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Sense patterns

Diana Klaosen

Boo Chapple and Tricky Walsh, The Lung Boo Chapple and Tricky Walsh, The Lung
Words can barely do justice to sense-alias, a medium-scale 2-person installation displayed recently at Sidespace. Tricky Walsh’s specially created, meticulously constructed objects are unique and laden with rigorous symbolism. Equally important is Boo Chapple’s integral soundscape which incorporates, as discrete elements, everyday sounds recorded around the Salamanca Arts Centre—traffic noise, oral history on the centre’s previous incarnation as a jam factory and its inception as an arts centre, plus recordings of footsteps on the centre’s wooden stairs.

A prosaic collection? By no means. These sounds are engineered with skill and imagination: the data quantifies the traffic flow in adjacent areas over 24 hours: it is mixed and overlaid with foghorn sounds, musical versions of these timbres played on clarinet and cello, and sounds from a nearby building site. Fastidiously recorded and processed with the technical expertise and creative awareness these women share, this work is surprisingly subtle, insinuating itself on one’s consciousness.

The oral history recordings that emanate from Walsh’s sometimes anthropomorphic sculptures are very engaging: the tales, the class issues that emerge, the idiosyncrasies of speech, plus the occasional engineered slow moment or swelling up of sounds. The footstep noises, combined and amplified, are broadcast intermittently and sound like a troupe of very busy tap-dancers. All these sounds are “little fragments of history” (Chapple).

Visually, the installation’s groupings of Walsh’s 5 complex sculptures represent a “condensation of the senses” (exhibition notes). A large latex lung, seemingly ‘breathing’, investigates breath, pulse and smell. A striking ziggurat of wood and lenses encapsulates visual stimulus. A third work, in muslin and resin (this is a truly multimedia exhibition) examines pulse and electrical impulse as the transference of the sensual. Then, fabric and speakers form the internal recording device for information overheard: “the inner monologue of the space.” Lastly, plaster ‘bones’ are the symbolic receptacles of information.

As Walsh explains, “The sculptural elements deal with sensual interchange with our environment and the way our senses take in experience and store it as memory. This experience is then relayered onto our understanding of the present in a perpetual reciprocal cycle.” sense-alias expresses place: specific places as well as a more general sense of place. It operates as an entity that filters, responds to and transforms place through sound. It is an installation/exhibition that attempts many things and succeeds at most. It is not necessarily, at first viewing, easily read, but this is because there are so many ideas being explored, some in deeply philosophical ways. There are so many subtleties and nuances that the work repays a second or third viewing. It is not conventionally aesthetic and is certainly not installed like a typical exhibition. It is gloriously disconcerting, bathed in an evocative red light that is just sufficient to enable you to negotiate the gallery space.

sense-alias, sound sculpture by Boo Chapple & Tricky Walsh, Sidespace Gallery, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, Nov 26-Dec 1

RealTime issue #47 Feb-March 2002 pg. 25

© Di Klaosen; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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