Sage welcomes tourist binoculars with a difference

Bringing the sounds of Newcastle city to the visitors of The Sage in Gateshead, Binaudios is an art installation with a difference

Binaudio art installation at the Sage with its creators James Rutherford, left and Dominic Wilcox
Binaudio art installation at the Sage with its creators James Rutherford, left and Dominic Wilcox

It may look like a supersized pair of binoculars, but this sculpture will help the city come to life before your eyes.

Bringing the sounds of Newcastle city to the visitors of The Sage in Gateshead, Binaudios is an art installation with a difference.

Instead of just taking in the sights, tourists can point Binaudios towards certain Newcastle landmarks and hear the sounds of the city, past and present, as recorded by the artist behind the project, Dominic Wilcox.

“This is the brainchild of Suzy O’Hara, who is doing a PhD at Sunderland University, and her task was to create a collaboration so she teamed me, the artist, with a creative technologist from Newcastle, James Rutherford,” said Dominic, of Sunderland.

“We were put together to create artwork that was going to be shown at The Sage during the conference, Thinking Digital. I came up and visited James and saw the space at The Sage, which is famous for music recording and sound, so we wanted to do something with sound.

“There’s this huge view from The Sage to Newcastle on the other side and it was an idea that came naturally looking over and thinking of the sounds of Newcastle. It was then a case of designing this audio device and getting the technology inside.

 

“I went around Newcastle with a recording device and went to the likes of Discovery Museum, Grainger Market and St James’ Park.

“So now when you point Binaudios at different places around the city you can hear the sounds, like the crowd at the stadium, all the different noises of the city,” said 37-year-old Dominic, who is now based in London.

Thinking Digital Arts paired artist Dominic and creative technologist James together to collaborate on a new commission responding to the Thinking Digital Conference’s context in the Sage Gateshead.

Taking tourist binoculars as inspiration, the Binaudios can be pointed at different locations in Newcastle, seen across the Tyne from the Sage’s windows, to hear sounds such as skateboards in the park or the Newcastle United fans chanting at St James’ Park. If you turn it again you will hear a boat travelling up the river or King George V’s speech when he opened the Tyne Bridge on October 10, 1928.

Binaudios uses a computing unit, electronics and rotating “listening cones” to convert orientation into a soundscape, revealing the location’s distinct sounds.

The Thinking Digital Conference, the region’s largest annual conference celebrating innovation, creativity and technology, host Thinking Digital Arts, a week-long arts programme happening across Newcastle and Gateshead until May 25.

The full programme can be found at www.thinkingdigital.co.uk/arts

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