Sunday 20 February 2011

Wet Sounds UK Tour 2011

Wet Sounds is an underwater sound art gallery - a deep listening experience

Touring swimming pools, it presents listening sessions to a floating and diving audience in the water. The participants are fully immersed in sound. Free to move weightlessly in the sound space. Read Press Release...

I found the experience to be quite extraordinary, as you were able to navigate 'hot spots' of sound underwater where I imagine, due to the shape of the swimming pool and different depths of water, the sound would sound much louder and all encompassing. Seeing as the water actually enters your ear and is in direct contact with your ear drum the sensation is that you are hearing the sounds in much the same way as when you might speak for example, therefore it is quite a bizzare experience when there are vocals played through the speakers, which actually feel like they are much closer.

Of course this is not the first time where a swimming pool has been used as means by which to exhibit sound works. Max Neuhaus was experimenting with this idea as early as 1971, in his series water whistle which is described by the artist here:

"The sound sources were hydraulic: a network of hoses fed water through a configuration of whistle-like devices, each enclosed in a reflector. The water pressure in the hoses caused them to flex constantly, reorienting each sound source independently. This formed a shifting sound texture which varied according to the listener's position in the pool. "

Listeners at Water Whistle III, St. Paul YMCA, 1972

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