the megaphone project

artists notes

Notes on The Megaphone Project as a sound artwork.

The Megaphone Project occupies temporary sites in the same way a travelling circus, or other touring performance occupies many different spaces. The difference is that our work, while visually consistent, is aurally unique to each site and time, evoking social and ambient acoustic responses that are specific to each of its varied locations. The persistent form has no permanent sonic identity, other than the acoustic properties of the the megaphone
objects themselves.

The Megaphone Project is a spatial work, with multiple and varying localised sound sources, which at different times might be the voices of people, or the recorded voices of people who were there, or who still are there.

The sense of temporal musical design is written into the varying time delays of recording variable-length samples, which in turn is dependent on an irregular flux and flow public activators of the work, and a variable degree of responsiveness in the recording thresholds that will adjust (through a governing software routine) to the variations in ambient sound levels. The experience with the installation across many Australian cities and towns, is of unique reflections of each day’s sonic landscape, pointed to in a visual sense by the megaphone forms, and in an instrumental sense through the manipulations of those
forms by an engaged public.

From a distance we can see a broad field of visually-sculptural objects, standing quietly from time to time, interrupting the built or persistent landscape. The largely mute landscape is completed only when passers-by form their interactive shapes — in groups, singly, or as soloists performing for the gathered crowd. The field then springs to life, sonically and visually.

Our distant viewpoint also mixes a multi-channel sound work, combining voicings spontaneously contributed to the ambient soundscape, with the random, automatic contributions of the mysterious megaphone voices.

From time to time, the sounds from the megaphones join to become a “choral” instrument that blends to a cohesive sonic whole. The art, and the performance, is made by the passers-by.

The meaning is constructed at each place, in each space, reflecting the shifting relational status of public life.

Our aesthetic is formed by the idea of a democratic and decentralised cultural production. that invites those who encounter it to express themselves gesturally and verbally.