transcript of an excerpt from the piece:

D: Garage destroyed. Fire destroyed a commercial garage after flames ripped through it. Firefighters were called to the site in Jelly Rd.

Mother: Gelly Rd.

D: Gelly Rd. Inesbo… Inesbull

Mother: Innisebull / ynys y bwl

D: At about 8pm yesterday. Fire-engines from Ponty-Preed and Abersynen… Pontypridd, dd is pronounced th. Abercynnan

Mother: Abercynnan (pronounced kunnan)

D: Abercynnan, attended along with specialist appliances from Aberdare and Whitchurch, Cardiff. A spokesperson for South Wales’ fire and rescue service said that nobody was believed to have been injured and the cause of the fire was unknown.

D: Kefn forest

Mother: Kefn forest, one f is a v.

D: Kevn.

Mother: Kefn

D: As in Kevin

Mother: you do not say Kevin, Kefn

D: Kefn, Keven the forest. The landlord managed to empty the cellar before engineers got the pump started.

D: Bilingual greeting ban is absurd. Public calls to a south Wales council are no longer being answered with a bilingual greeting for fear staff will strain their voices. Call centre workers at the Vale of Glamorgan Council are obliged to greet callers in Welsh and in English but instead spurn the rules to spare their vocal cords.

Mother: Which are they banning the English or the Welsh

D: I imagine the Welsh.

The aim is to limit speaking time for staff recommended by the Health and Safety executive for good call centre working practices.

D: Wales’ first solar panelled church is to be blessed by the Archbishop of Wales next week. Saint Joseph’s church in… oh dear, Cum Wamam, Cum Mamam, Cum Aman - C - W - M

Mother: Cwm

D: Aman

Mother: A - M - A - M

D: Cwmamam…

Mother: Cymamam Sounds alright

D: … Cymamamadare was fitted with 30 solar panels as part of a 750’000 pound grant funded refurbishment programme.

To listen to the work please go to:

A version of the piece also features in Cathy Lane edited Playing with Words (CRiSAP, RGAP, UK, 2008)

and on the accompanying Gruenrekorder CD compilation