24 channel audio, 80 speakers, programmed sound system, 2000 (ongoing)
Commissioned by the Sydney Olympic Park Public Art Program for the Sydney 2000 Olympics
5000 Calls is a large-scale multi-channel sound installation installed throughout the Urban Forest, an extensive 4.5 hectare loose grid of eucalyptus trees surrounding the Stadium Australia in Sydney. The ever-changing soundscape utilises 5000 human vocalisations uncovered from everyday life: the sighs, gasps, and groans of work, pleasure, sport, song and struggle.
5000 Calls resonates with the charged vocalisations of people in extreme physical states. The 'sense' of speech has been removed from these real world recordings to reveal a soundscape of human effort.
Leber and Chesworth have long been fascinated with the acoustic texture and the dynamic range of the human voice – beyond the speech content – the rhythms, sounds, shape, tone and frequency. They are particularly fascinated with the many proto-linguistic vocalisations that people make; these are the sounds we make prior to – or instead of – articulating through language.
The artwork utilises a customised program to produce ever-changing soundscape patterns as the different calls to interact with each other at different times, heard through the 80 speakers placed around the site.
'Sound Bites City', RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2013); ‘5000 Calls’ temporary installation along Millennium Riverwalk in Cardiff, Wales, organised by Chapter Arts Centre (2002); and ‘5000 Calls’ temporary installation along Shoemaker’s footbridge in Ljubljana, Slovenia, organised by Cankarjev Dom (2003). RMIT University Sound Art Collection.
Winner, Outstanding Achievement in Design, National Association for Women in Construction awards (2000)
‘Public art too often devolves into compromised cliché as vested interests ‘negotiate’ the outcome. 5000 Calls survives this process and demonstrates a role for new media arts in this area.'
– Paul Brown, RealTime No. 36, Sydney, 2000
‘5000 Calls . . . comes as a complete surprise both in its functioning and in what it says about the inclusive possibilities for the creation of public art in highly visible venues . . . It utterly transgresses presumptions of the monumental generally associated with privileged outdoor sites . . . 5000 Calls literally haunts the site, blurring the delineation of public and private, presence and absence, celebration and distress.’
– Alex Gawronski, Real Time No. 40, Sydney, 2000
‘5000 Calls is at once the most evocative and evasive of all the works here.’
– Felicity Fenner, Art in America, 2001