|Green Bridge Singing|
Eleanor Schonell Bridge (aka Green Bridge), Brisbane
The world's first permanent sound installation amplifying two cables of the bridge you can hear on interactive touch-screen while crossing the Eleanor Schonell bridge. Thanks to Head Design Engineer Steve O'Brien for the invitation to "come and make art with a bridge", Brisbane City Council and John Holland Construction for having the vision and dedication to seeing this project complete!
Jodi Rose 2006
Text for interactive pedestals:
[ Project Information ]
I am intrigued by the bridges of the city, musing on the urban megalopolis. What sound do bridges make? We look at them every day, but rarely tune in to listen to the messages coded in the wires. Bridges are essentially quixotic, impossible projects. One makes a leap of faith, both building a bridge and crossing one.
Singing Bridges is an urban sonic sculpture, listening to the cables of bridges around the world as instruments in a musical symphony. Echoing the telecommunications wires circling the earth, the cables of suspension and stay-cabled bridges reverberate with unexpected sounds, each structure creating a unique texture, rhythm and sonic environment. The sound of the cables is the voice of the bridges, calling out their concrete music, the vibrations telling stories from the life and memory of the structure.
The bridge cables are calling out to be heard. They are like the ship's beacon, a sign to remind us that we move between worlds. A signal that says; "Yes. I hear you." A reassurance of our presence, that we do in fact exist, as we stumble and chance across the invisible bridges that connect us to each other.
A re-interpretation of the familiar architecture of concrete and steel, highlighting the possibility of a transformative experience of the bridge, other than the everyday pragmatic encounters with architecture. Singing Bridges culminates in an international networked performance and installation mixing the sound of bridges around the world in the Global Bridge Symphony.
"The sun writes on the surface of the earth, a certain amount of information on the world.. as if the world knew how to write about itself. Being intelligent, consists, for us, of in recovering the secret of the intelligence of the world… The more we know how to decipher the messages contained in the winds, snow, light... [bridges…] and all sorts of waves, the more we are amazed by their wealth and their depth. The world sends messages and organizes itself thanks to their circulation." Michel Serres: Angels a Modern Myth
Green Bridge Singing
The notion of ‘singing’ Bridges implies that the cables have a ‘voice’ in some form. Understanding the voice to be a combination of breath and vibration, the cables in a suspension or stay cabled bridge are most commonly set into vibration by the force of the wind upon them. Reading the wind as a form of ‘breath’, I have come to understand the sound of the cables as being the ‘voice’ of the bridge itself.
The sound you are hearing is the first permanent sound installation on a bridge worldwide, amplifying the sound of the vibrations in the structure. The cables can be heard through speakers in a live feed on the interactive pedestals closest to the pylons. A sound installation that has minimal impact on the functioning of the bridge, and provides a sense of immediate engagement and interaction with the structure for people using it. The interactive screen allows engagement with the community along the river, bridges around the world, the construction process, and the sound of the Green Bridge.
Bridges have an inherently iconic and mythic symbolic resonance, adding significance and building pride in the community. This unique public artwork lends a layer of poetic and philosophical interest to daily interaction with the bridge; as you hear the song change over different times of day, through the seasons, weather conditions and traffic on the bridge.
The bridge cables are like the telecommunications wires spanning the globe, exchanging millions of messages that go unheard. In the sound of the bridge cables is an echo of our connections to the spirit and each other, which are so often overlooked or silenced in the maelstrom of life.
How it works: [Diagram signal path]
Accelerometers pick up the movement of the cables through vibrations. This movement generates a charge which is passed on to a signal conditioner. The signal output as audio goes into the soundcard on a PC and is streamed across the local area network to the interactive pedestal.
What you're hearing: The vibration caused by wind, traffic and strain on the structure through the cables. Or the voice of the bridge, a singing spirit depending on your perspective and beliefs.
First permanent sound installation of it's kind in the world
Technical Details: impedance/frequency/tech specs etc figures from the data
Frequency Spectrum: [spectrograph visualisation live/diagram]
Bridges take you across the chasm from one state to another. If you are paying attention you can be transformed by your passage over the bridge. The key is not to wonder how, or why, but simply to trust. Follow your imagination, trust your intuition, and finally, give in to magic and mystery.
Composition: Tuning Cables
Maybe the cables are giant receivers, collecting all kinds of signals. The humming on the lines, the random noise and static that spill over when we communicate - from the overflow of telecommunications wires circling the globe to unidentifiable frequencies from space.
The composition is made from recordings of the cables while they are 'tuned' as the bridge is under construction. One of the most fascinating aspects of the construction process from my perspective is the sounds transmitted by the cables when they are being tensioned, and while building work is taking place. These recordings are part of a series of Tuning Cables, with companion pieces from other bridges under construction.
