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Local award-winning sculptor Guy Cooper creates giant solar-powered music box calling on Poseidon, god of the sea to save us from coal mining in Australia to #StopAdani and save the Great Barrier Reef.

I have built a giant solar-powered kinetic music box sculpture to raise funds for #stopAdaniGoldCoast. We had a great weekend down at Buskers by the Creek in Currumbin. A big thanks to Laurinda, Suzette, Matt and Warren from Stop Adani Gold Coast for coming down and helping spread the good word.
#sculpture #sculptor #PoseidonsMusicBox #artsactivsm
EMVEE ART

 

The new single from the sculpture Poseidon’s Music Box (Guy Cooper Sculptor) is released today! ‘Call to Poseidon’ is a call to the god of the sea Poseidon, to come and save us all from the proposed Adani mine in Queensland. This song uses the melody from the sculpture music box.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/0EUiSF7RPnIfoZRE3PwOUl

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS SONG ARE GOING TO OUR LOCAL Stop Adani Gold Coast group to continue the fight, so please add, follow, stream and share the song below on Spotify, iTunes and all major distribution channels. (If you want to donate more, you can do so via bandcamp https://humanrecordsau.bandcamp.com/track/call-to-poseidon)

Our own government doesn’t even believe in climate change haha… but we can all do something to help. Here is my latest effort using the skills I have.

I wrote this song for all the hardworking and passionate activists that fight every day in this country to do what is right. Our government has its head up it’s ass and it is up to all of us to do the right thing even if our leaders are more fixated on $ than our futures. Give them love and give them peace. Respect the land and we’ll share the seas. Hello sunrise, goodnight to dark skies.

A huge thank you must also go to the following wonderful local musicians that gave their time to come and collaborate on this beast.

Poseidon’s Music Box Sculpture – Main melody
Nathan Williams (Bowser, Kwerkshoppe, Diana Anaid) – Drums
Luke Reichelt (Reichelt) – Guitar, Vocals
Mickey Van Wyk (Mickey) – Guitar, Vocals
Kirk Mesmer (Sook) – Vocals
Cleo Cottone – Vocals
Steve Williamson – Vocals
Michael Simms (My Inner Hyde) – Vocals
Scott Saunders – Vocals
Ike Campbell – Vocals
Kara Towner – Vocals
Gold Coast Home of the Arts HOTA Choir including – Joan Ellerby, Ann Whitlow, Tiffany Storey, Linda Robertus, Carolyn Parker, Christina Tan, Frances Cummins, Katherine Edwards, Chrissy Carter, Gabrielle Vining, Allison Forner, Suzette Sheperd, Karen Millar, Marta Kashyrina, Laka Selby, Vera Thomson, Lynne Ohehir, John Ohehir, Susan Merritt, Nerida Sayer, Cheryl Wheeler, Kiki Loch-Wilkinson, Janet Cahill, Carla Dalton, Fiona Hollinger.
and myself Guy Cooper (Charlie Rebel, Mickey, Sook, Reichelt, Too Right Mate) – Lyrics/Melody, vocals, piano, organ, bass, percussion, violin.

Patterns and connections can be found in nature everywhere we look; the cylindrical motion of life is seen on a large scale in our solar system and in the smallest cycle of growth and rebirth on our planet. Nowhere is this seen more so than the in coral reef systems and our own Great Barrier Reef. The advancement the industrial revolution has impacted the planet in many ways, as we fight to keep our planet growing, humans need to find a way for life and our construct to grow together.
May this coral themed music box call the god of the sea Poseidon to come save us all.

 

Local Gold Coast artist, sculptor, musician and producer Guy Cooper has built a giant solar-powered, kinetic, Poseidon themed, music box sculpture to help raise awareness of the crisis our Great Barrier Reef is facing and to call for an end to coal mining and the proposed Adani mine in Australia. The giant music box will be on display in October at the annual Buskers by the Creek festival in Currumbin, Oct 13th and 14th.

