Duncan Speakman (UK 1976) is a composer and sound artist based at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol. He creates narrative sound led experiences that engage audiences in uncontrolled public and private space. He regularly creates bespoke work internationally including installations on trains in Guangzhou, loudspeaker symphonies in New Zealand, audio walks in Saitama, and sound installations in Porto; he has also recently developed a number of hybrid print/digital experiments. His current research is in the relationship between locative urban audio experiences and contemporary ecology, wrapping the questions in melancholy and romance.
He set up and directed the arts collective Circumstance from 2010 – 2017 with Sarah Anderson and Emilie Grenier, later joined by Tom Abba. He continues now as a solo artist and researcher.
He manages to use the building blocks of our so familiar environment to create a new
representation of it, revealing a landscape within a landscape.
– Colm Lally, E:VENT Gallery
Work that makes you feel joyous and sad at once. Its trace haunts the memory like a beautiful echo.
– Toby Smith, Director, Salisbury Festival
I have experienced Circumstance as a commissioner, collaborator and audience member and every interaction has been genuinely rewarding. Their work is always high quality, they continually seek to create new cultural forms and explore new means of expression and they take incredible care to look after their audiences. Track them down and work with them now
– Clare Reddington, Creative Director, Watershed, Bristol
The works in Porto touched my relation with the city and particular places in a very subtle but luminous and lasting way. Their very unique personal warmth and social reach still get hold of me sometimes when I walk those same paths.
– Pedro Rocha, Serravles Museum, Porto
a beautiful and otherworldly quality
– The Guardian
A Folded Path is a truly immersive experience for everyone that encounters it allowing familiar places to be reimagined through a series of wanderings filled with the most beautiful sounds. It’s one of the most magical works we’ve had the pleasure of commissioning
– Lisa Meyer, Creative Director, Supersonic Festival, Birmingham
a welcome taste of transmedia storytelling
Whilst tending to recoil from the phrase ‘game changing’, Circumstance make me want to say it. The experiences they put into the world are unlike anything else and for that reason are impossible to shovel neatly into a genre. The work is beautiful, moving, attentive, generous, melancholy, personal and profound. It is cinematic (and often described as such), poetic and other-wordly – breathing in and out naturally from the epic to the intimate. In fact it’s usually both at the same time. Their discretion and sensitivity to what it means to make work in public space, and their cleverness around making work with complex sound and mobile technologies without it feeling cluttered by ‘tech’, is totally inspiring. The audience is right at the heart of it and we always want to know what they do next
– Kate Yedigaroff, MAYK/Mayfest
The unexpected experience offered feels like a real life filmic experience that masterfully sets the stage for your own imagination to discover the unseen poetry in everyday life.
– Eva de Groot, Timelab, Ghent
I don’t really know this city, or I didn’t realize I was living in it, until Circumstance provided a brand new angle with their breathtaking city soundtrack. Stories coming from those hidden corners, familiar scenes of everyday life are all brought to the present when you are listening to this beautiful piece. A tear or a smile, will remain on your face while all the cells of your body are awakened, after being asleep for decades.
– Veronica Wong, Curator, Times Museum, Guangzhou
I slipped into the city of my memories.. ghostly promises brush against me.I am in tears
– Realtime Arts
some of the smartest, most arresting interpretations of narrative in a pervasively networked world. Whether working with location, audio, video or paper, the work is intelligent, playful, beautiful and irresistible
– George Walkley, Head of Digital, Hachette UK
A personal invitation to a public experience, the strength of the work is in the juxtaposition of a new layer of story with a familiar city landscape – the barriers between these two can be invisible but generate a subtle difference in your relationship with your surroundings.
– Mark Leaver, Development Director, Playable City
a deliberate slap in the face to the flashmob phenomena, this is as much a hybrid entertainment as Avatar, and it similarly reshapes the cultural landscape. Unlike Avatar, it does so one street at a time. Avatar wants to take you out of your everyday life for 3 hours, while subtlemob wants to put you even deeper into the quotidien.
– Paul Currion
The narrative built like a collage, like a barrage of images and sounds and ideas that didn’t fit, and then you realised they were building a whole person. It hurt. And it was wonderful. You felt like you were falling off a building.
It was true augmented reality, and I want to take my friends and loved ones back there with me. It hurts that I can’t. But that’s kind of what being is, isn’t it?
– Hannah Nicklin
Simple everyday actions take on new meaning as tableaux merge and intertwine within the carefully choreographed constellations of moments
– Dazed and Confused
Everything that was said seemed to predict what was going to happen, as if the street suddenly became the scene of a theatre that was directly responding to the soundtrack … the schizophrenic feeling of being both a spectator and actor, an insider and an onlooker. Above all, the inexplicably intense sensation of belonging to the street, of being here and now in the city.
– Olivier Ruellet