Full of Noises, a sound art and new music organisation based in a public park on Cumbria’s Furness Peninsula, hosted me for a week-long residency in September 2021.
During a previous residency in the area in 2018, I connected with Furness Amateur Radio Society and began work on a project that attempts to listen to the submarines built in BAE's warehouses in Barrow. Now returning to the area as a licensed amateur radio operator (call sign M7HKW), a field largely dominated by men of retirement age, I spent the week building radio receivers that operate on the very low frequency (VLF) range used by submarines, hoping to hear their exchanges of coded signals from ship to shore.
Using Dan Tappers recipe, I built a VLF induction loop with copper wire and a hula hoop, and adapting instructions from amateur radio operator M0WGF, I built a 10 metre long ribbon antenna. To minimise the hum of mains electricity from my recordings, I travelled to South Walney Nature Reserve, Piel Island, and a Hoad Hill in Ulverston to listen through the DIY antennas. Facing west I picked up a clear signal from Radio 4 and two other stations. I also heard sounds of mobile phones and data modes - potentially used by submarines, and plenty of sferics (atmospheric disturbances caused by lightning). I'm imagining possibilities for a future 'citizen watchdog' allowing residents to use DIY VLF receivers to make audible the underwater military operations that surround them, workshops to built antennas and trips and group performances with these.