Guy won both the Environmental Awareness award and the People’s Choice award at the 2017 Swell Sculpture festival on the Gold Coast for his 1:1 scale kinetic wind harp of Migaloo the white whale. The harp is the largest steel bodied string harp in the world, powered by the wind it currently sits in Ashmore on Mr Cooper’s front lawn and google maps as the ‘Big White Whale’. Guy has created the new sculpture as an arts activism piece and functioning music box to call the god of the sea, Poseidon to come and save us all from the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.

Mr Cooper says that,

“Patterns and connections can be found in nature everywhere we look; the cylindrical motion of life is seen on a large scale in our solar system and in the smallest cycle of growth and rebirth on our planet. Nowhere is this seen more so than the in coral reef systems and our own Great Barrier Reef. The advancement the industrial revolution has impacted the planet in many ways, as we fight to keep our planet growing, we need to find a sustainable way for life and our construct to grow together. Our government is not making decisions that benefit all our futures and we need to do something about it. May this coral themed music box call upon the god of the sea Poseidon to come save us all.”

Combined with the sculpture is also a song that will be released on Oct 10th entitled ‘Call to Poseidon’. (Spotify link https://open.spotify.com/album/0EUiSF7RPnIfoZRE3PwOUl?si=XZN3znWMThKCrl4ImiVFYA)The song combines the melody from the music box along with 30+ local musicians, including members of the Gold Coast Home of the Arts choir calling on Poseidon and sharing some love for the cause. Guy is more well known as the owner of the Gold Coast based record label Human Records, music producer and composer for Serotonin Productions and as a musician in a variety of local bands including punk activists Charlie Rebel. He says the song is a thank you to all the protesters and passionate activists who give their time and effort to help make our world a better place. The creation and public display of the Poseidon’s Music Box sculpture aims to bring awareness and along with the song, raise funds to help fight the proposed Adani coal mine. All the proceeds from the sculpture and song will be going to a cause Guy is passionate about, the local #StopAdaniGoldCoast group to help continue the fight.

You can be one of the first to see the music box sculpture in action down at Buskers by the Creek in October. The artist is asking people visiting the sculpture to please take a photo and tag #PoseidonsMusicBox and #CoralNotCoal in your post. Along with your short message about how this sculpture makes you feel or what you think needs to happen to flight climate change and help save the largest living organism on the planet.

The sculpture itself besides being a giant sustainable spinning music box is based on coral formations, sacred geometry and lunar cycles. It lights up at night time with 273 LED lights all powered by the inbuilt recycled solar system. With an honors degree from the Conservatorium of Music, a physics degree in Astrobiology and now masters in Creative Industries, the sustainably powered music box sculpture is a combination of all of artist Guy Cooper’s passions. Guy collaborated with friend, fellow musician and painter Mickey Van Wyk from Emvee Art for the coral patterns on the sculptures arms and vocals on the song.

Guy believes that it is up to all of us to do something, the struggle between big business, coal mining and the environmental concerns of the people has long been a concern for many Australians. The Great Barrier Reef has experienced a decline of over 50% due to coral bleaching since the 1990’s and is hitting a critical point with the loss of this diverse ecosystem.

Comprised of over 3000 individual reef systems, the Australian Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and is the only living thing on earth visible from space (Australia’s Great Natural Wonder, 2017). The entire living organism contains some of the most diverse collections of marine life on the planet. It is the largest living structure on the planet, and resides in Australia’s own backyard. The tourism value alone generated by the Great Barrier Reef is said to be over 6.4 billion dollars each year.\

The continued mining expansion and burning of coal and fossil fuels are directly connected to the loss of this natural ecosystem. The Great Barrier Reef has experienced a decline in size of more than 50% due to coral bleaching since the 1990’s and is now reaching a critical point. Coral bleaching is caused by unusually high water temperature which is becoming more and more frequent with human induced climate change. The proposed Adani mine will be one of the largest coal mines in the world. It is estimated that the mining and burning of coal from the mine will generate 4.7 billion tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over its proposed 60-year operation. This is “among the highest emissions from a single project anywhere in the world. The GHG emissions from the mine thus represent a significant contribution to global GHG emissions and therefore to human-caused climate change.” (Veyron, 2017).

