Mid Pennine Arts and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council commissioned renowned artist collective, Owl Project, to create a site specific installation for Turton Tower as part of the Contemporary Heritage programme. For this commission, called K-Scope, Owl Project have created two elements that link the Tower and the garden: inside is a wooden analogue computer that weaves light, and outside three fantastic listening horns exhibited in the Tower’s gardens.
“We became fascinated by the notion that James Kay had developed a series of tunnels and maybe a workshop underneath the Tower. This is not as fanciful as it might sound – if the loom riots forced contemporary inventors to hide their machines throughout their houses, then so might Kay. What is in this catacomb, we wondered?”
In the garden the Owl Project’s speaker horns invite you to listen in, and imagine what unseen activity might be going on underground from the sounds that you hear…. Inside the Tower, inspired by James Kay’s inventions, Owl Project drew an analogy with current technological developments; the path from weaving and early machine programming to modern computers, fibre optic communication, and even optical computing. Owl Project in effect connect these two different eras by replacing flax with light as a raw material in the K-Scope, an imagined early form of analogue computer that you will find in the Tower’s Library. Good at modeling real world events, analogue computers started appearing around the same time as James Kay lived at Turton. The first ones were used to predict tidal flow, working in a continuous manner rather than the discrete snapshops that current digital computers use. In terms of Owl Project practice, this new machine weaves sound from light in a similar way that their 2012 Cultural Olympiad work ~Flow, based on a floating water mill, ‘milled’ data into sound instead of grain into flour.
Turton Tower is open to the public March–October every year, and this new commission launched on 16 March 2013. The Tower is a beautiful Grade 1 listed building located in the dramatic setting of the West Pennine Moors between Blackburn and Bolton. Turton has evolved over five centuries, from a defensive tower to a family home. It is now a unique and atmospheric visitor destination, housing a wonderful collection of period furniture and paintings.
Read more on Mid Pennine Arts' website: midpenninearts.org.uk/turton-tower
The film maker is Ben Wigley