Caitlin Shepherd’s new work ‘Discord’ at Paths to Utopia


“Stories of home from the have and the have nots” 
A 30 minute immersive sound experience exploring personal stories of home and security in the UK housing market.

Discord 1

“Hello. Welcome to the Discord property viewing.”

And so it starts. I find myself stood with two other people in a porch, holding a bundle of keys, a viewing schedule and an understanding that I am on time for my viewing.

As the introduction flows smoothly over us we are invited to step through the front door. As soon as we do this I am met by aggressive rhythmic and unrelenting music, and my eyes become accustomed to the dark space that we are walking in. It appears that we are in a corridor. I can see a Red door in front of me, that is locked, and I am being told in amongst the glaring music and encompassing darkness to make my way to the first property. This is harder than it sounds as I’ve forgotten which property I’m meant to go to, and I’m barely registering that I still have a bundle of keys to clutch.

I make my way through the narrow and dark corridor to a Black door with No1 on the front in Gold lettering. In amongst the adrenaline and the stress I manage to unlock the door, and take mild relief at the room that I walk into. Opulent wallpaper, lavish curtains, low lighting and a drinks cabinet. I am viewing a Fritzrovian Georgian townhouse. Darling. The smell lingers, and there is a sense of nostalgia, a sense of culture and the orient. I walk towards the headset and put it on…

Discord 1  Appleton Crescent


In attempt to protect the experience I will not divulge more. Discord is an immersive sound installation for three people at a time. It navigates complex territory in it’s critique of the dominant owner occupancy housing trend in the UK, and it’s equal critique of unaffordable and unregulated private rental markets, hand in hand with the rapid strangulation of affordable social housing.

At the same time, it explores the ethnography, psychology and feeling of home.

Juxtaposing an intense, relentless and oppressive sound environment through the corridor of oppression, alongside three intimate living rooms, where you are invited to listen to different stories of home from across the class spectrum; summons a reflection on the urgency to survive, pay rent, get on the housing ladder, or simply not be in the Red at the end of the month, against more complex, psychological and nuanced understandings of home.

What home feels like, where it is found and it’s role in a broader society.

It is also an enquiry into the embodied environment, into a multi sensory realm. It is an artwork that demands the viewer to embody the idea, to feel it, and to be shaped by it, and at times oppressed.

In the Discord experience sound and embodiment walk hand in hand, in terms of creating a narrative structure for participants to walk through, but also to step into; to become immersed within. As the experience takes you deeper into the free market, you are asked to bid on your dream home….and the lingering question is; what sort of home and indeed, housing economy is it that I really want?


Discord 14 Fern View

Discord 12 Lee Way

Discord is a multi sensory sound installation conceived by artist Caitlin Shepherd, researcher James Wood and artist Victoria Johnson. As part of the installation Shepherd is working in collaboration with acclaimed music producer Typesun, architect Tabitha Pope, technologist Tarim, carpenter Ben Dusserre Robinson, lighting designers Bailes &Light and engineer Dan Halahan. Together they are working to create a powerful soundscape around the theme of housing, in which composers Elise Plans and Matthias Kispert also feature.

Shepherd explains:

Discord is a project that uses the medium of sound installation art to invite audiences to reconsider their own personal values and choices in relation to the pursuit of housing security. It aims to link personal choice to political power structures, inviting individuals to reflect the true cost of home ownership. Discord taps into a major problem of our time; wide-spread unaffordability within the private rental and owner occupant market. Through  this installation, audiences are invited to embody the issue and ask, what can be done.’

Wood said:

‘The home is more than the housing tenure used to occupy it; it is a space of personal identification, freedom, and security. In Britain the home has become increasingly important as a financial asset, which has established a huge demand for private ownership. Discord looks to show how different people relate to the space of the home in different ways, with the aim of showing that it is the space of the home that is important, not the legal status of the tenure or the financial gains from homeownership.’

Discord is one of nine new works commissioned by King’s Cultural Institute, part of the current exhibition Paths to Utopia. Billed as a “cultural hub“, Paths to Utopia is  a diverse mix of films, installations, talks and research that allows audiences to question what, exactly, Utopia means today. “Utopia is a vast landscape to cover,” says Andy Franzkowiak, creative producer of the exhibition. “It has been attempted thousands of times via fact and fiction and, though coined by Thomas more 500 years ago, cultures have been fascinated by the idea for millennia.We hope that visitors will add their own ideas, discover their own paths and find moments of Utopia in their own eventful journeys.”

Discord is free, but must be booked in advance. The installation is for three people at a time and lasts for approximately 45 minutes. It is open Wednesday – Sunday between 23 August and 2 October.

Watch Caitlin Shepherd,  Luke Harney (Typesun) and Neil Denny in Conversation, hosted by Little Atoms and This is Tomorrow.

Discord. Paths to Utopia. Somerset House. #Utopia2016

Funded by the Arts Council England.

Sponsored by Sanderson & Co and Mini Rig


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