Lonely Planet Writer

An artist is hosting installations in some of Ireland’s most well-known caves this summer

An Irish visual artist is embarking on a series of immersive audio installations that aim to explore the processes of human thought. He’s opted for unusual settings; some of Ireland’s most famous caves. From July to September, Alan James Burns’ project, ‘Entirely Hollow Aside From the Dark’ is travelling the length and breadth of the country, appearing in five well-known underground chambers. “Caves”, says Alan, “are ancient natural auditoriums, carved into the underbelly of Ireland’s countryside.”

Entirely hollow aside from the dark, Rocky Bay Beach, Co Cork
Entirely hollow aside from the dark, Rocky Bay Beach, Co Cork.  Image by: Alan James Burns

“We all too often talk about what we think, and rarely about how we think. The aural mind is full of thoughts darting around, hard to follow, disconcerting at times. This artwork presents the thoughts of a character moving from audio speaker to speaker, through the natural environment of a cave, achieving a relatable parallel to these processes of the human mind.” The experience will be incredibly immersive for the viewer, both visually and aurally. The project is a collaboration between Alan, writer Sue Rainsford and sound editor Ian Dunphy. “It’s a psycho-acoustic sound event”, he explains. “The aim is to create a visceral experience of journeying into someone’s inner dialogue, by using cutting-edge 3D audio.”

The artist Alan James Burns inside the Aillwee Caves in Co Clare.
The visual artist Alan James Burns inside the Aillwee Caves in Co Clare. Image by Alan James Burns

“Using the cave as a physical metaphor for the brain, the cavern personifies the mind of a person questioning their reality, wherein an audible inner dialogue and choreographed sounds echo the character’s thoughts, memories and consciousness. In the darkness, this psycho-acoustic work unfolds and a symphony of sounds shifts around the cave.”

Inside the Kesh Caves in County Sligo.
Inside the Kesh Caves in County Sligo. Image by Alan James Burns

Alan’s immersive artwork will begin in the Caves of Keash in Sligo on the west coast (July 27, 28, 29), before moving to Lickhill Cave in Skibbereen, West Cork (August 2, 3). He’ll then head to the haunting Burren for an installation in Aillwee Cave (August 24, 25), moving on to the capital, Dublin’s Smuggler’s Cave (September 10, 11, 12, 13). Finally, he’ll travel to Northern Ireland for one day, where his artwork will appear in Fermanagh’s Pollnagollum Cave Boho Waterfall.