Observation is a kind of sound x-ray. A number of floor-mounted telescopes are placed at various points in a city, overlooking an urban scene. Each element has a thin metallic neck secured to the floor and a long telescope-like swivel head.
These observation stations are positioned so that the telescope head faces the view. Similar to an observation point at a natural beauty spot, each telescope is freely moveable in two planes and can be directed at any portion of the facing elements of the view. Their function is clear and a small step is provided for children.
Visitors are invited to use these elements to view the cityscape, to gently swivel the telescope to focus on different parts of the urban environment.
As the viewer scans their telescopic view across the cityscape, a unique sound environment is generated, relating to the specific point of focus. It is as if by looking at each are of the view one could hear the localized sounds being emitted at that point: a sound x-ray. Sounds are mapped onto fixed points within the geographical reality of the individual site. The architectural features of the buildings, bridges, pavements and sky all have their own signature sound within the overall aural palette. These sounds emerge from the telescope itself at a level that remains discreet and only fully appreciated by the user.
The installation explores the relationship between the physical and the ephemeral layers of an urban environment. The telescope allows the visible fixed physical realities of the urban landscape to be experienced alongside a normally hidden and lost transient sound history. The work of art enriches the experience that people passing-by have of their particular urban surround.
Afterlife: This device is intended for a time when euthanasia is far more common than it is today. Medical technologies may have extended life spans but they have not increased quality of life. It’s not too difficult to imagine a time when people opt to take their own lives at the appropriate moment. All sorts of variations on suicide machines may evolve to cater for a huge range of emotional, psychological and metaphysical circumstances. Who would have thought that doctors would eventually work with technologists to develop new and humane ways of dying?
What happens when you decouple design from the marketplace, when rather than making technology sexy, easy to use and more consumable, designers use the language of design to pose questions, entertain, and provoke — to transport our imaginations into parallel but possible worlds?
We are concerned not only with the expressive, functional and communicative possibilities of new technologies but also with the social, cultural and ethical consequences of living within an increasingly technologically mediated society.