Exhibition brings wilderness ambiance to the city

Exhibition brings wilderness ambiance to the city

The exhibition, opening this week at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery, explores how the sounds of the wilderness can transform our urban environments and the wellbeing of their inhabitants.

A curated sound installation, Translating Ambiance sees nine sonic artists bring their reflections on translating wilderness experiences into the urban environment.

Curated by RMIT’s Jordan Lacey and hosted at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery, the exhibition challenges us to think about how artists can contribute to urban design and planning.

Lacey said the exhibition poses questions about how the same ambiance can be experienced in vastly different environments – for example a rainforest and a laneway – and the challenge this poses to concepts of the nature-urban divide.

He said the French, ambiance, refers to a rich lineage of thought about the feelings or mood that spaces can evoke.

“By learning how nature uses light, sound and air to affect our perceptions we might discover design techniques for making our cities healthier and more stimulating,” he said.

“From this I hope we might discover principles for design and ways in which artists might be included in the design and planning of our cities.”

Underwater microphones capturing field recordings.

Lacey asked contributors to imagine what a translated environment might feel like while reflecting on techniques, methods or tools that might bring the ambiance of one place to another.

He said this innovative future approach to urban design could see disused spaces turned into evocative places that invite people to sit, reflect and imagine.

Participating artist Salomé Voegelin said the brief pushed artists to think broadly about their interpretation of ambience.

“The translation of an environment is not an interpretation or material transposition, it's a new place where the environment and the human sounds meet,” said Voegelin.

The exhibition is supported by Australian Research Council funding and is on display at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery in Abbotsford from 5-22 September 2019.


Story: Grace Taylor


  • Research
  • Design
  • Urban Design

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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