Site-specific multi-channel audio installation at Newtown Castle, Burren College of Art, Co. Clare, Ireland
Amplifiers, transducers, sensors, WAV triggers, Arduino microcontrollers, hardware
occupier_castle is a sound art installation at Newtown Castle, a 16th-century tower on the campus of the Burren College of Art, County Clare, Ireland.
The installation consisted of two main elements. For the first, the restored conical wooden roof, made of 7 tons of Irish oak, was transformed into a loudspeaker by attaching audio transducers directly to the wooden beams. Recordings of a harpist playing scales were remixed to create a Shepard Scale – an audio illusion of perpetually ascending (or descending) tones without beginning or end. This prerecorded looping track was then amplified and played through the roof itself and was audible to visitors as the climbed the spiral staircase of the tower.
For the second element, transducers were affixed to each of the heavy wooden doors on each floor of the castle so they would function as loudspeakers. Programmable microcontrollers stored and played back dozens of short sounds edited from recordings of street protests from around the world. These sounds included whistles, chants, shouts, sirens, and drums, and were selected to refer to the history of the Newtown Castle as a defensive tower. Each door was connected to a small wind sensor located at each of the tower’s slit windows. When the sensor detected wind, it triggered a random sound clip to be played through the corresponding door.