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The Sea Wailing (2002)

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Outdoor Installation, Temporary Installation and Environmentally Sensitive Installation
Location: Elliston, South Australia, Australia
By Cameron Robbins and John Turpie. Installed as part of Hearing Place.

The Sea Wailing by Cameron Robbins and John Turpie was a 7-minute film documenting a sound work installed at Elliston, coastal South Australia. The project responded to the site of an Aboriginal massacre at Elliston, where during the settler wars in the 1840s, scores of children, women and men were forced off the cliffs. The place bears the stigma of the 'Elliston Incident' and this art project was one of a series (Sculpture on the Cliffs) designed to try to redress some of the bad feeling. The limestone cliffs on the sea there are riddled with holes, which seem to breathe as the waves heave to and fro. For our project, the air pressure from some of these blowholes was ducted into a set of tuned organ pipes, which played a moaning lament in response to the ocean movement.

Another Incident

During the course of the project, an unusual thing happened. After idyllic calm conditions for the installation of the pipes and some sound recording, the waves suddenly rose, drenching me and blowing the pipes out of their holes. For a 24-hour period, the waves averaged a height of 31 foot. The organ pipes were washed up into rockpool and crevices, and the industrial steel/PVC ducting completely shredded. I filmed and photographed this phenomenon.

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Prepared by: Iain Mott
Created: 6 August 2003
Modified: 11 November 2003

Published by The University of Melbourne
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: i.mott@unimelb.edu.au
Prepared by: Acknowledgements
Updated: 18 January 2007

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