Ear Canal

Pictured: Participant Christy McEvoy and Sven Anderson recording the barge in motion

Ear Canal is a soundwork inspired by The Royal Canal produced by NCBI service users in collaboration with artists Sven Anderson and Siobhán Clancy.  This project featured in the exhibition Escape into Sound in 2009 and Phizzfest 2010.
Ear Canal was supported by The Art’s Council’s Artist in the Community Scheme and managed by Create, The National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts.



Field Recording on Royal Canal Video

About Canal Locks Video

Audio segment from Ear Canal Video

Photo Slideshow from Ear Canal Field Recording Trip

Screen reader friendly press releases featuring information on Ear Canal can be downloaded from Press Release_Escape into Sound and Press Release_Journeys and Ear Canal


Description of the Project Process

The initial stages of artistic exploration took us from the workshop to creative spaces beyond the four walls of the NCBI Iona Centre.  Amongst other places, we visited the white-walled galleries of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, a collection of sound art installations at Blanchardstown Arts Centre, the echoing memorials of Glasnevin cemetery and the natural tranquility of the sculpture gardens at the Delta Sensory Centre in Carlow.  The impact of creativity in these natural and constructed spaces made us realise how we as artmakers can shape our environments and thus positively influence the experience and awareness of the general public.

This research inspired us to focus our exploration on the environment local to the NCBI HQ; the Royal Canal. Participants of the project are all from the North Circular Road area and Blanchardstown and attend training and recreational courses at NCBI opposite the Royal Canal in Drumcondra.  They live and train in close proximity to the canal, yet due to mobility or time restrictions, do not often get the opportunity to  interact with the waterway. A two day barge trip in glorious July sunshine gave us the opportunity to experience at first hand this rich natural resource.

Artist Sven Anderson joined us to co-facilitate high quality recording of the experience; the barge moving on water, cascades at the canal lock gates, the operation of the barge and lock mechanisms as well as the natural elements surrounding the canal banks. The process redefined our relationship to this natural, accessible civic amenity. “

I like the sensation of being on the water.”

“I greatly enjoyed opening the sluice gates and hearing the rush of water flowing through it.”

Through the experience of crewing a barge, the group highlighted their abilities and collective strengths.

Anyone can go on a barge.”

“Everyone has to do something to make the whole boat work.”

“I thought I was going to be nervous on the barge and then I realized it is a very, very safe place to be.” 

It also highlighted a shared concern in ecologically sustainable forms of travel and awareness around pedestrian-friendly methods of urban commute, an issue of particular relevance to the vision-impaired in the city environment.

“Its fantastic to see Dublin from a different perspective and at a pace where you can actually see it all.”

“You don’t realize that you have far to go to get away from the concrete jungle.”

On our return, Sven facilitated a workshop in which the group mixed different excerpts from these recordings and moved them within a four-speaker array set up in our project space at the Iona Centre.  The group discussed different techniques of soundscape composition, and worked on developing concepts concerning how these sounds could be used in a gallery-based exhibition, or in a soundwalk scenario.  Later, Sven programmed a script that enabled the edits to be played at random, at points overlapping to create a highly evocative and immersive aural experience in a darkened space as part of the exhibition Escape into Sound.

A year later, a mix down from this programme was presented on an actual barge on the Royal Canal as part of Phizzfest.