Master Rock is part of a body of research by writer, Maria Fusco. Maria’s first piece of writing for radio, the project was commissioned by Artangel and BBC Radio 4 as part of their £1m initiative, Open, to support site-specific work across the UK.

Along with one other proposal, it was chosen from over 700 submissions by a panel comprising film director Clio Barnard, artist Roger Hiorns, BBC Radio 4's Arts Commissioning Editor Tony Phillips, and Artangel Co-Directors James Lingwood and Michael Morris.

Writing-in-the-field as a research method

Master Rock began with an initial case study engaging with a large, mid-century mural by the artist Elizabeth Falconer, depicting the legendary formation of Loch Awe on the west coast of Scotland.

The mural is sited within the turbine hall of Cruachan Power Station (the world's first reversible pumped storage hydroelectric scheme in Scotland), completed in 1965 and housed within a vast manmade cavern inside the highest mountain in Argyll and Bute.

Through the Open commission, and further funding of £40,000 from Creative Scotland, Master Rock has developed into three interconnected research outputs: a book; a series of site-specific public performances; and two BBC Radio 4 broadcasts in October 2015.

The narrative has been conceived for three voices: Elizabeth Falconer; the ancient granite of Ben Cruachan itself; and John Mulholland, one of the few surviving ‘tunnel tigers’ who blasted through the mountain to hollow out the power station in the early 1960s.

Behind the scenes during the production of Master Rock
Video courtesy of Artangel

Through an Artangel and Radio 4 commission, and further funding of £40,000 from Creative Scotland, Master Rock has developed into three interconnected research outputs: a book; a series of site-specific public performances; and two BBC Radio 4 broadcasts in October 2015.

It-Narratives and Object Oriented Ontology

Formally, Master Rock draws on the structural qualities of 'It-Narratives', first person accounts of things such as coins and quills popular throughout the 18th century.

Theoretically, the research engages with recent work on 'Object Oriented Ontology', specifically non-linear historiography and the abstraction of object relations or things as post-production critique.

The book was published by Artangel and Book Works in 2015 and contains archival photographs of Cruachan, in addition to Maria’s text.

Recorded live inside the Power Station, with sound composed on site by Olivier Pasquet, Master Rock premiered on BBC Radio 4 at 10.15pm on 17th October 2015, and was repeated at 2.15pm on 19th October 2015. 

Maria Fusco is a Chancellor's Fellow and Reader in the School of Art, where she explores the creative crossover between different modalities of production, including fictive, critical and theoretical writing, editing and independent publishing. Maria takes an expansive approach to what writing ‘might be’, and how it may manifest, within a contemporary art context.

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