The Art of Sound, Caboolture

Going behind the scenes
 Brendan Smith

The third edition of The Art of Sound will be launched in Caboolture on 19 October 2013. The following is a chronicle of the days leading up to the opening, by Project Coordinator Brendan Smith.

Friday 18 October
The Art of Sound opens in Caboolture on 19 October 2013.

This has been the smoothest install so far of our three exhibitions – clearly we’ve learned a thing or two in the last two editions, and a very experienced and efficient team of techs sure helped. At the end of Thursday, all 12 domes and the ultrasonic speaker had been hung, sensors and media players secured, and most the artworks were also in place – including our iconic lead artwork, Kath Shillam’s Ant, suspended carefully from the ceiling and looking very much a giant insect on the prowl!


Yesterday, James Hurley spent the afternoon testing each of the dome and sensor units, making sure sounds triggered easily and played as expected, and gently adjusting volume and tone so that the different recordings and sounds in different parts of the gallery worked with one another acoustically and don’t compete with each other in the gallery space. The ‘panic room’ in the Media Gallery slowly came together, with some of the Moreton Bay Regional Art Collection’s strangest and more unusual works on display, to the soundtrack of The Skyhooks’ Horror Movie. It promises to be an exhibition highlight.

It’s always nice at this point to wander thought the gallery, tidying or tweaking and hearing different sounds and voices wafting through the spaces, especially as each gallery and exhibition is different – crickets and birds mixing gently with didgeridoo, Billie Peach (the demonic 1930s budgie) chattering alongside Joy King’s delightful rendition of the Aeroplane Jelly jingle… and an anonymous young 1960s Australian boy’s description of his favourite north coast surf beaches as The Atlantics’ Bombora guitars and drums provide the ultimate surfie backdrop.

Today will be a day of tweaking, tidying and checking – labels put up, checking sensor placement and final adjustments to volume and sensor sensitivity, all in prep for the official opening and curators forum tomorrow. Delightfully, many of the local artists whose work is part of the exhibition will join us tomorrow for the event. It will be fascinating to see and hear what they make of the exhibition and the sounds that have been curated and can be heard alongside their works.

Thursday 17 October

A gorgeous day dawned in Bribie Island-Caboolture this morning, the second day of The Art of Sound install at Caboolture Regional Art Gallery, Queensland. Yesterday was huge and went very smoothly – most of the dome speakers have been hung by the efficient tech and AV team here. Sounds of experimental jazz, crickets, flutes and demonic budgies began floating through the gallery space, much to the delight of the install team. Other sounds included the beep and buzz of the scissor lift taking the electricians up 10+ metres into the ceiling cavity to mount the domes and provide power. Hundreds of metres of speaker and power cable have been run across the network of wall and lighting tracks above the gallery to ensure sound can be delivered adjacent to the artworks curated for the exhibition.

Today will see the last of the domes hung and the innovative ultrasonic speaker mounted, waiting to turn a collection of ceramic bowls into speakers themselves. It will also see the creation of the ‘panic room’ in the media gallery – five or more of the Moreton Bay Regional Art Collection’s stranger and more visually disturbing works, suitably accompanied by The Skyhook’s Horror Movie! Can’t wait!

It’s great to finally see all the artworks for the exhibition in person – up till now, we’ve only seen thumbnails on a screen… many are much bigger (and a few, much smaller!) than I realised, and there’s always something to be found you never knew was there…

There also a few interviews in the next few days, leading up to the exhibition opening of Saturday 19 October, to chat about and explain the exhibition and the ideas behind it – today on Caboolture’s 101.5FM and tomorrow on ABC Brisbane with Kelly Higgins-Devine. Tune in and hear about The Art of Sound Caboolture.

On Saturday, we’ll be joined by the NFSA’s CEO Michael Loebenstein and Sound Curator Tessa Elief, for the curators forum and official opening. Many of the visual artists whose work has been chosen for the exhibition are coming along. Come and join us, share a glass of wine and check out the exhibition.

Wednesday 16 October

Yesterday, intrepid sound designer and consultant James Hurley (UTS) and I set out for a third time to create a new immersive The Art of Sound exhibition – this time, in Caboolture, Queensland.

The innovative sound equipment – unusual overhanging ‘dome’ speakers, tiny playback boards/media players and radar sensors, first used in Grafton, NSW then on the other side of the country in Margaret River, WA – has successfully travelled back east and was unpacked yesterday. Despite some rough times in WA – flood waters, infestations – most of the equipment survived unscathed.
Installing The Art of Sound in Caboolture

The newly painted Caboolture Regional Art Gallery is a blank canvas, so to speak, with the artworks selected for the new The Art of Sound exhibition retrieved from the art store and ready for hanging. This includes the metal sculpture Ant by Kath Shillam, and some very spooky and unnerving works for the darkened media gallery or ‘panic room’!

New sounds or recordings selected for this exhibition from the NFSA’s palette include ‘Authentic Celestial Music’ by The Dirty Three and ‘Horror Movie’ by Skyhooks (which will accompany the disturbing works in the media gallery).

Today, James will be working with local electricians and audio staff to begin the process of installing the sound domes and other equipment into the gallery, as the gallery staff begin hanging the selected works. Here’s to a smooth installation, official opening and an intriguing forum with the minds behind the exhibition this Saturday 19 October, kicking off at the Caboolture Regional Art Gallery from midday.