Colston’s Last Journey is an interactive audio project. A sea of interactive audio is layered over the centre of Bristol/UK. It extends all the way along the historic Broadquay from the Colston plinth (where the statue of Edward Colston used to stand) to the other end of Pero’s Bridge (the historic Broad Quay), which is where the Colston statue was flung into the waters of the Bristol Floating Harbour by protestors on 7 June 2020.

To access this audio experience you downlead an app to your smartphone, go to the start of the soundscape at Colston’s plinth in Bristol city centre and Enter The Time Portal.

You are immediately afloat on the interactive audio-ocean: fragments of facts, statements, re-created dialogues, names of captains, slave trade statistics, commentaries from the time etc etc – all taken from or with relevance to Bristol’s involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade – arise out of the liquid depths of the audio-sea and spiral in to you.

The soundscape is interactive: what you hear while afloat on the audio-ocean depends on what you do! Possibilities we are developing, for example, are: stand still – lost voices come swirling in to you; turn round and round on the spot – create your own mix of voices and sounds; move at a brisk rate – one thing will happen; slow down, something else; hold your phone up – hear one voice; down, another. The work uses all of your smartphone’s capabilities.

But it’s even more than that: floating upon the audio-sea and moored along the historic Broad Quay are 7 ‘audio ghost slave ships’. These are the ghosts of real ships which actually sailed from Bristol to the coast of West Africa and then on to the West Indies  in the 17th and 18th centuries. Each of these slave ships represents a different aspect of the trafficking of enslaved Africans. When you come across one , you can board it* and listen in to that particular aspect of the slave trade that ship represents. Then you re-embark on the audio-ocean and continue on your voyage of discovery.

(*metaphorically – what actually happens is that you walk into ‘a soundpool’: the audio-ocean fades down and the audio content particular to that ship fades up. When you ‘disembark’, the sounds of that ship fade away and you are back on the audio-ocean.)

THIS IS A WORK OF SOUNDART, NOT AN HISTORICAL GUIDE

Permission to use data from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade – Database gratefully acknowledged