Local histories/Global entanglements, 24 channel audio, 56 speakers, 4 sensors, applied paintwork, 60 grilles, 2006 (ongoing)
2006 Commonwealth Games landmark commission for William Barak Bridge, Melbourne. Commissioned by State Government of Victoria.
Created by Sonia Leber and David Chesworth in collaboration with Simeon Nelson.
How do we live with cultural difference? In shared spaces and border cultures, proximities test our capacity for ethical behaviour.
Sonia Leber and David Chesworth's soundscape is conceived as a sonic corridor of human voices. The project is built up around recordings made by the artists of people from the 53 Commonwealth nations who are now living in Australia.
Each individual voice contributes a distinctive singing style, with specific melodic and rhythmic ornamentation shaped over centuries of cultural tradition. The artwork can be seen as an imagined crowd through which actual crowds of pedestrians pass for a time between destinations.
Simeon Nelson's visual element is a calligraphic motif travelling the length of the soundscape. Its arcs and tendrils frame the mingling voices, unrolling in syncopation with the dynamic variations within the soundscape. The changing inflection and gesture of line is derived from the ornamental systems of many cultures around the world.
On William Barak Bridge, Proximities can be seen as an imagined crowd though which actual crowds of visitors along the bridge pass from time to time, during the Commonwealth Games and beyond.
Sources in the Central Zone
WURUNDJERI / Welcome to country
The artwork pivots around the voices of the local Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners the land around the city of Melbourne.
Voices: Joy Wandin Murphy, Kim Wandin, Lewis Wandin-Bursill, Dion Bender.
Clapsticks: Ron Murray, Dion Bender
Sources along the Bridge
As you walk along the bridge, the shifting soundscape constantly changes over time as new voices arrive, migrate, entangle and disentangle. Sources include:
BOTSWANA / Song for grinding corn, Mmapelo Malatji
CAMEROON / Celebration call for arrival of baby, Nathalie Mbala
THE GAMBIA / Story of establishment of the Manding Empire, Jali Buba Kuyateh
GHANA / Fisherman's song, Kuukua
KENYA / Rousing song to encourage dancing, Prisca Cradick
LESOTHO / Wedding song comparing bride to a shining star, Rosalea Simpson
MALAWI / Welcome song, David Marama
MAURITIUS / Lament for a child lost at sea, Tessa Naidu
MOZAMBIQUE / Repeating chant to ancestors, Carlos X Panguana
NAMIBIA / Song to celebrate independence, Esther Mbonge Cross
NIGERIA / Children's play song, Nze Nkem Anele
SEYCHELLES / Anticipating the thrill of the Moutya dance, Cecile Lablache
SIERRA LEONE / Working song describing aches and pains, Francess Kalon
SOUTH AFRICA / Celebrating the joy of coming together, Valanga Khoza
SWAZILAND / Welcoming the mother back from work, Zweli Tlhabane
TANZANIA / Song announcing a chicken has been stolen, Habib Chanzi
UGANDA / A bird distracts the women collecting water, Theresa Sengaaga Ssali
ZAMBIA / Song berating women who use skin lightening cream, Larry Maluma
BANGLADESH / Song about sacrifices that mothers make, Abdullah Al-Mamoon
BRUNEI / Song of the sprawling water village, Dayang Hashimah Hamid
INDIA / Karnatic singing, Narmatha Ravichandhira / Naga chant, Visier Sanyü
MALAYSIA / Song about a kite in the shape of a moon, Rohani Hashim
MALDIVES / Protecting the crystal clear waters and palm trees, Ahmed Nashid
PAKISTAN / Song to the new generation, Tahir Hashmi
SINGAPORE / Pantun verse about gift giving, Khairi Razaai
SRI LANKA / Song in praise of Lord Krishna, Narmatha Ravichandhira
CARIBBEAN & AMERICAS
BAHAMAS / The rhythms of the Goombay fire dance, Nakia Bolt
BARBADOS / Children's rhyme about a slave, George Gill
BELIZE / Song about a brown-skinned girl, Nadine Vernon, Mariel O'Ferrall
CANADA / Ballad of the fishing outports, Deborah Merrifield
GRENADA / Song of the fish vendor, Suzanne Berkeley
GUYANA / Gold seekers' river song, Lloyd Watson-Jones
JAMAICA / Preparing the Cerasee herb cure-all, Jigzie Campbell
ST VINCENT & THE GRENADINES / Song for funeral wake, Rueben Campbell
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO / Longing to go home, Courtney Leiba
CYPRUS / Lament of the solitary shepherd, Achillies Yiangoulli
ENGLAND / The hand loom weaver and the factory maid, Danny Spooner
MALTA / Ghanna-style singing, George Aquilina, Don Zammit
NORTHERN IRELAND / Slow air about a field of barley, Mossie Scanlon
SCOTLAND / Song collected from travelling tinkers, John McAuslan
WALES / Little saucepan on the stove, Moelwyn Hugh Jones
COOK ISLANDS/ Treasuring the eternal beauty of the islands, Guard John
FIJI / Song to hail the commencement of dancing, Silvia Nalewakalou Onken
KIRIBATI / Enjoying the calm, sleepy lagoon, Tetaua Macumber
NAURU / Rhyme to go buy candles during power outage, Cyrene McPhilbin
NEW ZEALAND / Greeting call to the people of the four winds, Margaret Maru
NIUE / Tale of storm capsizing a canoe, Miquel Sietu
PAPUA NEW GUINEA / Mourning song celebrating life, Olive Tau Davis
SAMOA / Song extolling the virtues of the village boys, Grace Vanilau
SOLOMON ISLANDS / Fishing song proclaiming abundance, Phillip Tagini
TONGA / Song of warriors rowing the king's canoe, Inoke Veamatahau
TUVALU / Call for people to come together, Keleta Avene
VANUATU / Dancing song used in sporting matches, John Maho Bule
Sonia Leber and David Chesworth gratefully acknowledge the artistic collaboration of Simeon Nelson.
Paintwork fabrication, Urban Art Projects
Sound system design, Resonant Designs
Audio installer, Prodigious Concepts