Tom Hungerford, artist-in-residence at CULTURE AT WORK is an artist who works with sound. His art+science residency project transforms the Accelerator gallery into an interactive acoustic installation. The exhibition explores his interest in psychoacoustics (the perception of sound) and a life-long fascination with echoes, emanating from childhood. It also embodies Tom’s overarching interest in bigger issues – in existential acuity – to re-frame and sharpen our understanding of our ‘place in space’. Tom has been exploring the site over several weeks. Scientific insight has been provided by Dr Densil Cabrera, Director of the Acoustic Lab, Faculty of Architecture t University of Sydney. Ivana Jirasek has curated the project and exhibition as part of the residency program at CULTURE AT WORK in June 2015.
The human ear is not just a receiver of sound but a complex auditory spatial awareness system. Your ability to hear informs you of the size and material qualities of a space. The time it takes for sounds to reflect off surfaces and reverberate, changes in different environments whether interior, exterior, man-made or organic. All these peculiar nuances of the individual acoustic properties of different spaces gives a wealth of perceptual information. As part of Culture at Work’s emerging artist residency program I have created an interactive audio installation that attempts to transport a viewer’s auditory spatial senses out of the ‘background-static’ of everyday experience and into their conscious awareness. Using the existing gallery space, a series of hidden contact microphones have been placed strategically under the floorboards. These microphones amplify the viewer-generated sounds of footsteps as well as the faint creaking sounds unique to the heritage vintage of the timber boards. The sounds are then manipulated and processed via digital audio-effects software. As a viewer physically moves through the gallery space, they hear their footsteps, but the sound of each step is altered in unusual ways. Some footsteps take on a cavernous echo, while others move in and out of phase. This spacious reverberant quality of the sound is something that would occur naturally in a much larger interior space, or possibly in an underground cave. The viewer experiences an odd dislocation between their auditory and visual senses, and is consciously forced to not only ‘see space’ but ‘hear space’. Tom Hungerford 2015.