Silent Island

Artists: Luke Hespanhol (Brazil/Australia) / Ollie Bown (United Kingdom/Australia) / Rachel Couper (Australia) / Ivana Kuzmanovska (Australia)

Silent Island is an immersive digital environment, an ‘urban island’, free of noise pollution – yet located in the middle of a busy public space.

Visitors step inside the silent structure of the installation, where it is as if a giant robotic ‘mind’ is listening to the noise of the surrounding public space. Its function is to translate the exterior noise in real-time into light patterns played out in the structure’s interior.

The raw city soundscape is further interpreted and rearranged into increasingly complex visual patterns. Over time, a cumulative visual memory of the exterior urban space emerges from this process and is consolidated as a high-resolution animation projected in the centre of the internal, silent space.

Each night, a new artistic rendering is produced by the digital ‘mind’, reflecting the patterns of noise pollution in the urban space over that time period.

Visitors to the interior of the installation are graced with an unusual, inverted sensorial experience: they can experience the full impact of the urban noise visually, but are deprived of the actual sounds.

This sensorial dissonance turns visitors into the ultimate drivers of the interactive experience: how much silent visualisation of the external noise is actually bearable? How long until someone speaks up and breaks the silence? Or how much noise translated as light patterns can be actually appreciated before someone feels the urge to walk back outside and check what or who is causing it?

The seeming lack of auditory action inside the space highlights the correspondingly  active nature of the outside and proposes a more thoughtful appreciation of the volume, quality and causes of pervasive urban noise.

The installation is also part of the Media Architecture Biennale 2016, which is being held in conjunction with this year’s Vivid Sydney .
 

Country represented by installation: Australia