The foghorn is a sonic marker used in conditions of low visibility to alert vessels of hidden navigational hazards. Part of the coastal landscape since its invention in the nineteenth century, foghorns became obsolete with the rise of automatic alert systems or simpler devices such as compressed air horns. Writer and researcher Jennifer Lucy Allan dedicated her doctoral thesis to the social and cultural history of the foghorn, ‘a sound that’s lost and not lost at the same time’, and which ‘suggests loneliness and isolation, but is simultaneously a wordless reassurance to those out at sea that there’s a human presence nearby.’
In this podcast Ràdio Web MACBA talk to Jennifer Lucy Allan about metereology and aurality, about volumes, distance and communities, about sounds disconnected from their function, holes in YouTube and holes in official archives, and amateur archivists. And about the making of sensory records before the end of the twentieth century and how this archival memory can be interpreted.
Photo Courtesy of the organisation