Locative Literature

My doctoral research began with an investigation into multimedia and site-specific presentations of literary texts.  This investigation was carried out across a series of public projects in which a repertoire of compositional and production strategies were developed.  Example projects are detailed below:

  • Laganside: A Mobile Poetry Experience in Belfast
  • Belfast City Choir
  • Tolka Nights 

Laganside: A Mobile Poetry Experience in Belfast

Laganside: A Mobile Poetry Experience in Belfast – a locative media poetry and soundscape app developed for iPhone and Android.   The app activates composed soundscapes and multimedia productions of site-specific poems as users walk along Belfast’s River Lagan.  The app includes poems by writers associated with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry such as Sinead Morrissey, Alan Gillis and Ben Maier.  The app was developed as part of my doctoral research and published with support from Belfast City Council’s Literary Belfast initiative.

One of the audio poems from Laganside was included in SARC’s AHRC funded Belfast Soundwalks project.  My practical findings during the development of Laganside helped with the coding the Belfast Soundwalks app in my role as Soundwalks Design Consultant.  Belfast Soundwalks contributed to the REF for Queen’s University Belfast.


July 2012 :  Apple iOS App Store  and  Google Play

Public engagement:

17 April 2013 : ‘Demonstration of Laganside: A Mobile Poetry Experience in Belfast’. Local Talent, Global Impact (Thinking Forward Through the Past) – Arts, Humanities and Social Science research profiling event, Queen’s University Belfast.

21 Sept 2012 : ‘Laganside iPhone walking tour’. Culture Night Belfast,  Lagan Weir.


J. D’Arcy (2014) ‘Laganside: A Mobile Poetry Experience in Belfast’.  Voice/Presence/Absence conference proceedings, UTS e-press

Cited in publications:

Ouzounian, G.  (2013) Recomposing the City: A Survey of Recent Sound Art in Belfast. Leonardo Music Journal, (23): 47-54  

Hilken, R. (2014) Tone & Noise: the rise of sound art in Belfast. Visual Artists Ireland News Sheet  (November / December 2014)

Belfast City Choir

Belfast City Choir is a series of events that explore the mediation of literature through movement, vocalisation and interactions amongst audience members.  The scores and build on the site-specific linkages between poetry and place in Laganside.  Many poems are reiterated in varying mediations in order to experiment with compositional methods.

Most of the events are produced as walking tours – participative promenade performances that invite the audience to perform texts (poetry, oral histories) under the guidance of verbal notation. The video above shows one segment of Literary Lunchtime – an indoor event that encourages a variety of spoken and sung interactions between audience members with local poetry and immersive audio playback.


2 October 2014 : Lunchtime concert series, Sonic Lab, Belfast.

26 March 2014 Literary Lunchtime series, Ulster Hall, Belfast.

18 January 2014 : Secret Cabaret.  Cathedral Quarter ‘Out to Lunch’ Festival, Belfast.

6 November 2013  : On The Move – choral walking tour from Ulster Hall to Open University via Belfast City Hall. Part of OU’s University of the Air Festival.

24 September 2013 : Moving Song – choral walking-tour from St Anne’s Cathedral to Writer’s Square via Hill St., High St., and North St. during Culture Night, Belfast. 

9 May 2013 : Intercultural Platform Annual General MeetingDonegal County Council, Letterkenny.

Presented at conference:

D’Arcy, J. (2015) ‘Moving Song: Improvising Local Literature in Belfast’. Sonorities Symposium, Queen’s University Belfast.

Tolka Chorus

Tolka Chorus

Tolka Chorus invited residents of County Meath and County Dublin to participate in a series of choral workshops at the river Tolka.  Building on the compositional methods devised for Belfast City Choir, the workshops explored a range of musical strategies for listening, composing, performing and improvising. During the workshops based at Mulhuddart Community Centre, participants used their voices to recreate the sounds of the river, its communities and its localities.

Participants were led through a collaborative process to research and curate local history and literature into lyrics for their own musical compositions. Together they developed their own methods of vocal improvisation and verbal notation to produce a group performance based on an imagined journey along the river Tolka.

The above video shows the animated score projected at the time of a live performance by Tolka Chorus. The soundtrack to this film is a montage of performances during workshops and rehearsals.

Additional documentation can be found at the Tolka Nights homepage.

Tolka Chorus was part of Tolka Nights – a large scale public art project commissioned under the Per Cent for Art Scheme relating to the creation of flood defence systems on the River Tolka in catchment areas across Dublin, Fingal, and Meath. This commission was supported by the Office of Public Works (OPW), Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, Meath County Council, and Create.


11 September 2015 : Tolka Nights. Tolka Valley Park, Dublin.


(Forthcoming 2017) Green, M. & D’Arcy, J. ‘Recalling the River: The River Soundscape in the Site-specific and Social Practice of Tolka’. Invisible Places: Sound, Urbanism and Sense of Place, Azores.

Presented at conference:

Anderson, S., D’Arcy, J., Green, M.  Guy, J., McIvor, C. & Sloan, S. (2015) ‘Tolka Nights’. Create Collaborative Networking Day, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

Cited in publications:

Laws, J. (2015) ‘Moody River’ in Visual Artists Ireland News Sheet (November/December 2015).

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