Technology links sound above and below waterline
A sonic sea level which immerses audiences beneath the ocean waves – without getting wet – will be unveiled at the launch of a major new cultural festival celebrating the River Tamar.
Fathom, a new sonic artwork by Plymouth University media arts specialists Jane Grant and John Matthias, will use cutting-edge technology to create this artificial surface 6ft above the floor of a 17th-century Royal Navy victualling yard.
Loudspeaker technology company Martin Audio has supplied equipment which will transmit a combination of live and recorded sounds, enabling visitors to walk around and hear the sounds below the surface of the estuary. They will also be able to lift their heads above the 6ft fathom mark to hear the sounds above the water.
The commission is the centrepiece of a public event to launch It's All About the River, a year-long project to celebrate the historical, cultural and industrial importance of the River Tamar, which forms the border between Devon and Cornwall.
Artist Jane Grant and musician and composer John Matthias, who won the PRS Foundation's New Music Award in 2008 for their celebrated work The Fragmented Orchestra, pictured below, say their new collaboration will create an immersive sonic experience where the volume of one material – water – meets another: air.
"The changeability of the interaction of these two materials will bring together the atmospheric and the submarine, lived human spaces, temporal and ethereal," they say.
The launch event takes place in the Old Factory Cooperage, in Plymouth's Royal William Yard, tomorrow and Sunday from 12-8pm, as part of the Ocean City Festival.
Fathom is the second commission of the River Tamar Project, following the successful premiere of the work Ghost by Adam Chodzko, with the support of Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University and the Arts Council England.
The River Tamar Project will culminate in the staging of an international film festival along the banks of the river in 2014, which will commission and schedule a programme of contemporary and historic film and video that seeks to bring awareness of the waterway in the context of major rivers throughout the world.
Artists, and the individual river communities, will be encouraged to create a range of striking works and thought-provoking experiences.