My trip to Schwarzwald was primarily spent navigating a large amount of hairpin bends, talking to clockmakers (traditional and modern) and discovering the mountain hideaway of Martin Heidegger. The first VR field recording was taken by Heidegger’s hut with the sounds of a water pump and morning birdsong striking an aptly meditative tone. The hut itself is located along something called the Martin Heidegger Rundweg (which I believe translates to Martin Heidegger Trail or similar). There is parking nearby at the Radschert Wunderparkplatz (as far as I could tell this is the start of the trail – see pictures below).
View from the parking spot (Path starts at left)
This post marks the start of the Rundweg
Hammock seat near the crest of the hill gives spectacular views of the mountains receding into the distance.
The monoscope and white cross are situated at a fork in the path (take the right turn to head towards the hut)
This post marks the next turning to continue on the Rundweg
Snow still covers much of the route as of mid-April
This post marks the final turning along the way (turn right then back on yourself)
View from the path
Recording the hut
View along the Rundweg after the main site.
The second recording took place in a quiet patch of forest near the town of Bubenbach. The day was eerily still and the snow from the previous night further softened the ambient noise, creating a hushed background of muffled woodland sounds.
As alluded to earlier, my alterior motive for visiting this region was to meet two local clockmakers to discuss the local history of clockmaking and automata.
Below is a short clip filmed in the Clock Museum of Furtwangen:
Currently working on a documentary relating to timekeeping, the owners of Cuckooland Cuckoo Clock Museum have graciously given me time and access to the country’s largest collection of antique Black Forest cuckoo clocks – not only for the short-form documentary in which they will feature but also for the creation of a series of immersive field recordings. Two 8k recordings with spatial audio were taken in the larger rooms and a lower resolution in the back room. Both to be uploaded here soon!
An abandoned nuclear power station in Charleroi, Belgium.
Listed in Google as ‘Blue Power Plant’ – there are several routes of access to this site, make sure you arrive on the correct side of the river that adjoins this location as it is impassable. Access is (as of March 2019) relatively simple & the spot seems to be very popular with urbexers and other interested parties, as is the rest of the surrounding area; a long decline in the regions once thriving industrial economy has apparently left many photogenic abandoned places. I was concerned with encountering security at several points but in fact ended up meeting many other like-minded souls filming, taking photos and exploring. There are some security measures like fencing etc but are on the whole easy to bypass thanks to paths created by earlier visitors. The dam which is located within visual range of the cooling tower has a guard, however he showed no interest in the numerous urberxers that visited the site during the few hours I was there.
The cooling tower…
Metal stairway that leads to entry point.
The door seems to have been sealed at one time but now is easy to enter.
The interior is imposing in scale and creates remarkable acoustic effects.
Video and spatial audio soon to be uploaded on my VR channels.
As previously mentioned Charleroi is chockablock with fascinating abandoned structures, including Charbonnage Number 10 (a well-known urbexing site that is free to access and is apparently a great starting point for urbexing debutantes.) On the opposite side of the river from the cooling tower is an absoutely humongous disused factory – entry is via the smaller building further down the hill from the main structure. The interior of this monster has been entirely gutted an so gives a spectacular impression of scale, similar to the hollow interior of the cooling tower.
Exterior from outside security fence
Close up of exterior
Other urbexers look for entry points
Interor of the main building…
I made sure to record immersive video and audio from within the compound, a further visit might permit me to enter into the main structure (the build-up of material on the reverse side of the structure means that there is quite a drop to the inner floor).
Between the World Wars, before the invention of radar, parabolic sound mirrors were used experimentally as early-warning devices by military air defence forces to detect incoming enemy aircraft by listening for the sound of their engines. During World War 2 on the coast of southern England, a network of large concrete acoustic mirrors was in the process of being built when the project was cancelled owing to the development of the Chain Home radar system. Many of these mirrors are still standing today.
The sound mirror at Abbot’s Cliff, between Folkestone and Dover in Kent, is one of the easier ones to access, via a small road connecting to the A20 then a footpath with traverses along the cliff-edge.
The beach under Abbot’s Cliff is little known outside the naturist community with whom it is a popular spot. Set below the high chalk cliffs between Samphire Hoe Country Park and “The Warren” Country Park, this is not the most accessible beach along the Folkestone / Dover coast.
The beach here is mostly pebble and shingle with rocks off the shoreline. It is a pleasant, natural feeling spot that has not been developed.
Whilst Abbot’s Cliff is not officially a nudist beach it is long established. Some even suggest that it may escape the anti-nudity by-laws applying to other Folkestone beaches on account of the land being owned by the railway authority.
As I drove up to the tapering Breton peninsula an incredibly thick fog settled on the northern and western regions of France creating perfect conditions for the two recordings I made here, dampening extraneous road noise and creating a suitably mystical atmosphere.
Many of the stones in this standing circle were discovered relatively recently and the site itself (having been originally recorded in 1825) was rediscovered in 1976 following a large wildfire which cleared out the dense undergrowth that had subsumed the site.