Friday, 9 December 2011

Sonic Wallpaper project update

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of MoDA's Sonic Wallpapers project that we are currently working on with Felicity Ford, sound artist. Felicity's idea was to explore wallpapers from an auditory and social perspective, asking what would it be like if we decorated our homes with sounds. We were so impressed by her innovative approach that we commissioned Felicity to undertake a research project based on audio responses to wallpapers.

Since the summer, Felicity has been busy researching the collections and has selected over fifty wallpaper samples. She chose samples she thought would stimulate memories and stimulate interesting discussion.

These wallpapers were presented to a number of invited guests over the last week or so. Felicity recorded their conversations, and she'll use these as the basis of her audio works. Felicity commented that "'powerful narratives" emerged as guests discussed the wallpapers in terms of "'atmospheres and memories", not simply in terms of design, fashion and history. Interestingly, some apparently "boring" wallpapers provoked lots of comment and discussion, whereas others which you might have thought seemed more dynamic elicited very little response at all. The next phase of the project will see Felicity editing the recordings to see which themes emerge, and she'll be documenting this process on her blog.

The initial idea was that the project would result in a conventional approach to touring exhibitions - with around twenty wallpapers shown in a single space. But as the project develops we are starting to realise that it might be possible to do things very differently, showing the papers not in a single venue but in a number of different places, both real and virtual. Working with Felicity is helping MoDA staff to think more creatively about what it means to "exhibit" stuff in a social media-dominated world, and how to engage audiences with the contents of MoDA's collections, in a rather Museum 2.0 kind of way.

"'I am very excited about this next phase of the project", Felicity commented, "and about translating the rituals of home decorating into audible content and wallpaper you can listen to". Like Felicity, we are also very excited about this innovative project and will keep you updated on its progress. In the meantime take a good look at both wallpapers featured and then consider what sounds, if any, they make you think off. Let us know what you come up with.

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