Lowland, Susan Philipsz

Susan Philipsz is the winner of this year’s Turner Prize. In the exhibition at the Tate Britain, you can hear Philipsz’s voice coming from three different sides of the room, singing – unaccompanied – three slightly different versions of a 16th–century Scottish traditional song, Lowlands Away. The voices at first sing in a unison, then, as the song continues, differences start to emerge, and a delay between the voices appears. It’s something close to an echo, but not exactly, even if it has to do with the listener’s perception of the space. The original piece was installed in Glasgow this spring, under three bridges over the river Clyde.

I visited the Turner Prize exhibition three days ago. On the same day, while waiting for a train at the new Haggerston Overground station, I had the chance to hear something that reminded me of what I had heard a few hours before. Two trains were approaching the station, and this triggered the simultaneous voice announcements for the two opposite platforms: as in Lowlands, first they spoke in a unison, then the differences in the two texts caused a delay:

The first train to arrive at platform (one/two) will be a service (calling all stations/…) to (Crystal Palace/Dalston Junction)

If you want to hear Lowlands, recorded in its original location, here’s a video produced by 47 Film.