Another visit to the Abbot’s Cliff sound mirror, while walking the North Downs Way long distance footpath.
Abbot’s Cliff Sound Mirror – Strait of Dover is a picture of a “sound mirror” built during the World War II era for the purpose of amplifying the noise of approaching aircraft. […] Beam’s camera translates light and shadow into a negative, and then a print, the sound mirror takes what is unheard out of thin air and translates it to something we can hear. The old Zen question about the tree falling in the woods is meditative, but it is also scientific: If there is no one around to hear it, it definitively does not make a sound. Similarly, if there is no eye, there is no image.
The effectiveness of Beam’s pursuit is deepened by Section of Abbot’s Cliff Sound Mirror, prints made from charcoal rubbings of the stone mirror itself. […]
Source: “Robert Collier Beam: Scry” at Pump Project, The Austin Chronicle, 26 May 2017.
Acoustic mirrors: how to find planes without radar, by Al Williams at Hackaday (“entertainment for engineers and engineering enthusiasts”):
While today the acoustic mirror is a museum curiosity, before World War II, it was a method of detecting aircraft. The mirror could focus the sound from an aircraft engine allowing early detection. There are several of these stations still on the coast of Britain and one in Malta. A microphone picked up the sound and the construction wasn’t actually parabolic, they were spherical mirrors. The reason is that a parabolic mirror has to move to determine direction, while a spherical mirror could detect direction by moving the microphone.
There will be a cash-only charge of £4 per adult, £2 per child or £3 per student, with a family discount of one free child per family. Under 5s, carers and RSPB members are also free.
(Please note that andrewgrantham.co.uk has no connection to the open day, the RSPB or anything else! Please check the details with the RSPB before visiting)
The Guardian article How to amuse yourself in a 14-hour queue at Dover suggests: “The A20 between Folkestone and Dover can be an area of breathtaking beauty, with sea views and endless greenery to distract you from your hellish conditions. Get stranded in the right place and you could go and explore the Abbot’s Cliff sound mirror, or the Samphire Hoe nature reserve.”
Covenant’s new single ‚Sound Mirrors’ gives us a first impression of their forthcoming album “The Blinding Dark”. For the first time ever, the Swedes address distinctly topical events in world politics: the refugee crisis with its accompanying hysteria and the anxiety about the future of a European continent that looks forward into uncertainty.
Sound Mirrors were acoustic mirrors that looked like giant stone ears, placed along the Englisch coast between 1916 and 1930 in order warn of approaching planes or war ships. Their elliptical shape bundled acoustic signals, and they were considered to be both technological and constructional masterpieces. Faster planes and especially the invention of radar made sound mirrors obsolete later on, so today, they are merely stone witnesses of bygone times along the southern and north-eastern coasts of England. The reference tot he refugee crisis and creeping radicalisation of Europe becomes particularly obvious when hearing Covenant’s lyrics for the corresponding song.
Musically, the band does not miss out on anything, delivering a club smasher that harks back to single classics such as ‚Stalker’ or ‚Last Dance’. While unusual splashes of colour enhance the overall picture, ‚Sound Mirrors’ is bound to become an enduring earworm that will soon set dancefloors aflame.
Band member Joakim Montelius wrote on the band’s Facebook page on 25 June 2016:
I was reading an article about this British pre-WWII project for early warning from attacks across the Channel, called Sound Mirrors. They were designed to amplify incoming sound from enemy aircraft enough to allow the defence to take them out before they could pose a serious threat. It was an elaborate and ingenious design, expensive as well, and it was rendered obsolete by the advent of radar.
My reading coincided with the refugee situation in Europe. The fact that we all knew about the reasons for it since years, without doing anything to help, made me think of this pattern. How we, humans in general, do everything in our power to try and predict future threats. That ability to anticipate possible scenarios is of course key to our survival, from an evolutionary point of view. [More…]
Filming with a drone – The Dungeness Sound Mirrors. pic.twitter.com/Kc2zZ0CZJW
— Tim Paine (@TimPaine) June 25, 2016
CEMEX UK commissioned ECP Video to produce a short documentary on the history of the gravel pit at Dungeness, which is now an RSPB nature reserve.
— theQuietus (@theQuietus) July 11, 2016
The mirrors’ fruitlessness may be forgiven if only because of the uncanny impression one gets that they were built for a future not yet seen or understood. Indeed, its second life as a monument and relic has been more enduring than its first.
Christo Hall visits the sound mirrors on the Kent coast with photographer Stuart Leech and “finds an obscure functionalism melting into majestic land art”, in The Second Life Of Concrete: Brutalism’s Renaissance, published by The Quietus on 10 July 2016.
Saturday 23 July
Drop in any time between 10am and 3pm
Price: Free. Donations are welcome.
On this day only, RSPB Dungeness will open up the reserve for free! Come and see what this fantastic place has to offer and get up close to our recently acquired, historical Sound Mirrors (or Listening Ears)! Come along for the day where we open them up for everybody to have a wander around the site and talk to our staff and volunteers about what we are doing to give nature a home here. So why not spend the day surrounded in nature and history and afterwards head to the visitor centre for a cup of tea or an ice cream to round the day off nicely.
Please note that I have absolutely no connection with the RSPB or the open days. Make you sure that you confirm the details of the open day with the RSPB before going – do not rely on this Sound Mirrors website.
The Remembering 1916 – Life on the Western Front exhibition about the First World War in the year 1916 is being held at the Whitgift Exhibition Centre in south Croydon from 12 March to 31 August 2016. It is well worth seeing.
The exhibition covers many aspects of the war, from Gallipoli to Jutland to the home front to conscientious objectors, with extensive displays of uniforms, documents, photographs, art, memorabilia, weapons and other exhibits from Britain, France and Germany.
Full-size mock-ups using real objects portray rooms in a 1916 house, a horse-drawn wagon, a trench on the first day of the Somme, a fort at Verdun and a German machine gun position.
While there is nothing about sound mirrors there (as far as I could see), there is a display about Zeppelins.
Also of aviation interest is the display about an old boy of the school who was shot down (fatally) by the Red Baron.
The exhibition explicitly avoids getting bogged down in the politics and debates about who started the war or “lions led by donkeys”. In a refreshingly different approach, it attempts to give a 1916-eye view, and not simply see things through the lens of modern ideas about politics, class and gender – or a late-1980s TV sitcom.
The exhibition is not far from central Croydon: plenty of buses stop nearby.