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.”
— 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.
Huw Morgan is a composer, organist and conductor is “drawn to the power of ancient, haunted landscapes and their lost inhabitants; fascinated by impermanence, space, and time.” This is the first perfomance of his new piece Sound Mirrors for organ and fixed media electronics, inspired by the Denge listening ears: “alien structures haunting the coastal landscape, still listening to the skies…”.
It was given by the composer as part of an Automatronic concert in the JAM-on-the-Marsh 2015 festival. Field recordings were made at St-Mary-on-the-Marsh and elsewhere on Romney Marsh.
BBC interview about the sound mirror in Redcar: “In 1916 it was sitting in open farm land. Since then a modern housing estate has grown up around it. The concrete structure has not always been treated well. When it stopped being used to detect German raids a farmer used it as a spot to store manure. There have been problems with bike enthusiasts using it as a ramp to practice their stunts.” Release date: 22 January 2014.