Fixed media (binaural recording).
The title of this work, shovels.office.about, reflects the working conditions faced by workers in precarious employment today – frequent journeys, long commutes, and a multitude of different desks, colleagues, online accounts and working practices. The title re-uses the what3words location for Platform 2 at Ellesmere Port Railway Station, from where we await the 15:34 parliamentary train to Helsby.
An in-ear binaural microphone technique records the journey I took more-or-less monthly from 2015 to 2017. In contrast to the other ‘cattle train’ commuter routes I travelled, the blank corner of the image here reveals the ‘ghost train’ feel of this particular line: I was consistently the only passenger aboard between Ellesmere Port and Helsby, and the conductor’s announcements were voiced for me alone.
In 2004, written evidence submitted to the Select Committee on Transport stated that “Nobody can be expected to use such a “service” as it does not fit any work or leisure patterns” (section 2.1.3). Fifteen years later, the line remains open, however, since to close it down would require some parliamentary process or other, and would likely become expensive, time-consuming, and/or reputation-threatening…
The audio for this work was recorded in November 2016, and remained silent on a hard-drive for several years. I have made it available now after broadcast by The Dark Outside for their summer-solstice extravaganza, a 24-hour site-specific FM-radio broadcast of previously unheard sounds.