Undercurrency Vault: 53.3414° N, 1.7921° W – a chat with Toby Heys of AUDINT

Fri 08 Sep 2017

Hi Toby, there’s so much to ask you about the historically-focused research on warfare, technology and biology that has gone into making Undercurrency Vault: 53.3414° N, 1.7921° W . How and where did you begin?

AUDINT’s interest in such underground spaces derives from research into spaces that document and archive human’s extreme psychological and physical trauma. Whether in the bomb shelters of London Tube Stations during WW2, the Viet Cong’s Củ Chi tunnels, the Catacombs of Paris, Saddam Hussein’s final bunker, or every mine ever engineered throughout the history of humankind, each has become a subterranean vault of misery; numerous chapters and tomes of pain secreted within its leaden walls.

Bones from the former Magdeleine cemetery (La Ville Leveque Street numbers 1 and 2). Deposited in 1844 in the western ossuary (bone repository) and transferred to the Parisian catacombs in September 1859.

What is so powerful about the relationship between sound and trauma?

We are particularly interested in the proposition that memories can be transferred from the somatic archive of the mind to the material ledgers of built and naturally occurring environments such as buildings, bridges and caves. In this way, memories, especially ones that are amplified via adrenaline, anxiety and fear, gain the capacity to change registers, from short-term to deep time repositories.

You’ve chosen to use ‘props’ in the form of a ‘taste of fear’ lozenge, courtesy of Stockport restaurant Where The Light Gets In, and haptic SUBPACs that jolt your spine with vibrations. Is this the first time you’ve used aids, why did you choose to for this work?

In order to destabilise the sensory hierarchy of the senses AUDINT regularly utilise a range of multi-sensory technologies and techniques. We consider multi-sensory delivery methods affective for uploading ideas into the cultural consciousness.

A 93-pound inflatable tank, of the kind used by the Ghost Army (National Archives)

Who are AUDINT, please?
AUDINT is a sonic research cell that first came into being just after WW2. Formed by 3 ex-members of the Ghost Army it later resurfaced during the Vietnam War, staffed by the filmmaker Magdalena Parker, Marshall Spector and Vietnamese bio-acoustics expert NguyễnVăn Phong. The current iteration of AUDINT consists of Patrick Defasten, Steve Goodman, Eleni Ikoniadou, Toby Heys and Souzanna Zamfe.

Tell us something that will enhance our experience of Undercurrency?
DBX

What are you reading? Or Listening to?
We are currently reading through the 64 texts that comprise our next book – an anthology called Unsound : Undead, which will be published in 2018.

Ghost Army Insignia circa 1944.