For more info head to http://www.guycooper.com.au/poseidon

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Giant kinetic solar-powered music box

I have built a giant kinetic solar-powered music box calling on the god of the sea Poseidon to come save us all in Australia from the proposed Adani coal mine.
A big thank you to Samantha Morris and Blank GC for the write-up on the new sculpture and the upcoming Buskers by the Creek.
Fav quote “I believe our government has its head up its ass and the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland is a disgrace.”
Patterns and connections can be found in nature everywhere we look; the cylindrical motion of life is seen on a large scale in our solar system and in the smallest cycle of growth and rebirth on our planet. Nowhere is this seen more so than the in coral reef systems and our own Great Barrier Reef. The advancement the industrial revolution has impacted the planet in many ways, as we fight to keep our planet growing, humans need to find a way for life and our construct to grow together. May this music box call on the God of the sea Poseidon to come save us all.
INFORMATION SHEET - Poseidon's Music Box Exhibition Info Sheet
Stop Adani Gold Coast Stop Adani Australian Youth Climate Coalition Queensland Greens Gold Coast Greens
#coralnotcoal #poseidonsmusicbox #fortheloveofthereef #artsactivism #sculpture

 

New Being Jane Lane single NEXT STEP, premiered on Triple J

Tune into Triple J Short Fast & Loud tonight and Scenestr tomorrow morning to hear the new Being Jane Lane single NEXT STEP!

Its been an honor to be working with them over the last yr and a bit through Human Records. Congratulations to the ladies for the start of their new album, NEXT STEP will be on Spotify, iTunes, etc on Friday… it’s a banger!

Aug 10th 2018 Journal Poseidon’s Music Box – Cycles of action

Cycle 1 Visual Design Aesthetics and Fabrication

As the final construction and visual design take place, its great to see all the elements come together. The size and awe of the machine spinning and how all the parts complement each other are making more sense in real terms now and all the smaller elements and joins are becoming clearer. I have managed to construct a trident for the main arm supporting the chimes and this will be the only element painted gold, with the rest of the sculpture in gloss black and white.

The solar electrics have come a long way and all the lighting, solar panels, battery, solar regulator, timers and remote switches have been wired up and tested ready for fitting.

I have sourced perspex panels made from 100% recycled materials for the arms and this has been a great design change to allow more imagery to explain the message in a clearer way. I have decided to have the words and messages expressing the cause listed on the panels rather than routed into the wooden panels so that they are clearer and can be more visually integrated with the whole design, as opposed to just tagged on the bottom.

From my previous list I have landed on the following 6 phrases as key,

  • #CoralNotCoal
  • Please Save Me!
  • #StopAdaniGoldCoast
  • Earth’s Largest Living Organism
  • #ForTheLoveOfTheReef
  • Don’t Let Me Die!

The panels will be covered in coral silhouettes and Poseidon imagery, painted by myself and an artist friend Mickey Van Wyk, similar to these seen below.

312 plants have also been potted for embedding in the arms of the sculpture thanks to some help from my parents. The plants were all grown at my property from cuttings over the last 11 months.

 

Cycle 2 – Auditory Musical Composition, Production & Publishing

The score for the sculpture is complete and consists of 7 notes in the following chord progression, C / F / F / Am G. As seen below,

Main Score Call to Poseidon

Transferring the score to the sculpture is easy enough, diving the main music box surface into 16th note divisions and programming the melody to strike the corresponding chimes. The final score can be heard in the ’10 Main Melody’ track below. The actual song for release has begun and can also be heard with demo vocals in the Poseidon.03 Demo below.

Drums, bass, guitars, piano and organ have been recorded and the final vocals are going down this week along with the solos and extra parts.

Through the process of the sculpture, I have landed on the idea that the song’s audience is for the protesters. The sculpture itself is to bring awareness, but also to call on the Greek god Poseidon to come and help save the oceans from… us!

So many of the protesters are pouring their time, energy and souls into the cause and sometimes becoming angry at the government’s lack of respect and stance on the issue. I wanted to make a song that could cheer them up, bring some happiness and love back into their lives.

