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Singing Bridges: World Symphony

Go to Gallery Page Singing Bridges: World Symphony
Related EntriesAudio Visual Gallery
Gallery Installation and Sound Sculpture
Installation by Jodi Rose

Singing bridges is a sonic sculpture, created by amplifying and recording stay-cabled and suspension bridges. Using contact microphones we hear the vibrations in the cables, which are inaudible to the naked ear. These are some of the bridges I recorded in 1996 and 2002. This installation for hearing place was composed of 5 bridges sculpted in modelling clay, with architectural model people placed on them to give a sense of the story of each bridge. The sound of the 5 bridges was heard through headphones suspended next to the models.

Anzac Bridge

Blackwattle Bay, Sydney, Australia

This was the first bridge to spark my curiosity about the sound of its cables. Crossing the old Pyrmont Bridge every day to get to art school, I watched the bridge rise and stretch up into the sky. The cables looked just like a giant harp, and I wanted to play on them. With the help of Roz Cheney and ABC Radio’s The Listening Room, I was able to make this first recording. On my recent trip to record bridges around the world, it astounded me to find that many people still imagine Australia to be a land of Kangaroos, small towns and emptiness.

Matinkaari Bridge

River Vantaanjoki, Helsinki, Finland

On the expedition to record this bridge, I was accompanied by two of the media artists I met in Helsinki. Mari videoed the endeavour and Lasse climbed up into the cables behind the pylon and drummed out a rhythm on them. A group of Finnish fishermen nearby were intrigued and came over to find out what was going on. The Matinkaari Bridge is on a peaceful lake behind the Arabia factory, makers of iconic 70's ceramic wares and now part of the school of media art and design.

Novy Most Bridge

Danube River, Bratislava, Slovakia

Walking onto the Novy Most, I was a little nervous as my friend Bianca had passed on her Slovak Grandfathers warning: not to loiter, or even walk across the bridge, as you were likely to be mugged or attacked. The contrast between the 14th Century castle on one side of the Danube, and the 60's communist ghetto on the other was remarkable. I found the graffiti on the walkway beautiful, and saw gypsies busking in the streets of the old town, but no 'undesirables' on the bridge, simply people walking to and from work. The circular bar at the top is classic 70's kitsch and provided a wonderful view and trashy euro-pop with grape cider.

Millennium Bridge

River Thames, London, UK

The Millennium Bridge was closed two days after it first opened due to the violent swaying of up to 70mm caused by the sideways loads generated by the footsteps of the crowd. This phenomenon is now referred to as Synchronous Lateral Excitation. I could hear the instability in the cables' chaotic babble even after the problem was fixed; and wished I had heard them before the dampers were applied.

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Bay, California USA

A classic landmark, one of the icons that defines San Francisco and a significant tourist destination. The placement of Emergency Phone and Crisis Counselling as you walk onto the bridge is a hint of the many people who come here to commit suicide. During its 65 year history, over 1,200 people have jumped from the Golden Gate, making it the leading site for suicide in the world. The Bureau of Inverse Technology created the “despondency index” by capturing vertical movement from the bridge and cross referencing the dates with the NY stock exchange. The sound of the cables reflects the violence and tension of the bridge with their tumultuous clamouring.

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Prepared by: Iain Mott
Created: 6 August 2003
Modified: 12 December 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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