It Must Have Been Dark By Then


There is always something happening somewhere else.

It Must Have Been Dark By Then is a book and audio experience that uses a mixture of evocative music, narration and field recording to bring you stories of changing environments, from the swamplands of Louisiana, to empty Latvian villages and the edge of the Tunisian Sahara. Unlike many audio guides, there is no preset route, the software builds a unique map for each person’s experience. It is up to you to choose your own path through the city, connecting the remote to the immediate, the precious to the disappearing.

In January and February 2017 Duncan Speakman travelled with collaborators across three countries on three continents, visiting environments that are experiencing rapid change from human and environmental factors. What he created on his return is somewhere between a travel journal and a poetic reflection on connection, progress and memory. The experience asks the listener to seek out types of locations in their own environment, and once there it offers sounds and stories from remote but related situations. At each location the listener/reader is invited to tie those stories to the place they are in, creating a map of both where they are right now and of places that may not exist in the future.

| Created as part of the Ambient Literature research project |


Concept development and dramaturgy
Tineke De Meyer

Sarah Anderson, Duncan Speakman, Sean McGhee and Djamila Skoglund-Voss

Location research and production
Katharina Smets, Sara Zaltash and Elina Ventere

Book design
Krysztoff Dorion

Tom Abba

Application development

Interface design
Tom Metcalfe


For other current and recent work please visit this link


Duncan Speakman (UK 1976) is a composer and director of the artists collective ‘Circumstance’. Originally trained as a sound engineer at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, he moved to Bristol in 1999 where he began developing interactive documentary projects and installations. Since 2005 he has focused on mobile audio and locative media, developing work where the line between audience and performer becomes continually questioned, creating socially relevant experiences that engage audiences emotionally and physically in uncontrolled spaces.  These experiences take many forms, from mass participation performances and intimate in-ear stories, to books, installations and workshops.
He established Circumstance in 2010 as a framework for collaborations with Sarah Anderson and Emilie Grenier, and now with Tom Abba as co-director.
His own work and that of Circumstance is regularly presented internationally and recent exhibitions include Times Museum (Guangzhou), Saitama Triennial (Tokyo), Microwave (HK), Mayfest (Bristol), Z33 (Hasselt) TPAM (Tokyo), Kontraste (Krems), SonicActs (Amsterdam), Playpublik (Berlin), MOCA (Taipei), Vooruit (Gent), MediaCity (Seoul) and ArteMov (Sao Paulo), Barbican (London), FutureEverything (Manchester), Edinburgh Film Festival, and Soho Theatre (London).


work 2001 – 2017

Gewoonlijk wachten we (2017) – Eva De Groote, Tineke De Meyer De Krook, Gent
It Must Have Been Dark By Then (2017) Ambient Literature, Bristol
Darkroom (2016) Battersea Arts Centre/ China Plate
Conversation #7 (2016) – Tineke De Meyer
Songs For A thousand Duets (2016) – Sarah Anderson Saitama Triennale, Saitama
EmpathyEngine (2016) soundtrack for Rosie Poebright
Six Conversations (2015) – Tineke De Meyer
Sitting Still Moving (2015) – Sarah Anderson Times Museum, Guangzhou
NetPark (2015) soundtrack for Rosie Poebright Netpark, London
A Volume Of Circumstance (2015) – Tom Abba, Audrey Niffeneger, Stark Holborn
When There Is Only Us (2014) – Sarah Anderson Arnolfini, Bristol
My Voice Untethered (2014) De Munt, Brussels
A Hollow Body (2014) – Sarah Anderson, Tom Abba, Museum of London
Bildraum (2014) sound design for Atelier Bildraum
Periphery Songs (2014) – Sarah Anderson, Kathy Hinde, Z33, Hasselt
Relatives Of Long Ago Lovers (2014) – Sarah Anderson, Splore, Auckland
34 Bristols (2013) – Emilie Grenier
A Folded Path (2013) – Sarah Anderson, Serravles, Porto
You Who Will In No Other Way (2013) – Sarah Anderson,Serravles, Porto
These Pages Fall Like Ash (2013) – Tom Abba, Emilie Grenier, Neil Gaiman, Nick Harkaway
Short Films For You (2013) – Yoko Ishiguro, Els Viane, Reinout Hiel,Tom Abba,  Timelab, Gent
The Haiku Gap (2012) – Sarah Anderson STSpot, Yokohama
Of Sleeping Birds (2012) – Emilie Grenier, Sarah Anderson Anglia Ruskin, Futurecity, Cambridge
Tomorrow The Ground Forgets You Were Here (2012) – Sarah Anderson, Tim Redfern ,Vooruit, Gent
HoneyCombStitches (2012) – Emilie Grenier, Sarah Anderson, Anglia Ruskin, Futurecity, Cambridge
A Sleeping Bird (2012) – Emilie Grenier, Sarah Anderson Barbican, London
If You Cannot See Our Light (2012) – Emilie Grenier, Sarah Anderson, Microwave, Hong Kong, Kontraste, Krems
Shifts (2012) – Sita Calvert Ennals
Vicinity Songs (2011) – Emilie Grenier, Sarah Anderson, Kontraste, Krems
We Are Forests (2011) – Emilie Grenier NiMK, Amsterdam, Kitchen Budapest, Watershed Bristol
Give Me Back My Broken Night (2010) – Uninvited Guests Soho Theatre, London
Our Broken Voice (2010) – Emilie Grenier, Tassos Stevens, Lottie Child, Sarah Anderson InBetweenTime, Bristol
3rd Person Redux (2010) soundtrack for Prototype Theatre
Frozen (2010) soundtrack for Sita Calvert Ennals
What We Have Done (2009) Soho Theatre, London
As If It Were The Last Time (2009) Vauxhall Collective
My World Is Empty Without You (2009) Mayfest Bristol
Boundary Songs (2008) Performance Space, Sydney
Perfect Juicer (2008) – Hannah Still Brewhouse, Taunton
Sounds From Above The Ground (2007) InBetweenTime, Bristol
Always Something Somewhere Else (2007) HP Labs, Bristol
For Every Step You Take (2007) Arnolfini, Bristol
Almost Perfect (2007) Peer advisor, locative media residency Banff, Calgary
Noise Forecast (2007) – Birgit Binder Fierce, Birmingham
Feelings Are Always Local (2006) Brewhouse, Taunton
I make this my land (2006) Henbury, Bristol
Hothouse (2006) Brewhouse, Tauton
TenWalks (2006) Holme Farm, Exeter
Footfall (2006) Holme Farm, Exeter
Dirty Weather (2005) Watchet
You Must Remember This (2005) Love and Light, Barking
Schlock (2004) – Uninvited Guests Leeds Metropolitan Theatre
Lock (2003) Camden Lock
Schminky (2003) HP Labs, Bristol
LiveChat (2002) – Paul Clarke Watershed, Bristol
Formality (2002) Watershed, Bristol
32000 Points of Light (2002) – Andy Gracie, Jessica Marlowe, Alex Bradley Arnolfini, Bristol
Knot (2001) PVA, Dorset

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