wk 5 - Slipstream Proposal - ISEA 2018

I've just found out that a collaborative work that Alex Davies and myself pitched for ISEA 2018 in South Africa has been accepted. This means I'll be travelling in Durban in June to make this work. We are creating a site responsive underwater sound composition. The work will be responding to issues of drought in South Africa, along with other socio-political issues regarding water in that area. 

This work will be integrated into my research this semester, as I further investigate listening in different environments, site-responsive work, fieldwork and collaboration. 


Here is our application: 

Title: Slipstream by Sara Retallick and Alex Davies

Short Abstract:

Slipstream Is a multichannel sound composition to be experienced by participants in a unique embodied manner; underwater via submerged speaker arrays and bone conduction transducer technologies. Sound materials collected from Durban and surrounds will be utilised to create a site specific composition that considers the socio-political, economic and recreational importance of water for a community living in a humid sub-tropical climate.

Thematic statement, detailing how the event will relate to its surroundings, and how it reaches out to general public:

The project is an underwater multichannel sound installation that will be developed specifically for ISEA2018 in Durban. The artists will arrive in South Africa 2 weeks prior to ISEA for a residency and production period. During this time, sound materials from various significant water sites around Durban will be collected in the form of ecological data, field recordings, hydrophone recordings, synthesis and site-responsive compositions. These site-specific elements will form the foundation of the work. The compositional process will emphasis the socio-political, economic and recreational importance of water for a community living in a humid sub-tropical climate. Locations include, but are not exclusive to Hazelmere Dam, the Umengi River and the Indian Ocean. Slipstream will also examine issues of drought in South Africa, and engage with relevant local histories and issues concerning weather patterns and low rainfall throughout the country.

This work will be presented in a public pool which will provide a transformative experience of public space, and have the capacity to reach wider local audiences through attention to accessibility and inclusivity. Presenting an immersive art experience in this context will enable access to a demographic of the local population who may not otherwise experience installations of this nature. Creating an inclusive work and interacting with the general public, Slipstream will bring art into the everyday ritual through playful and participatory means. The venue will ensure that the work not only caters for ISEA attendees, but the population of Durban at large.

Venue/location preference (if known), OR, venue/location requirements and constraints:

We have identified a number of different presentation venues that at this initial scoping stage. These include Kings Park Pool, Sports Centre | Durban University of Technology and Brighton Beach Tidal Pool. In total, there are at present over 12 possible presentation venues in the region of ISEA Durban that we have identified as being appropriate for the presentation of the work in terms of infrastructure and proximity to the festival. We will liaise with these venues as the project proceeds to establish partnerships for presentation of the work during the festival period.

Time of day and date preference (if known), OR, time of day and date requirements and constraints:

As the work will likely be presented at a public pool, the operational hours of the work would be aligned with the opening hours of the venue. In addition to these hours, the work could have an ISEA launch outside of these times.

Technical and logistic requirements:

The project will need one volunteer attendant provided by ISEA to supply individual participants with the bone conduction audio headsets. 10 of these headsets will be available for swimmers. Underwater speakers will be utilised to present the broader composition beneath the water surface. These will be installed on site and designed to operate on a timer automatically. The whole installation will be self-managing from a technical standpoint in this respect. As the composition will only be audible when a participant is submerged underwater, it will be unobtrusive and not interfere with the general operation of the venue. A variation of the composition may be experienced by a large number of participants without the intimate bone conduction technology via the submerged speakers so the work can potentially cater from between 1 and 100’s of participants at a given time. All presentation hardware required for staging the work will be provided by the artists. The project will require structural support from ISEA International to help facilitate an appropriate venue for the presentation of this work.

Proposer and/or key participants’ bios or Cvs

Alex Davies and Sara Retallick are both Australian artists who work with sound and mixed media.  After recently attending Sonic Mmabolela (a two week artist residency situated along the Limpopo River in South Africa’s north, led by sound artist Francisco Lopez), these collaborators established the foundations to create a new, underwater sound installation for ISEA 2018 in Durban. Sonic Mmabolela gave these artists unique and intimate access to the county's landscape and water environments, and corresponding sonic materials. Building on this listening and recording workshop, they will create a site-responsive underwater sound installation using materials drawn from in, and around Durban.

Sara Retallick is a Melbourne based artist who makes socially-engaged, site-specific work integrating sound, video projection, photography and performance. Retallick’s current practice explores intersections between Australia’s sonic and visual landscapes and the country’s complex colonial histories.  She is actively engaged in Melbourne’s visual art and sound communities, and a founding member of CLIP collective - regularly curating shows and performances. In 2017 she completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (Sound) at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University with high distinction, she was awarded the Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship to take part in Sonic Mmabolela artist residency in South Africa, and most recently exhibited at Bus Projects in Melbourne. Her live audiovisual project Golden Syrup debuted at the Museum of Old and New Art’s annual winter festival Dark MOFO, Hobart, in 2016.  Sara’s practice has been financially supported by Creative Victoria, NAVA and Arts Victoria.

Alex Davies is an award winning Australian media artist whose practice spans a diverse range of media and experiments with interaction, technology, perception, mixed reality and illusion. In 2013 he was awarded a PhD in Media Arts at the UNSW College of Fine Arts examining the relationship between the techniques of stage magic and the creation of illusion in media arts. He is a Scientia Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Media Arts at UNSW Australia Art & Design, and has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally including Sydney Festival, European Capital of Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, ISEA 2004 and 2013, Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney. He is the recipient of Qantas Foundation Contemporary Australian Art Award, UNSW Scientia Fellowship, Creative Australia Fellowship and has received numerous grants from the Australia Council’s Inter-Arts, Music, Visual Arts, and New Media Boards.