Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind)

Interactive sound sculpture
Various dimensions
Rock, kiaat, fossil, resin, copper alloy, speaker, circuit
2016 - 2017
Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) repairs ancient, fractured rocks following a method based on the Japanese art and philosophy of Kintsukuroi1. By combining this golden repair with technology and sound a songsmith will resonate when touched. This allows each rock to sing of the land wherein it has uniquely existed for millennium. Their song is generated from the raw electro-magnetic readings captured from beneath each rock’s original resting place on the Khatlhampi Private Reserve situated within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cradle of Humankind2. Each songsmith acts as a time capsule imbued by a place in time, connecting the present with the site’s ancient history. 
Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) is part one of a three part series recording a triangle of ancient events that occurred in South Africa. This triad of events bear global significance to life, as we know it, on earth. The Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) collection consists of ten unique sound sculptures. 

Read more about this work in this article Switching a Brush for a Motherboard.

The Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) Collection videos: 

1|10     S25º58'34.9536  E27º46'39.0936"

2|10     S25º58'9.3504"  E27º47'11.7384"

3|10     S25º57'51.8184"  E27º47'3.588"

4|10     S25º58'50.0988"  E27º46'25.8492"

5|10     S25º58'48.7956"  E27º46'24.8916"  

6|10     S25º58'39.3852"  E27º46'36.1704"

7|10     S25º58'47.2548"  E27º46'32.1672"

8|10     S25º58'44.6664"  E27º46'17.1804"

9|10     S25º58'49.749"  E27º46'24.744"

10|10   S25º58'50.9448"  E27º46'29.1936"


The rocks and sound were collected during a research residency at Nirox Sculpture Park for a collaborative exhibtion, A Place In Time, with Yorkshire Sculpture Park (UK). Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) was created with specialised assistance from Open Ground (Geophysicists). 

1. Kintsukuroi: (n.) (v.phr.) “To repair with gold”; a Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. It is referred to as a physical expression of the spirit of mushin. Mushin, as a philosophy, alludes to the vicissitudes of existence over time to which all humans are susceptible.

2. The Cradle of Humankind was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999. This unique area spanning 50 000 hectres is situated not far from Johannesburg, South Africa. It has yielded some of the most important fossil finds of ancient human ancestors. These Fossil Hominid Sites are of outstanding global value, yeilding finds such as Mrs Ples, Little Foot, Taung Child Skull, Australopithecus Sediba and recently described Homo Naledi. The Homo Naledi fossil has been dated at an astoundingly precise 1.97 million years before present and therefore offers a fascinating window into our distant past and how we have evolved as a species.