Proxemics: The world is a deaf machine (2006)
This ‘active sound installation' was commissioned by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in 2006 and filmed for a Channel 4 documentary on the sculptor/artist book-maker Ian Tyson. It was designed as a response to a major new Tyson work, ‘Proximity’, commissioned by Anne Dillman in commemoration of her husband, philosopher Ilhan Dillman, which at Tyson’s suggestion was placed outside the (Norman Foster) SCVA building to link it visually with the iconic ‘ziggurats’ (Denys Lasdun) which characterise the site of the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Waters’s work is therefore a response both to Tyson’s work, and to the architectural relationship between Foster and Lasdun. The work was commissioned for a vast indoor space in the SCVA within which Waters installed a circle of 8 extremely high quality studio monitors on plinths of four different heights, designed both to ‘modularise’ and accommodate differences in human height, and to refer to Lasdun’s stepped ziggurats. These presented a loop of material which was calculated to produce standing waves - with nodal points which could be experienced by moving within the space. In addition, each visitor was given an iPod and open-backed headphones, which presented individual listeners with a further subset of audio material calculated to interfere with and ‘complete’ the audio experience from the loudspeakers. The piece therefore presents a physically fixed sonic structure within which each visitor can individually ‘play’ the space, completing and actively discovering the interactions between local (headphone) and global (fixed loudspeaker) material, and the nodal points of the (invisible) standing waves in the space. They thus each have their own unique perspective on the structure - in much the manner in which Tyson’s 3D steel work affords and encourages multiple perspectives on ‘re-reading’ the relationship between Foster’s architecture and Lasdun's .