Take sounds out of context and they take on a different meaning. Everyday and stressful sounds of the city, which may may not even register that we are hearing, can surprisingly become soothing and calming in a different environment.
Music, sounds and technology bathed in a dark red light create an immersive experience within one of Somerset House’s 19th century rooms as part of ‘Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy’, a programme of specially-commissioned artworks relating to wellbeing, with a complimentary link to Somerset House’s major exhibition ’24/7; New perspectives on our non-stop world’.
One of the resident artists in the Somerset House Studios, Rowdy SS’s installation ‘Is this the End?’ provides a counterpoint to the main exhibition by inviting viewers to leave the hurly burly of the world outside, enter, sit on one of the three different chairs, shut their eyes and allow the sounds to embrace them as they relax and recover ready to go out and face the world fresh and revived, with the contradiction that many of the sounds are those out there in the city, but here, out of context, they take on a new and different characteristic.
Words that Rowdy SS uses for the sounds experienced are wide and varied:
oyster / barrier gates / people / escalators / beeps / buzzers / broom / concrete / conversations / many / checkouts / shouts / automated voices / barcodes / sign / posts / buses / horns / billboards / atm / heels / shoes / robots / touts / vendors / pushers / news / phone calls / bright lights / helicopters / discount theatre tickets / rickshaws / music / electric hums / bus / air / conditions / doors / creeks / hum / glass / smashing / construction / breaks / engines / doorbells / breathe / trains / footsteps / announcers / protestors / prayer / silent whispers / rainfall / splashing or water / boats / sirens / laughter / cries / helicopter / cars / tyres / tarmac / machinery / metal / bells / whistles / calls / falls / traffic / lights / self service checkouts / rustling / lightning / pigeons / piss / shouting / vomiting / glasses / clashing / glasses smashing / rubbish trucks / horse / shoes / gates / church / bells / fireworks / confetti / construction / workers / machinery / congestion / bodies / the young / the old / vehicles / thoughts / internal thinkings / minds / heartbeats / rhythms / breathe / yawn / laughter / birdsong / stillness / wind /
One of the questions that the 24/7 exhibition asks is how we can use technology for the better – installations such as this show one way.