The lyrics for the song are listed below.

Call to Poseidon

Intro CH
Oooooh oooooh
Hello Sunrise
Oooooh oooooh
Goodnight to Dark Sky’s

Ch1
Give them love, Give them Peace
Respect the Land and We’ll Share the Seas
Oooooh oooooh, Hello Sunrise
Goodnight to Dark Sky’s
Hello Sunrise
Goodnight to Dark Sky’s

V1
This… Home…. Lies beneath my feet
This… Land…. It needs to breathe

V2
We pour down like the rains and we pour out on the streets
Oooh  ooooh
I’m Calling on Poseidon and I’m on my knees

Ch2
Give them love, Give them Peace
Respect the Land and We’ll Share the Seas
Oooooh oooooh, Hello Sunrise
Goodnight to Dark Sky’s
Hello Sunrise
Goodnight to Dark Sky’s

Solo

Ch3
Give them love, Give them Peace
Respect the Land and We’ll Share the Seas
Oooooh oooooh, Hello Sunrise
Goodnight to Dark Sky’s
Hello Sunrise
Goodnight to Dark Sky’s

 

Cycle 3 – Documentation and Exegesis

The entire process is coming close to an end and through the research and ideation of this project, I have uncovered a better understanding of my practice as a sculptor. Rather than being called ‘sound sculpture’, I have landed on the term ‘environmental music sculpture’ for my works. The creation of sculptures that are also instruments and can be visually pleasing as designed works of art, but also perform prewritten scores and are powered by natural sustainable means (wind, solar).

The design process has been easier than before due to my experience with welding steel and also a more in-depth understanding of the end purpose of this piece. The song and sculpture are being integrated more succinctly and I have found the whole process less stressful than the previous sculpture. There have been over 700 hours of work to date put into the sculpture and song construction and my project management skills have helped this stay on track for the most part. Mistakes have been made, fires have been started in the garage, blood has been drawn and a nice face full of sparks from a grinder at the end of a long day has left me feeling the pain of my hard work. But overall I am very pleased and satisfied with the end result. The final sculpture will be assembled this week and I can’t wait to see it all in action with the final coats of paint.

July 7th 2018 Journal Poseidon’s Music Box – Cycles of action

  • The frame and structure

The construction of the main frame is almost complete, it has been a monster effort to get all the dimensions accurate enough for the whole structure to spin and be balanced enough to serve as a musical instrument. I thoroughly enjoy the kinetic aspect of the sculpture, I’m not sure I would be as satisfied with a stationary sculpture and I love the whole piece almost breathing and moving powered by solar energy in this case, but wind or any sustainable energy source. My welding skills have greatly increased on this piece and although Im still learning as I go, burning myself slightly and setting a few things on fire, my welds are becoming cleaner and most structurally sound. I am on track and hope to have the main structure finished this week so I can move onto the paint and decorations.

  • motor gears and speed

The motor and gears have been a little bit of a struggle, I have unfortunately burnt out a few motors and have finally settled on a lower powered, but higher RPM drive that I will gear down to the main axle. The electronic components have been the easier aspect of the whole piece and the main solar inverter, timers, gear switches and lighting controllers were all done in a couple of hours as seen in the above pics. The sculpture will be set to rotate from 6am until 12 midnight for 18hrs of 2amps (36amps/day) and the lighting from 6pm until midnight for 6hrs of 5amps (30amps/day). This will give me 66amps of power needed a day and with the 120watts of solar panels and the 132amphour battery, more than enough power to balance out any cloudy days.

  • Coal and coral wall coverings

One of the biggest things that has been on my mind while constructing the main piece has been the covering of the outer arms. The inner arm will be covered in succulent plants, giving the appearance of colourful coral and life, but I wanted to have the outer arms really explaining the purpose and theme of the sculpture by having the contrast of life and death of coral due to the climate change and directly coal mining. So my thoughts have been moved towards a black and white theme. Black coal wall on one side and bleached white coral wall on the other. As the sculpture rotates, the black and white surfaces of each of the six arms will display themselves to the viewer giving the appearance of life and death in cycles.

