7: Art & About proposal

Taking the research that I have already completed this year into account, Alex Davies and myself decided to put together a proposal for Art and About public artwork in Sydney for 2019. I wanted to add this in here as it’s relevant to the work I’m currently developing as part of honours. My research will provide the basis for this project if it does go ahead. If we are selected for this project, it will be such a great pathway for the work. Providing funding to further develop the research futher in a public space.

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Overview

Sound Pool is a collaborative project between artists Alex Davies and Sara Retallick. Developed specifically for Art & About and presented in one of the City of Sydney’s public pools, Sound Pool will transform a familiar public space into a vast underwater sound field where participants can interact, be immersed and compose their own evolving experiences. With the aim of transforming a familiar experience for frequent swimmers and sparking curiosity for new visitors, Sound Pool embodies wonder and the unexpected - bringing art into the everyday through playful and participatory means.

Creative approach

Inspired by the great diversity of the City’s physical and social geography, sound recordings taken in key locations will form the foundation of a playful interactive sound composition. Sound Pool’s sonic exploration of place will reflect the City’s diverse landscape - ranging from Sydney Harbour to urban centres such as Martin Place and residential hubs.

The 24-channel interactive underwater sound installation will evolve over the duration of Art & About. By utilising a series of sensors situated within the pool’s grounds, movement and audio generated by people will initiate real-time changes to the sound composition below the water’s surface. The work will be dynamic and ever-changing, resulting in a constantly evolving and varied experience during repeat visits.

Audience engagement/experience

By presenting an immersive art experience in the context of a such a well-used recreational space, Sound Pool will engage local audiences who may not otherwise have direct contact with art installations of this nature. The project is designed to enhance the existing experience for frequent pool visitors - someone going about their routine swimming laps will encounter a surprising, wondrous alternate reality.

Upon sliding under the water, participants will be submerged in a rich, alternate sonic reality. Like a portal, the sound composition will transport listeners, and present unique experience of sounds not heard in an aquatic setting.

Sound Pool’s complex distributed sound field enables participants to create their own unique personalised listening experience as they move throughout the water. Through this exploratory mode of interaction participants have the agency to control their personalised composition as they explore the vast underwater sound field.

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Possible sites and installation

Two possible of the City’s pools have been identified appropriate high-traffic sites for the work. These are Victoria Park Pool and Prince Albert Park Pool. The proposal would however be effective at other pools in the City of Sydney region, such as Andrew (Boy) Charlton and Cook & Phillip Park pool. Sound Pool will launch in February 2019 and will be operational for a period of up to 6 months determined via consultation with The City of Sydney and venue.

The project seamlessly integrates technologies with existing pool infrastructure to provide a non intrusive distributed sound field underwater. Lane ropes will be used to locate compact underwater speakers in a matrix throughout the pool to create a safe and transformative swimming experience that completely immerses the participants. At the same time, no sound will be audible above the water's surface so the project will be be unobtrusive and not create spillover noise for above water neighbours.

Once installed, the playback system will be self contained and require no maintenance or further intervention by staff. The technology used will be designed to run continuously, or may be automatically scheduled to operate at specific times during the day. We will work in consultation with pool management to conduct risk assessments and ensure the installation complies with environmental health and safety guidelines.

Calibre of the artistic team

The artistic team are recognised as leaders in the field and have more than two decades of experience in the successful development and presentation of robust, large-scale and technologically sophisticated artworks that have been widely exhibited nationally and internationally.

The proposal draws upon our experience of successfully presenting large-scale site responsive underwater sound installations at Ushaka Marine World and South Beach pools in in Durban, South Africa during the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) in 2018.

The artist team will also be available to run a workshop for young people to learn about sound recording and presentation by experimenting with underwater microphones and speakers. This program takes advantage of the pool as a place of learning and skills development.