Ganchrow’s Forecast for Shipping

25 May 2023

Raviv Ganchrow’s Forecast for Shipping installation is currently on display at Het Nieuwe Instituut (Rotterdam) until June 15, as part of an expanded cartographies exhibition titled Weaving Worlds, curated by Topological Atlas and Borders & Territories.

Forecast for Shipping examines material and spatial properties of radio transmission in BBC Radio 4's renowned Shipping Forecast bulletin. The project employed five coordinated field recording teams following the course of a single winter broadcast over its expansive journey from Britain to mainland Europe. Recordings were taken from multiple auditory perspectives through a variety of transducers: from inside the radio studio in London's Broadcasting House; onboard a ship at sea; on site at the transmitting antenna at Droitwich and at its reception on transistor radios, in three domestic settings, some 500 km away, reconstituted in a 10-channel audio work. The work examines an interweaving of language, geography, radiation and precipitation, where transduced speech demarcates, occupies and territorializes dimensions of terrestrial space while at the same time performing attentions that dynamically shape spheres of experience and identity into diverse forms of social currency.

The forecast, issued by the Met Office and transmitted on BBC Radio 4 (four times daily) has a strict formal structure, limited to 370 words, read clockwise around Britain’s 31 sea-areas.

Arcane terminology with numeric precision of facts and figures together with the bulletin’s rhythmic repetitious delivery establishes the forecast's poetic mystique. The final late-night edition – an extended 12-minute nightly broadcast commencing at 00:48, beginning with the light-orchestral piece Sailing By and concluded with the national anthem – has a particularly devout following from nearly three generations of drowsy listeners for whom it functions as a kind of collective lullaby.

Taken as a site, the forecast reflects a richness of contexts, material histories and shifting ontologies of weather, seascape and sound. Circulating within Shipping Forecast’s radiophonic modes of hearing and listening are material aspects of wireless transmission, alert calls, maritime safety, environmental sensing and mathematical modeling, landscape electrical conductivity, Empire communication and navigation, wartime meteorology, architectural acoustics, as well as aspects of national and regional identities, collective sleep and English domesticity.

Ganchrow’s Forecast for Shipping was partially supported and realized in conjunction with the Sounds of Broadcast research project at KonCon.

Weaving Worlds will be up until June 15 in HNI’s Gallery 3.