How to achieve this has been the biggest issue, I have gone through several options for the coal wall, including fake rock walls, pebble create, styrofoam painted and was even playing with the idea of having a printed 2d photo of coal and coral that would be mounted on the outside of the arm. I really feel that this would be a bit ineffective and wanted to have it be 3d and textual to express the feeling better for the viewer. I have finally settled on finding some charcoal that I will break up and glue onto a flat surface. This is ideal as it is lightweight and looks exactly like coal in texture and reflection.

For the bleached coral wall, I am at this stage going to either find or mould some fake coral pieces and paint them white. I feel like this stage of the decoration could be time-consuming, so I have been calling on some arty friends to help with this in a couple of weeks, once I’m ready to put it all together.

  • Poseidon theme

The whole theme of the sculpture is ocean themed and attempting to make the sculpture appear as it had come from under the ocean in Poseidon’s kingdom while being on land has been a big thought. I believe I can achieve most of this via paint and coverings. My fear is though that I don’t want it to look like a kindergarten class has glued plastic sea turtles all over it. I have a collection of shells, barnacles and ocean life creatures that I will be covering the main body in once all the other aspects are attached with the aid of some advice from my friends. I am leaning towards a black and white main body with deep blue and gold leaf veins running around the structure to make it appear like it has lived it’s life under the ocean. The arm that will be holding the chimes will also be fashioned like Poseidon’s trident and sticking out from the top at an angle.

  • Music composition

I have been playing around with the music score for the actual sculpture melody and the full song for the past month or so and have decided on the Ab Major/F minor key for the bulk of the composition. I wanted the score to be happy and positive along with the lyrics, but to also incorporate some off-putting sense that the reef is dying too. The following playlist has a few of the refined compositions and my preferred ones are 04 and 07. The 07 V3 is a combination of both the 04 and 07 loops with a basic structure of the song. I could add a lot of layers, but I’ll work out the basic structure and main melody and then leave the song open for collaboration with a bunch of local musicians. I have about 30+ players available from 20+ bands I’ve approached and it will all happen fairly fast towards the end of this month. I want the actual sculpture playing the melody before I lay down anything solid for the popular music song.

  • GOMA visit

Finally, with so many things going on recently with the sculpture (I have put in 250 hours of work in the past 4 weeks), I decided to take a break and head to GOMA in Brisbane to take in some other sculptures and artwork to clear my mind. It was a nice weekend and the trip on the train proved to be as meditative as the gallery itself. Also actively taking the time provided some reflection on the whole process and a reaffirmation of what I want to achieve.

  • Possible Slogans for the paneling around the base of the sculpture.
    • #CoralNotCoal
    • #StopAdaniGoldCoast
    • #ForTheLoveOfTheReef
    • Earth’s Largest Living Organism
    • Please Save Me!
    • Mine not mine
    • Let Me Live!
    • Don’t Let Me Die!
    • Dead Barrier Reef?
    • Marine Sanctuary or Mortuary?
    • Great Barrier RIP

June 18th 2018 Journal Poseidon’s Music Box Cycles of action

  • Research into the exhibition

As I am getting closer to having the sculpture finished I have revisited the public launch aspects and connecting the sculpture with the community to serve a public purpose. I have contacted HOTA (Gold Coast Home of the Arts) and also The Dust Temple (Currumbin art gallery) and both have expressed very positive interest in having the sculpture at their galleries. I think at this stage I will go with both of these to start and then move onto some other sculpture festivals once I have the masters submitted. I am aware of not putting myself out too much with the transport of the sculpture and allowing myself enough time to work on the written exegesis.

  • Connecting and networking with the cause and environmental groups

I have been keeping up with the news articles and progress of the overall cause of #StopAdani and the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. The local Gold Coast #StopAdaniGoldCoast crew are keen to be included in the sculpture and at the very least their hashtag will be on the panelling at the base of the sculpture. This sculpture is also a lot easier to transport so I will be able to set it up within an hour and bring it to some of the events they have coming up, protests and other.

