Archive for July, 2012

Revoicing the Striated Soundscape is a sound installation commissioned by the City of Melbourne (COM) as part of the 2012 Public Art Program. Public information provided by COM regarding the artwork can be found here. An article focusing on Public Art in Melbourne in the Age Newspaper wrote extensively about Revoicing the Striated Soundscape. I also want to throw in a couple of extra points using my blog, for those who are planning on checking out the installation.

Installation site: unnamed laneway behind RMIT bookshop, Little Latrobe St.

I am calling this an invisible installation, as the four air-conditioning units bolted to the wall are easily mistaken for permanent features that house actual air conditioners. It is the intention for this impression to emerge, as it reflects the everyday experience of urban dwellers who pass a multitude of air-conditioners everyday. The visual aspect of these machines are ignored as much as the consistent drones of these machines are blocked out. It is only when the unusual sounds emitted by these four machines are perceived that the air-conditioning units come into focus. I have seen people looking for the sound source, sometimes refusing to believe that it could come from the air-conditioners. As such the artwork plays with perceptions of the everyday.

All the sounds are recorded in the laneway itself. So the installation knits into the existing soundscape such that the border between installation and soundscape is uncertain. The sounds have been composed using a multi-speaker system so sounds at times move through the space from one side of the laneway to the other. If you do go down stand in the centre of the four air-cons. This is the “sweet spot” to perceive maximum movement. Also standing under each individual air-con can be an interesting aural shift as you will receive the direct sound from the accompanying speaker.

This is a work that requires some time and immersive listening to appreciate. In fact multiple visits are ideal. It was designed so that people who walk through the space daily will get a slightly different experience each time. There are eight compositions totaling 90 minutes played on a permanent loop, though the loop is random; that is all eight compositions play before the loop starts again, but each loop will play the compositions in a different order. Some compositions are quite jarring such as the sounds of bins being dragged around, or doors opening and closing. Others are immersive, referencing wind and water sounds. Some others are rhythmic with sounds fully processed or just raw air-con sounds dancing around the space. So if you have the time, a full loop is best! The installation is active seven days a week from 10am – 10pm, and will be in place till late November.


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