The installation will consist of a single 44-gallon steel drum in the middle of the exhibition room. Inside of the drum will be large speakers whereby a clear film will be then used and embedded to close off the top of the object. Matter including salt, flowers and other substances will be evident on top of the plastic material, which then will be the subject of varied movements caused by the sound waves and vibrations of the speakers. Distance sensors will be controlled and programmed by an Arduino, which will then be fixed around the drum, affecting the intensity of the audio and tremors depending on the audience’s proximity to and interaction with the artwork.
The concept behind Drum alludes to my own childhood memory of wonderment. I took part experiment conducted to detect sound waves, which involved making a model eardrum. Sugar was used to catch the visual affects of sound through the air, caused by clapping from across the room:
“Sound is the transfer of energy in the form of waves through a substance, or medium, such as air, water, or a flexible solid. You can picture sound waves as a series of nudges that cause particles in a medium to bump into one another in successive collisions.”
My continued work aims to build off this notion, arousing and creating a sense of curiosity depicted from my own personal experiences through a material and electronic structure. The physical components chosen to be a part of the collection upon the clear/plastic material on top of the drum aims to get the audience thinking, about why these specific components are present and what message and story they convey. As they approach the work the ambience and shocks increase which intends to blur the viewers perspective, which requires more time to refocus and interpret each element.
An artwork that I have admired and experienced throughout the subject and development of my idea was one of two installations created by Ian Burns which were evident in the New Romance Contemporary Art (MCA), ‘Circle (2016)’. In this particular work two inflated latex gloves levitate above and around a ring of miniature fans, which are powered in a clockwise motion accordingly to the location of the gloves. For Burns, who lives in New York City, the gloves represent a ‘carnivalesque’ stand-in for human beings; and are used in response to both the Australian news about the treatment of asylum seekers, and police violence against African Americans in the USA. His work aims to evoke curiosity through the reshaping of objects and inverting their traditional uses, creating a sense of magic. I am following this approach whereby I want to bring life to the inanimate rudiments of my work. Burns describes the relationship and interaction between authority and humans whereby I explore the relationship between humans and unforgiving and changing environments through the form of my family’s search for asylum and difficult settings to which they had to adjust to.
The preparation for my artwork began with the sourcing of materials for what I wanted to be a relatively cheap installation. I spray painted the drum and made plastic cover for it, which was easily removable for the sake of convenience at the current stage. The prototype was roughly set up in the corner of the room where the mixer of the large speakers within the drum was evident next to it. I am aware that when the final project is structured it would be more effective to only have the simple drum in the middle of the room, but for the sake of the prototype it was not concealed. An Arduino was recognised as a device that cannot control volume that I was working towards, but my tutor assured methods that can overcome the issue.
The matter placed on the vibrating surface at this stage was salt, representing the ocean, an origami paper boat to represent my refugee family and white flower pedals to represent a new land. The model presented these factors on a constant shaking top caused by a bass driven audio piece that was sourced sourced online. The pace and volume of the sound was at a constant level as no electronic system was hooked to the speakers at this time in development. The cover I created for the steel drum was flimsy and sunk in the centre to some degree which affected the movement of the substance and objects upon it, my tutor suggested an easy fix by applying heat to the edges to ensure a tight and fitted application which will not hinder the movement of the elements. Other suggestions were towards the experimentation of parts evident on top of the drum, flour was proposed to add to the curiosity creating a cloud when disturbed and more articles that represented a stronger Vietnamese heritage (herbs, spices, etc).
After the feedback and ideas towards my project proposal, it was deemed as a successful physical prototype, which therefore can be built upon in the coming weeks. The next step for my artwork is to establish its engagement properties with an audience. I will need to work closely with my colleagues and tutor in laying down the electronic foundation that will create the interactive relationship between the viewers and artwork.