Maybe the cables speak an untranslatable other tongue, with no recognisable codes or links to the everyday process of communication. As the inaudible vibrations are amplified into an acoustic presence, the gaps in existence can be heard. On the line is the sound of the world, humming through the cables.
Singing Bridges Worldwide
The idea of the bridge’s voice draws one to explore the acoustic space across the globe, to hear at certain locations the sound of the earth itself. The bridge is a symbol of the ear extended across oceans and rivers, the messages transmitted through the vibration in the cables are the voice of the bridge, speaking in tongues foreign and unknown.
Jodi Rose is a sound artist, writer and cultural commentator, working internationally to produce audio-visual performances, public art projects, sound installations, experimental music, radio programs and large scale sonic art events. Rose won 2005 ‘Best Australian Blog’ for Singing Bridges Travel Diary and served as the fourth Bridge Guard at the Art and Science Bridge Guard residential centre in Sturovo, Slovakia.
Rose trained in Sculpture, Performance and Installation at Sydney College of the Arts, and was the Australia Council New Media Arts - ABC Radio National: Radiophonic Artist in Residence 2004 at ABC Radio National, Sydney. Her most significant work is Singing Bridges, global performance and compositions based on the sound of vibrations in bridge cables. Her Radiophonic Feature: Bridge Songs and Stories, a Trip Across Australia was broadcast in December 2004 on ABC Radio National, and ABC Classic FM. Rose released Singing Bridges: Vibrations and Variations, a CD of her bridge compositions and remixes by various artists in 2005.
Rose’s works have been exhibited, broadcast and published in Australia, Scandinavia, UK, Central Europe and America. Exhibitions include: Overgaden Sound Art Festival - Institute for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Pixelache 2004, Kiasma, Museum for Contemporary Art Helsinki; Sound States Uncertain Destinations, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art; Sound in Space Audiotheque, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Her work is published in Sound Generations, Chronoplastics, Brooklyn NY 2006; Leonardo Music Journal CD Vol 6 - The Lyre's Isle, A Survey of Australian Sound Art and Design, MIT Press 1995; Taming the Wind: Aeolian Sound Practices in Australia, Ros Bandt, World Forum on Acoustic Ecology, Melbourne, 2005.
Jodi Rose is working on extending professional networks and collaborations with artists around the world and creating the Global Bridge Symphony.
Singing Bridges Global Symphony
Bridges occupy a space in-between, a threshold between worlds, countries and states of mind. Looking fragile and tenuous, resembling a spider-web spun across the void and creating a path where there was previously only air, the bridge hangs suspended improbably by threads.
What: Linking the vibrations from the cables, connecting many locations across the globe to play the bridge as a musical instrument in a live networked concert spectacular! This project is a wonderful celebration of the unsung heroes in engineering, architecture and construction around the world.
Achieving this unique idea requires a simple shift in the data acquisition and interpretation from existing monitoring systems installed on bridges to provide a creative experience of the bridge in a popular artistic form.
In order to realize this project, I am working with an international team, developing software and networks to mix audio from multiple bridge monitoring systems which are already on-site in many locations. This will allow us to extend the cultural and creative connections between many countries and bridges through the music of their cables singing together.
How: Collecting bridge monitoring data and networking to existing systems with online audio mixing software to link site specific installations with live streams in a symphony of bridges all over the world.
Where: Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Scandinavia, Spain, UK, USA and more
When: 2002 - 2012
Why: I've heard the bridges singing. Keeping an ear open for magic in the world. The bridge holds tension between two places. Learning to live with our differences and enjoy the richness of the human spirit.
Bridges operate as works of art and cultural resonators, not just visually but sonically and spiritually.
The work is about celebrating the connections between us, as human beings.
We are all in this together. We are more similar than different. A smile melts barriers. I believe in self-determination, independence and freedom of speech for all people.
The bridge connects on a deeper level with my passionate belief in justice and freedom. We each have the voice of our own unique spirit inside, just as the bridge does in the cables. A celebration of joy, imagination and hope over rationality, commonsense and fear.
The bridges are there singing, all the time. Encouraging more people to hear them is our goal. Making art more open and inclusive. It's about love, and courage, not hiding your secrets away. Communicate. It's a matter of faith. Keep believing. Together. Create. A love song to the world.
You imagine these could snap at any moment, but they are engineered strong and resilient. The cables look like harps, waiting to be plucked by angels or by passing giants. How do the cables sound? Could they become strings in an instrument made of bridges stretching around the earth?