This year-long project explores my fascination with a hill called Thorpe Cloud in the southern Peak District. Thorpe Cloud is a reef knoll, formed from the remains of sedimentary sea creatures millions of years ago. Its almost perfect conical form was once a sea reef that has been pushed up to just under 1000 feet over millions of years. It now sits silent and unflinching to the extremes of weather and tourist alike. It has three almost flat sides that are different microclimates: one greets the weak morning sun, another bakes in the afternoon heat and the third sees almost no sun at all.
My aim is to give a voice to this wild place. What would we discover about it if we allowed it to express a more abstract view of time and space? This hill has no interest in human measures of time as it moves in aeons not days, over a breath of time that is imperceptible to us.
With this goal, I am collecting data once a month in 2022, collating the information and morphing it into new states of representation, be that colours, sound or otherwise. My real interest is how many hidden facets of seasonal change I might unearth which will enrich our appreciation of the wild places we usually take for granted.
Roaming the cone
I’m walking a standard monthly route around the hill and ascending each of the three sides to the summit. As I do this I’m collecting timed photographs of the vegetation under my feet. The overlaid Strava traces of my routes are already revealing their own beauty. Each side of the hill is revealing its own microclimate that the seasons are impacting in strikingly different ways. I’m getting to know this hill from a different perspective, I know every quiet nook, exposed cliff and shady corner; and I’ve gained an appreciation of the huge mass of rock hidden from view. Like a human body, we build our mental picture of an object from its thin outer shell but the true essence is the mass hidden from view.
Seasonal colour palette
Each monthly set of photographs is merged and we see a colour consolidation of each month below. With little data processing we are already seeing fascinating colour changes emerging; from the cool, blue colours of January, through the vibrant shades of June to the scorched palette of August and September, and finally the cool colours of November and December. There are many more colour avenues to explore once all months have been accumulated.
I have a real fascination with abstracting data between different modes. To create a sound language from colours gathered from the hill would be challenging but quite innovative. Tone.js is a jQuery audio framework for creating sounds and music that I aim to experiment with. The first step is to define an algorithm to define how colours will be conveyed as sound, which will involve defining limits, and then experimenting with volume, pitch and effects. The samples in the clip below show a wide variety of options.
My aim is to present this project in a public space and allow an audience to immerse themselves in a living, breathing piece of our landscape. Months compressed into seconds and presented as a colourful, musical experience will trigger a mind-bending appreciation of the land under our feet. If I achieve that, hours of walking will have been well worth it.