Final Proposal

The design team took three broad approaches to sound production for the artwork. The first was the use of transducers to vibrate two large metal plates. The second was the use of a stereo pair of electroacoustic speakers to generate sounds in the space. Thirdly, it was hoped in combination that these sounds will create a soundmark that could produce meaning for the community.

The soundmark term is a useful way to think of the possibility of sounds to create sites of community significance. The obvious example is the church bell that summons the community to significant events. In our secular times, finding a soundmark in new suburban environments is a significant challenge. The soundmark in this case is embedded in the two main events expressed by the ‘other’ at dawn and dusk. These are short-lived sonic events that will play sound in relation to the memories collected by the artwork via its accumulated memories.

Designing a soundmark is arguably impossible, given that meaning cannot be imposed on a community; rather, it should emerge in some way through community processes. To achieve this the design team turned to ethnography as a means to gather sonic material with which the artwork might create an evolving soundmark. Over a three week period a team of sound artists individually combed the suburb collecting the community-reported sounds with field recording equipment. It was considered that these sounds would form the collective memory of the artwork; literally, given that the recordings would be an historical artefact expressed by the artwork for its duration. In combination with the transducers, the sounds will be released into the atmosphere in varying configurations in relationship to the types of interactions expressed by the community.

In an earlier council presentation the concept of sympathetic frequencies was explored. A steel plate was vibrated with a transducer with low frequencies, the higher harmonics of which were played electro-acoustically through a tone-generated sounding object placed on top of the plate. Upon standing on the plate, the body both vibrated and heard sounds at consistent frequencies. In combination, all participants reported a strong sense of harmony between the haptic and the aural. It was decided that the emergent soundmark should include a tonal expression at sympathetic frequencies with the vibrating plates, as explored in these prior experimentations. In the final design the sonic ethnography was interspersed within this expressive moment: a crescendo of tones and vibrations that carry the memories of site as played back by the interactive artwork.


Sound and Vibration