An audio installation, You Are Hear takes over the lobby of Harry Seidler’s iconic Australia Square building on Friday November 7.
The intricate microtonal sound environment is being composed based on a geometric analysis of the circular ceiling.
You Are Hear is a work of aural architecture: it is indoor orienteering for the ears. The sonic environment of Australia Square’s tower lobby is microtonally rendered by detailed geometric analysis of the high curvilinear ceiling. 20 discreet, intersecting audio zones corresponding to Seidler/Nervi’s 20 ribbed, radial segments are composed with precise reference to the geometry of the soffit structure, and distributed around the outer edge of the ground-level circuit in a modular array of 20 tuned speakers handmade by the artists.
The spatial approach is a sensory enactment of subjectivity in architecture. As you move around the doughnut-shaped foyer, you are hearing your precise geolocation within resonating space; tones and rhythms will advance and retreat depending on your ambulation; each point will sound like no other spatial point within the foyer; you are here.
As a formal experiment in sonic dispersion drawing a direct line from Kandinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg and Xenakis to Steve Reich and Max Neuhaus, You Are Hear works against traditional presentation of musical scores wherein patrons receive a work unfolded in time and anchored in singular space. This work is experienced by exploration. The entire cubic space is zinging and alive[i]. Each speaker’s unique cluster of tones is temporally variant, phasing to create an ever-evolving performance, and the mobile audience ‘play the gradient’. The piece has the potential for time-without-end, or more accurately time-with-building’s-end. On the cyclic harmonic–temporal–spatial map, you are hear.
[i] Comparison can be drawn to undersea animals geolocating via sonic radar.
Amanda Cole is a composer of microtonal instrumental and electronic New Music. She has been commissioned, performed and recorded by Kroumata (Sweden 2009), ISCM Festival (NYC 2010), Ensemble Offspring (Sydney Opera House 2011), Synergy Percussion (Casula Powerhouse 2012) and MCA (Sydney 2013). Amanda was a finalist in the 2010 Blake Prize for Twitter Hymn Book, and was recently awarded an Australia Council Creative Arts Fellowship. amandacolemusic.com
Lindsay Webb is an architect and media artist with a special interest in aural phenomena in the built environment. His latest interdisciplinary collaborative work is Cathode Ray Trio (2014) for analogue electrical voltage and dancer.