Mineralia’ is an audio accompaniment to the Natural History Museum’s mineral collection. This collaboratively composed sound work mimics and subverts the museum audio guide format in order to explore alternative ways of interacting with the display. Using the intimacy of a textured acoustic experience ‘Mineralia’ gives space to the histories and politics of display, specific to the Natural History Museum, which have somehow escaped representation.
The specimens on display in the mineral collection construct a geological history; the curated minerals present us with an archive that organises nature and science. The collection has been assembled and classified by their chemical compositions and crystal structures. Embalmed in glass cabinets – for the purpose of illumination – they are consecrated to realm of the museological, made to act as testimony to discovery and enlightenment.
In their vitrines the minerals lie motionless, dormant and quiet. The cabinets render their contents mute. Obedient to the museum’s logic of display, the minerals articulate a historical process of organisation, but in their mutability they are also in excess. Held within, and attached to them, are multiple histories and associations. How do we make audible the stories that are not present in these cabinets?
‘Mineralia’ is an attempt at considering these spaces of silence, and to excavate and preserve the histories and stories that cannot be heard in the Mineral Gallery. Together the audio tracks endeavour to summon stories untold, present unfamiliar histories and create an alternative space of listening.
The tracks that make up ‘Mineralia’ work across genres and between different styles to form an audio guide which can be listened to in its entirety or broken down into sections. Some tracks take the style of conventional documentaries; pulling apart the labour relations and geopolitical organisations that effect mineral extraction. Others are more abstract in form and content, exploring aesthetic acoustics in order to address the space of the museum. Together the tracks offer an alternative, and intimate, way of engaging with the collection.
A collaborative project by MA students in the course Conflicts & Negotiations at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London: Stine Alling Jacobsen, Amelie Buchinger, Marco Dell’Oca, Phoebe Eustance, Eldar Gantz, Jess Gough, Hania Halabi, Thomas Jenkins, Susannah Jones, Yasemin Keskintepe, Siobhan Leddy, Ion Maleas, Pietro Pezzani, Grace Philips, Laurie Robins, Savitri Sastrawan, Sarah Shattock, Sam Stork, Alexandra Symons Sutcliffe.
Listen to the minerals online or via smartphone when you visit the Natural History Museum
Collective listening event on March 24 2015 at 11am (NHM)