The Storm Cone

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Laura Daly’s The Storm Cone is a new immersive AR (Augmented Reality) app that unearths lost bandstands and their buried past.

This site-specific spatial sound installation traces lost bandstands in England, using geo-locative and immersive technologies. It’s commissioned by Metal for NetPark, the world’s first digital park, and the University of Salford in Manchester for Peel Park and can be experienced in both locations.

The Storm Cone by Laura Daly is an immersive artwork that considers our intrinsic relationship with the past. At its centre is a journey through music and sound that charts the fading away of a brass band during the interwar years (1918 – 1939). Using new technologies to trace lost bandstands in their final days of mass popularity, we first encounter the band performing as a full ensemble, in 360˚audio. Breath-taking detail can be heard from every instrument as you move amongst the absent musicians; proximity altering the perception of sounds as Pankhurst’s score builds and then returns to a single note. From the powerful, collective sound of the band, the journey then follows the departed musicians into eight spatial sound works by Daly, where their fragile solo phrases merge and mutate in new environments. History, fiction, artifice and reality combine within this sensory encounter to confront the present with its past.

This absorbing work takes its name from the title of Rudyard Kipling’s 1932 poem that forewarned of WWII. It considers key aspects of the interwar period and the ensuing break-up and reshaping of communities in different parts of the country. Brass bands, with their strong industrial, religious and militaristic associations, lost many musicians to both World Wars, and the intervening years of shellshock, unemployment, economic migrancy, and industrial action. Their survival and the survival of brass music tells a story of working-class life during this epoch of deindustrialisation. Life, music and creative legacy all being sustained by breath. As the band’s sound lingers in an absent-minded hum or whistle, it becomes both an imprint and portal to these past times.

The Storm Cone commemorates the legacy of creativity, music and sound, the power of community and the importance of collective memory, history and storytelling. It highlights the emotive nature of the past and how it can also help foresee possible futures. Serving as warning shot, The Storm Cone contemplates the residual impact of the interwar period and the cyclical nature of history in terms of current events, including the economic downturn and the rise of populism, extremism, racism and antisemitism; problems seemingly exacerbated by the current pandemic. The resulting experience is an artwork that underlines human strength and fragility and is imbued with a sense of both loss and celebration.

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Laura Daly: The Storm Cone from University Of Salford on Vimeo.

THE STORM CONE invokes places, people & historical situations in a fictional narrative that charts the devastation of a brass band during inter-war & wartime events. In the lost bandstands, a newly commissioned brass piece by Lucy Pankhurst (performed by Salford University music students) charts the departure of its bandsmen in a thinning ensemble of disappearing instruments (reminiscent of Haydn’s ‘Farewell’ Symphony); different areas of instrumentation & sounds are revealed as individuals walk amongst the absent musicians. In its vicinity, eight interrelated spatial sound works by Laura Daly follow the consequences of the musician’s departure. Informed by interviews, soundscapes & sound archives, they’ll also feature notes & melodies from the brass performance, creating a discursive, unified sound installation. Examining a break-up & reshaping of community, THE STORM CONE references conflict, refugees, female emancipation & the Great Depression, using sounds of the past to augment reality & reflect on current affairs.

Find out more about the project on The Storm Cone website here.

Laura Daly is a multi-award winning artist (The Engine Room International Sound Art Competition and The New Contemporaries). She has multiple residencies and commissions to her name and has exhibited widely in group and solo shows.
Her projects are rooted in research, and explore the site in terms of the concealed, implied, absent and remote. She uses a variety of media including video, drawings, photography, mapping and sound in site-specific and site-related projects that range significantly in scale. Giving presence to absence, she considers the way in which notions of place and ‘absent place’ can be an embodiment of identity and how this can be used in terms of ideology, romanticism, marginalisation and subversion.
Audience interaction is an integral aspect in the development and realisation of her works which often manifest in a physical dualism and play with the viewer/listener’s sense of location. Her current area of focus is the tension between idealised place and embedded (hi)stories. THE STORM CONE is her most ambitious project to date.

Previous commissions include The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, Comma Press and ArtSway. Exhibitions include The Eagle Gallery London, La Tallera Gallery, Mexico, Surface Gallery, Nottingham, ASC Gallery London, Morley Gallery, London, ArtSway, the New Forest, Mappin Gallery, Sheffield, Hochschule fur Gestaltung und Kunst, Zurich, Peterborough Museum of Art, The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, Cubitt Gallery, London, Manchester Central Library and The Orchard Gallery, Derry.

Lucy Pankhurst is a composer based in the northwest of England. She is a performance (tenor horn, 2004) and composition (2007) graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music. In 2020 she was also awarded a PhD from the RNCM/MMU for her work focussing on contemporary applications of the traditional brass band (supervisors Professor Adam Gorb and Dr Larry Goves).