I have also connected with the https://fortheloveof.org.au/ (For the Love of the Reef) movement and will be incorporating this into the sculpture.

https://fortheloveofthereef.raisely.com/guycooper

“I’m constructing a giant kinetic, solar powered coral shaped music box to help raise awareness and funds to fight Adani and to help protect our Great Barrier Reef. I believe it is all of our responsibility to fight for a sustainable future, our government certainly isn’t being responsible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do what we feel is right.
http://www.guycooper.com.au/poseidon/”

FTLO_2018_A3_poster.jpg

Some recent articles of interest.

http://www.artshub.com.au/news-article/news/trends-and-analysis/andrea-simpson/how-public-art-is-adapting-to-our-changing-world-254325

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/08/domestic-tourism-to-great-barrier-reef-falls-in-wake-of-coral-bleaching

 

June 11th 2018 Journal Poseidon’s Music Box – Cycles of action

 

Music composition started, DbMajor or Aminor maybe, just experimenting with tempos, scales and ideas between complex and minimalistic.

Construction phase.
– Centre Cube rotating and base finished
– Hexagon base frames fabricated
– Grounding base finished and Square.
-Bearings and gears for

Solar Panel sourcing and commitment.

Collecting video footage and pics for presentation.
Social Media Engagement.

Rethinking the theme and slogans
– tied into the song lyrics
– Stopadanigoldcoast movement
– Focus on wonder not economic gloom

 

 

May 2018 Journal Poseidon’s Music Box – Cycles of action

With the bulk of the initial research already done, I have moved onto the actual construction of the sculpture and the part I enjoy the most. I love building and working with my hands, it is calming. The initial design above is guiding me in the overall structure, but as each part is taking shape, I am refining the small technical details regarding the gears and structural joins. The sculpture would be very easy if it was not moving, but the rotation is what will be creating the music score and also bringing life to the piece. The electronics for the solar power are planned to be hidden within the arms and under the main plate and this requires some planning so that the entire structure doesn’t twist itself apart.

Cycle 1 – Visual design aesthetics and fabrication

Act: Design the initial concept drawing.

Observe: Does the visual appearance express the message of the connection of coal and the environmental death of the coral to the audience?

Reflect: The aesthetics of the design are slowly being updated as I go through the process too. While the initial design and coverings with succulent plants will remain, I am thinking of having half of each of the six arms covered in black coal and the other half in the brightly coloured plant life to really contrast the life and death aspects of the sculpture.

The panels around the base of the sculpture were designed to more directly send the message I wanted with the whole piece and therefore I am sticking with the bold and direct quotes, images and as the whole sculpture rotates, these messages will display.

#1 Coral Not Coal

#2 Sustainably co-existing with our planet

#3 #StopAdaniGoldCoast

#4 Please Save Me

#5 $56b economic, social & icon value. $6.4b contributed to Australian Economy annually

#6 One of the 7 natural wonders of the world in our own backyard

largest living organism on the planet

The sculpture is also very visually based and I’m finding that the micro aspect which can be viewed up close and the larger shape of the whole piece should mimic each other. The small geometric designs engraved on the arms will represent the overall larger scale imagery.

Act: Communicating the overall intent of the sculpture through each small piece will ensure the message is clear overall. The shape of the sculpture along with the succulent plant life will represent the coral shape. The bright colors of the plants, the black coal on half of each of the arms and the white bleached frame will follow through with this concept.

The textual messages on the wooden boards at the base of the sculpture will directly express the message to the audience.

Fabrication is currently underway and further observation will occur once this stage is more complete. I’m still working on how I can make the sculpture interactive with the audience, initial ideas are to ask people to take a picture with the sculpture and post it online with their message with the hashtag #coralnotcoal

Cycle 2 – Auditory musical composition, production & publishing

Act: I’m working on the musical melody loop that represents a birth and death cycle, major to minor and fitting this into 32 8th notes. The tube chime mechanics have also been calculated and some have been cut to ensure the tones are loud enough and acoustically pleasing.

