Pause Button Portraits



A series of short audio works based around the everyday domestic environment of people’s homes. Volunteers who engage in the process are asked to talk about their living quarters and take part in a rapid recording session of anything and everything that makes a sound within their home. The recorder is set to record pause mode and snippets of sound are recorded one after the other in quick succession creating an instant linear sound collage unique to each home. It could be thought of as the audio equivalent of an in-camera edit using the pause button as an immediate editing tool. Relinquishing control in this way encourages rapid on the spot decisions, always trying to think one step ahead about what sound will follow on from the next and how they will all work together. Participants are encouraged to seek out and suggest sounds that interest them. This audio exploration of the home almost always leads to surprises and the discovery of something new about the sound environment that they inhabit day-in day-out. The informal interviews are then layered with the sounds with only minimal editing after the fact.

It is hoped that eventually this expanding collection of recordings will be gathered together in an on-line archive that anyone can contribute to by creating and uploading their own portraits.


Pause button portraits have been commissioned by Modern Art Oxford for their art in Rosehill project in 2009 and by Heart of Efford Community Partnership for community radio station, Efford FM, Plymouth in 2010.

This pause button portrait was made with Eileen Tripp at her home on the Rosehill estate, Oxford shortly before it was demolished.


© MMXIV Mark Vernon: All rights reserved