Oh Dear Me

NEoN Digital Arts Festival at West Ward Works and Verdant Works, Dundee, Scotland
2016 November 12

Oh Dear Me Knifeandfork created Oh Dear Me as a commissioned work for NEoN (North East of North) in Scotland. In this performance, the public is invited to chat through a distributed hybrid digital/analog musical messaging system that activates the acoustic geography and industrial history of Dundee, Scotland.

A series of musicians are situated along a path winding through the historic jute mills of the Blackness area of Dundee. Visitors are invited to type a message into a computer console at either endpoint of the path, and their words are digitally encoded via fragments of The Jute Mill Song (Oh Dear Me), a folk song written around 1920 by Dundee mill worker and labor activist Mary Brooksbank. The musicians subsequently pass the music to one another by ear until the message is decoded on the opposite terminal. Along the way, the melodies cascading through the city reverberate in urban spaces associated with Dundee's industrial past and connect historical textile production with the contemporary labor of our culture of computation.


Concept, engineering, fabrication, and production
Brian House
Sue Huang
Commissioning organization
NEoN (North East of North) Ltd.
Funding organization
Red Note Ensemble (Ana Romero, Arin Grattidge, Colette Colman, Emily Stokes, Joey O’Neil, Jordan Robertson, Kenny Letham, Marcus Shanks, Rebecca Wilson, Scott Kerr)
Video documentation
Photo documentation
Kathryn Rattray Photography
Special thanks to
Donna Holford-Lovell, Dan Faichney, Ed Broughton, John Harris, Christine Cooper, Anna Murray