Lantern Room

by Mark Lyken

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This short track was originally created for the British Library Inspired by Flickr series curated by Cheryl Tipp.
The challenge was to create a short audio piece inspired by one of the million images released by the British Library onto Flickr Commons.


Albert Bleunard's 19th Century scifi novel, Babylon Electrified finds itself at the centre of our Inspired by Flickr series.
Lyken was drawn to an image of a glowing lantern which evoked memories of a field recording trip to a lighthouse in the Scottish Highlands.

The impact of this simple illustration is twofold: as well as igniting a creative spark in the artist, it also triggered specific memories that ultimately influenced and shaped the final composition heard here. Lantern Room is a subtle response to an image that may well have been lost to the annals of time, together with many others, were it not for the work of our digital research team and the talents of artists like Lyken who have embraced this challenge wholeheartedly and are helping us demonstrate the creative potential of digital content.

"My Lantern Room piece is based on this great image from page 228 of Babylon Electrified and on my own Lighthouse experience - in this case the Cromarty Lighthouse on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands. The Cromarty Lighthouse was decommissioned in 2005 and the lens, generators and all other equipment were removed.

I wanted to capture the oddly musical hum of those absent electrical transformers and generators that I imagined in the old battery room and the crackle of electricity that I heard in my minds eye when I first read the books title. It seemed fitting to use a small patchable synth, an instrument alive with electricity to generate these sounds. These sounds were layered on top of a recent recording taken inside the empty Lantern Room of the Lighthouse.

To finish the piece off I came up with a recurring sound that I thought suggested the turning of the lens mechanism and periodic flash of light. I have no idea where a lighthouse figures into the Babylon Electrified story but interpreting the image alone gave me the chance (in my head anyway) to power up and light the Cromarty Lighthouse one last time."


released May 7, 2014
Sound Collage by Mark Lyken
Soft Error | 2017



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Soft Error Scotland, UK

Audio & Visual label

Sound art, field recording, drone,
sound collage,
tape music & unruly electronics

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