Meta-Diva

Exhibited.

Nine Dragon Head Festival, Lake Teachong, Korea 2001.

Helen Lempriere Sculpture Award, Melbourne 2002.

Materials.
Aluminium, Audio and Solar electronics.

Dimensions.
Footprint variable, each unit 0.5 m dia. x 3.5 m.

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Notes.
Meta-Diva is an environmental Sound Sculpture, designed for installation in a wetlands site.  The work consists of a grouping of thirty individual units, each incorporating a solar powered digital audio ‘voice’ which emulates an element of the natural soundscape.

Each unit contains a miniature digital audio chip, coupled to a digital timer, set individually so that each of the thirty units has a unique time signature. The audio chips contain short samples of natural history sounds, bird song, and insect song and frog voices.

The combination of multiple sound sources, in conjunction with individual time signatures and the fluctuations of the solar power supply give the soundscape an un-cannily natural presence.  Technically, this a type of emergent behaviour in which, although we might recognise the repetition of individual sounds, the overall soundscape is in fact an infinite mix; somewhat akin to the always familiar, but never repeating sounds of a creek.

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In reality, the soundscape blends so seamlessly with the natural environment it is quite difficult to distinguish the artificial from the natural soundscape.

The physical structure of the sculpture employs the metaphor of plant biology and the thirty units are grouped as if to form a bed of Lotus plants.

The sculpture is entirely constructed in Aluminium, the top element being of spun and welded Aluminium, with all surfaces powder-coated.  Individual units comprise; a 3.5 metre tall stem which in turn support a small solar panel and terminate in a florette formed by a central bud surrounded by eight small exponential speaker horns; each florette being some 0.5metres in diameter.

The work has been designed for installation, in a lake-side context, the solar panels and the audio electronics are fully marinised and require zero maintenance, there are no batteries, no switches and no moving parts ensuring a minimum of ten years operational life before maintenance is required.

© Dr Nigel Helyer 2001.

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