MK Gallery

City of Things

City of Things
City of Things Friday 6 October – Sunday 5 November / 10:00am – 8:00pm

Midsummer Arcade, centre:mk (door South 16)

City of Things - a large-scale sound installation by composer and sound artist Caroline Devine - will be presented in the centre:mk from 6 October until 5 November. Running daily from 10am to 8pm, this ambitious new artwork celebrates the sounds of the unique city of Milton Keynes in its 50th anniversary year. 

Led by Bletchley Park working in partnership with the Open University and MK Gallery, this commission forms an integral part of City Club. 

Describing the piece, Devine states: 'City of Things focuses on the voices, sounds and signals of Milton Keynes - exploring the city through the ears, rather than the eyes. The sound installation comprises field recordings, song, chant and poetry that I have recorded and developed in Milton Keynes over the past year. Local choirs, Buddhists, football fans, traffic, the dawn chorus, bats, insects, the wind and the rain are among the sounds of the city woven throughout my composition. I will present the work via a system of resonators across the large windows of the grade II listed shopping centre building and it will also be played periodically over the tannoy system - spreading the voices of the city throughout the entire shopping centre building.' 


As well as combining the voice of nature with the voices of the people of Milton Keynes in song and chant, Devine invited performance poet Murray Lachlan Young to collaborate with her on a number of site-specific compositions. Lachlan Young has written six poems in response to the landscape of Milton Keynes that Devine has woven throughout the work. Lachlan Young has also provided the voice of poet, William Cowper - who lived locally in the eighteenth century and wrote extensively about the area. Devine has sonified a number of Cowper’s works and these together with the site-specific compositions explore Milton Keynes and its surroundings over a period spanning three centuries.

Devine’s site-specific sound installations provide playful and unexpected encounters with sound outside of a conventional gallery setting. She has twice been nominated for a BASCA British Composer Award for work based in Milton Keynes: in 2014 for On Air, a large scale outdoor sound installation for The Open University campus in Walton Hall; and in 2013 for 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun, an outdoor multi-channel sound installation in a sound dome formerly sited in Central Milton Keynes.