Deep Listening Pools, Southbank
This submission is informed by RMITs Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) principles of real and equitable relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture, in particular, the Traditional Custodians of Melbourne. In line with these principles, it is the foundational intent that Aboriginal story holds the central position in the conceptual development and design narrative in this proposal. It is from this basis that an inclusive contemporary story of our shared history and relationship to place will be imagined through an innovative cutting edge work comprising visual and aural sensory experiences capturing and enlivening wayfarers imaginations.
The work will participate in a collaborative narrative building process, creating an extraordinary arts destination through the careful consideration of stakeholder aspirations. Traditional Custodian contribution will be paramount in directing the shape and content realisation in the work.
Once home to ancient waterways and wetlands, Dodd Street in its contemporary form has been a transitory space of movement between VCA, ACCA, the Melbourne Recital Centre and NGV. This Proposal seeks to repurpose the space from a transitory thoroughfare to a destination space with multiple opportunities in immersive embodied experiences for both the casual or the purposeful visitor. The Indigenous concept of dadirri (deep listening, a quiet inner waiting based on respect), has been the primary source of inspiration and foundational thinking for the proposed ‘Deep Listening Pools’ concept.
’Deep Listening Pools’ will be a collection of contemporary storytelling experiences reflecting Traditional Custodian knowledges, practices and story, integrated with shared post-colonial stories and experiences. The ‘pools’ will be representations of the original wetlands ecology and topography of pre-colonial times. At the same time the ‘pools’ will be contemporary vessels for story and connection to place.
The piece will transform pedestrian way-finding into a multi-sensorial embodied wayfaring experience in a coalescence of sound, light and storytelling. Ambient sound and lighting will combine with cymatic imagery to create an alluring and intriguing multi-sensory experience. Sound is made visual, through sacred geometrical images that are created through frequency stimulation of water or sand. The ‘pool’ dishes will be metal and sit on a transducer which is the conductor of the sound frequency. Frequencies are the foundations of Creation. The visitor is exposed to and directly connected to the ever-presence and continuity of Aboriginal Creation.
Each ‘pool’ will offer a different experience. The main ‘pool’ will be the central story and will reflect this in its cymatic pattern, lighting and accompanying storytelling soundscape. Other ‘pools’ will offer public interactivity in the stimulation of cymatic imagery through voice vocalisation or percussive instruments. Another pool may offer a storytelling experience with directional soundscapes of recorded stories. An augmented reality (AR) element for mobile devices will be created to allow for another overlay in the storytelling and place-making process.
Above the network of pools is a catenary lighting system illuminating the pools by night producing a unique nocturnal atmosphere. Subtle lights illuminating the pools will be incorporated into the design. An overhead catenary lighting system will hold directional speakers that enable transmission of stories and songs to specific locations. As visitors walk across the system of pools they will encounter different stories of place or environmental soundscapes that reference the historical acoustics of the site.
A multi-disciplinary team of artists will be led by Aboriginal artist, Vicki Couzens with extensive experience in translating stories of place into contemporary public environments, using sound and listening as a means to convey stories of culture.
Project Team: Ian Nazareth, Charles Anderson, Alexia Pisani, Vicki Couzens, Jeph Neale, Fiona Hillary, Jordan Lacey, Scott Mitchell, Darrin Verhagen, Larissa Hjorth, Rose Lang, Grace McQuilten.