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Oh Dear Me


Knifeandfork creates a distributed analog musical messaging system that reflects the spaces and stories of Dundee.


In a new commissioned work Oh Dear Me, the artist collaborative Knifeandfork (Brian House and Sue Huang) invites the public to chat through a distributed musical messaging system that activates the acoustic geography and industrial history of Dundee, Scotland.

A series of musicians are situated along a path winding through the historic jute mills of the Blackness area of Dundee. Visitors are invited to type a message into a computer console at either endpoint of the path, and their words are encoded via fragments of The Jute Mill Song (Oh Dear Me), a folk song written around 1920 by Dundee mill worker and labor activist Mary Brooksbank. The musicians subsequently pass the music to one another by ear until the message is decoded on the opposite terminal. Along the way, the melodies cascading through the city reverberate in urban spaces associated with Dundee’s industrial past and connect historical textile production with the contemporary labor of our culture of computation.

The performance, with musicians from Scotland’s Red Note Ensemble, is occurring as part of the NEoN Digital Arts Festival and is scheduled for Saturday, November 12th from 2-4pm (with an intermission from 2:45-3:15pm). The performance is situated with terminals at West Ward Works on Guthrie Street and the historic jute mill museum Verdant Works on West Henderson’s Wynd. Visitors are invited to interact with the system at either endpoint and to walk the neighborhood, encountering the musicians as they wander.