I Co-produced this sonic artwork by Somerset House Studios artists Anna Meredith and Music Hackspace, highlighting an overlooked but integral part of Skate at Somerset House.
As part of an expanded programme of artist commissions across Somerset House, Anna Meredith produced an original soundtrack inspired by our ice resurfacing machine (the Engo 170 SX), a ubiquitous yet fundamental feature of ice rinks across the world. Using the machine’s natural hum as a starting point, Meredith composed a sequence of harmonising drones alongside instrumentation inspired by early video game soundtracks and their similarly elementary characters/inhabitants. Named after the traditional stately dance and the ice resurfacing machine’s inventor, Sarabande for Zamboni is a hypnotic composition that played during each evening’s resurfacing.
Using motion tracking software coded by Music Hackspace resident Tim Murray-Browne, the piece used the live movements of the machine to influence and effect the instrumentation. With each performance - unique and reflective of the conditions of the ice - this audio artwork transformed routine maintenance into an unexpected spectacle.
The semi-automated ice resurfacing machine was invented by entrepreneur and engineer Frank J Zamboni in 1949. The vehicle, which is often referred to colloquially as the Zamboni, shaves off the top layer of scratched surface ice and lays a thin layer of water in its wake turned the lengthy, arduous task of rink resurfacing into a fifteen-minute endeavour.