A new exhibition incorporates the sounds of the city, while introducing Melbourne to the Torus – an innovative sound shell prototype.
Sound Bites City, open until 19 October, showcases the new RMIT University Sound Art Collection – the first of its kind in Australia.
The RMIT Gallery exhibition’s centrepiece is a stunning donut-shaped sound shell, called a Torus.
The Torus encourages the audience to stroll through a sonic playground to a raised central faux lawn, while listening to new works by 19 leading Australian and international sound artists in 16-channel surround sound.
In the same way that visual art plays on our imagination in shape, form, colour and structure, sound art similarly questions how and what we hear.
RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies co-curated the exhibition with Associate Professor Lawrence Harvey, director of the RMIT Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) Sound Studios, and RMIT Collections Coordinator Jon Buckingham.
Ms Davies said displaying sound in an art gallery required a strong visual component.
"An invitation to slow down and listen-up is rare, which is what the Torus encourages us to do – sit, listen and play with our sonic imaginations," she said.
"We are fortunate to have RMIT staff and students designing and constructing the Torus within RMIT Gallery as part of their Architecture and Design elective."
Professor Margaret Gardner AO, RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, opened the exhibition.
Professor Gardner said Sound Bites City provided an opportunity for RMIT to present a rich repository of work to the public – one that demonstrated the wealth of possibilities in the field of sound art.
"While this is a wonderful exhibition for visitors to enjoy, I want to stress strongly that at the same time, it is a research collection of Sound Art," she said.
"RMIT Gallery is integral in the process of producing research and scholarship, and not just a place for enjoying art."
Associate Professor Harvey, whose recent projects include performances this year at the Institute of Sonology, The Hague, said hearing was a passive process, but listening was different altogether, as it required curiosity and concentration and engaged with our memory and emotions.
Sound Bites City is at RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne, until 19 October.