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The Muted Harmony (1999)

Go to Gallery Page The Muted Harmony
Related EntriesAudio Visual Gallery
Outdoor Installation, Sound Sculpture and Temporary Installation
Location: Ripponlea Estate, Victoria, Australia
By Brigid Burke

The Muted Harmony a sound installation was inspired by Invisible Cities a novella by the great writer Italo Calvino created in 1999 for CMEC Recent Ruins Part 1 Invisible Cities Event at Ripponlea Estate located in the Flower Garden and Arbour. The conception was inspired in part by an etching I produced in 1983.

The Muted Harmony is a visual and sound experiment that produces abstract and literal imagery and sound focusing on transparent dreams of cities. It achieves this through the use of glass and translucent forms combined with jagged and soft purring sounds. The sounds explore extreme high, low and speech-like abrupt sounds produced from glass, water, double bass, speech, flute and clarinet sources. All sounds were processed, fragmented, manipulated, and mixed through computer software. These sounds worked in conjunction with an image conveyed by two transformed chairs covered in etched, painted and hand printed broken glass with the use of mainly primary and metallic colours and fine lines.

There were four dominant sound voices throughout, corresponding to the four sides of each sculpture. The sounds emanate from beneath each chair. Filtering of the voices has the affect of obscuring the audio material. So too the glass constructions make the definition of the four sides ambiguous and the square is disrupted by their angular forms.

The Muted Harmony was originally be situated in the Rose Garden so as the sun would reflect onto the roses which would also soften and contrast the angular sharpness of the broken edges of the glass and the black heavy skeletons of the chairs. This harshness was also broken down by the detailed imagery of the etched and painted pieces of glass.

I was pleased with this early form however the situation changed within two days of the opening. The gardeners complained that the installation was ruining the garden (new shrubs) and the public felt there was a safety issue with the glass. So The Muted Harmony was moved to a hilltop nearby under a lonely tree. The music component was placed in the shrubs to the left across a path (no leads could be attached across the path - another safety precaution). The installation looked evil and the sound component like a dinosaur on the attack. The increasing rain added to the gloom. The Muted Harmony was now another sound installation, which took me by surprise. How could my work have become such an alien thing?

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Prepared by: Iain Mott
Created: 15 January 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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