What does a cell sound like?

Ann, Alex and Milton in rehearsal (March 2013) Photo by Lou Miller

Ann, Alex and Milton in rehearsal (March 2013) Photo by Lou Miller

After months of dreaming and planning (and writing funding applications), the Bloodlines team finally get their teeth into the practical work of the project.  We want to nail the opening section of the show as we’ve been invited to present the project at a major medical conference on the 6th April (European Bone Marrow Group annual conference, the Patients’ Day). What we hope to show is the opening section, a lecture on haematology that mutates in a way that represents the proliferation of mutant white blood cells in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.   It’s an ironic choice of extract for the occasion as our audience (prospective and actual bone marrow transplant recipients) will already have had a day of medical lectures.  So we’ve got to do a good job of augmenting it with sound and visuals, especially when the mutation kicks in.


Work is slow going because we are working three elements of the show alongside each other:  Anna’s videoscape (what looks like a standard powerpoint transforms into something more frightening), Milton’s sounds (he’s characterising several of the cell types in sonic form) and the text that Ann will be delivering in that part of the final performance (Bex will be playing her for the EBMT event).  There are long periods of time when each of us is in their own world, staring at laptops and tapping keyboards.  When we do attempt to run the material together,  there are long pauses and diversions – including a lengthy discussion with Ann which eventually establishes that red blood cells sound like rubber rather than wood.


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