Sound artist, Amie Slavin, brings the multi-sensory, sound-based installation, Other Ranks, to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, this November to form part of our Remembrance events.
Amie gives us an insight into what to expect…
Other Ranks is a project aiming to tell the civilian public how life is for ‘squaddies’ and helping to honour the sacrifices made by those serving in the British Army.
The installation will feature the stories of current and ex-soldiers, who have been on active service in dangerous places. Their stories will be played out of 16 speakers, interspersed with extracts from written sources, from classic fiction and well-known poetry, to unpublished thoughts of the rank and file.
The endless parade of marching feet, drill, handling weapons, tackling an assault course and training in urban warfare will also be heard. These sounds intend to evoke thoughts of the people inside the marching boots; each is a human being, a man prepared to give his life in combat, each is the hero of his own story. These sounds move and swell around us, illustrating the unimaginably large number of people who have gone to war under a British flag.
How many of us ever really consider what it has meant, through the centuries, for a hundred, a thousand, half a million troops to be killed in the various theatres of war? Each broken body is the culmination of a person’s life, their hopes and dreams. Raising the question of whether these men are a breed apart – or ordinary people, stepping up to do an extraordinary job?
Empty boots will stand in the space, as a further reminder of the people, mostly men, who have worn those boots and made that ultimate promise to their country. How many boots have been left standing empty, through the generations?
Under your feet, as you move around the space, the entire floor will be covered with photographs, pictures of people, thousands of them, all overlapping and layering, an apparently numberless throng. Many of the people in the photos on the floor are in uniform. The uniforms vary endlessly, but each one contains a unique person. Among the uniformed folk you will also find other people, some are the mothers, the sisters and the children. Others are the farmers, the entertainers and the cooks. They are all the victims of war; nobody is exempt; the floor is covered with pictures of humanity; those who can be shot, bombed, diseased or bereaved.
We honour and commemorate the lives lost in wars – the officers, the civilians and, centrally, the ever-marching Other Ranks.
For more information about Other Ranks, or to donate your own photographs or old military boots, please visit Amie’s website.