 

Cycle 3 – Documentation and exegesis

Act: In answering how I can enact the change I want in my sculpture I have spoken to #stopadanigoldcoast and HOTA (Home of the Arts Gold Coast) about working towards a display or exhibition of the sculpture in August. Tying the sculpture in with the #stopadanigoldcoast movement will help develop an audience and some press for the piece. In addition, I have started to put together a website at  http://guycooper.com.au/poseidon/ to collate all the blogs and images of the work in progress. This site will also be the final digital public delivery of the sculpture, song and videos.

 

 

April 16th 2018 Poseidon’s Music Box Sound Sculpture

For my masters project and as part of the written exegesis, I will be trying to focus on three main sections for discussion and cyclic analysis of the ‘Poseidon’s Music Box’ sculpture.PERSPECTIVEfinal CROP

  • The physical (structure and aesthetics)
  • The sonic (song with a message & sound sculpture)
  • The ideology (eco-activism & public art)

Through the discussion, I will look at it through 3 lenses,

  1. The discourse
  2. As a sound sculpture and as an object
  3. Impact and taste as public art (Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste by Pierre Bourdieu)

I will be reflecting on the design and aesthetics of the sound sculpture as public art, not the outcome, as I won’t have scope for a focus group. I will be measuring the shift in practice from my professional music production to sound sculpture. Incorporating Action Research Cycles as a methodology.

  • Looking at the transition from just supporting activist work to being the activist through my sculpture work.
  • The merging of different disciplines (music, production into sculpture) to express my politics and music composition. The blend of sculpture world and music world.

I will also be discussing the use of a song/music in sound sculpture vs sound sculpture with a sonic soundscape.

To help form the basis for the exegesis I am moving towards refining the following question.

How can I design my sound sculpture to inspire social impact with a cause?

Some other questions posed by my supervisors,
Q: How can public sculpture express a political view?
Q: Can political sculpture create public discourse?
Q: What type of political sculpture can create public discourse?
How can public art create and inspire emotional and change in thinking and philosophical issues?

In the interest of making more sense of my work with this project, I would like to find out how I can refine and adapt the design of the visual and musical elements within my sculpture to inspire some social impact in the public art realm.

Other action research cycles I can discuss that have already occurred.

  • Feedback from Migaloo’s Song sculpture.
  • Keep copies of the current discussion around current public art on Gold Coast.
  • My transition from musician and producer to sound sculpture artist.
    • Step one – Too Right Mate (music activism)
    • Step two – Migaloo (sound sculpture & art activism)
    • Step three – eco / activist artist
  • My learning of fabrication (welding and steel work)
  • My research surrounding acoustics and instrument making

 

April 2nd 2018 Sound Sculpture – Poseidon’s Music Box

Construction has begun and figuring out where my focus is.

Throughout the last trimester I have been exploring more theoretical aspects of the sculpture I am creating and thinking more about the ‘purpose’, the why of the physical art and what it can help achieve. The focus was initially based on my own meditative and creative output, exploring the engineering fabrication aspects and design aspects for my own personal education and exploration. Having a creative outlet that was separate from my music and production work to help me relax more. Music hasn’t become a chore, I love it, but my whole life is consumed by musical projects. I think I do a lot of the video, photography and media management work not only to further the music we create, but also to fulfill my desire to explore more art forms.

The construction of sculptures has been exciting, learning how to weld and being able to create what it in my mind without the restraint of not knowing how to physically make it work and put it into action. Through this ‘sculpting career’ move, I have also become more aware of the effect of public art on people and how what I create can affect and inspire the people around me. I saw this in reflection on the ‘Migaloo’s Song’ sculpture last year. I went into it for myself, wanting to build this thing I had an idea for, but I came out at the end with a sea of people I affected with the design and construction of the large-scale machine. The wonderment of the actual object functioning was one thing, but the inspiration that anyone could just buy a welder and make this thing created sense of joy in so many of my friends. Everyone wanted to be a part of it and I had lots of friends wanting to come help make it and the song. A side result apart from the awards and self-fulfillment was the direct inspiration for 4 friends who directly told me that me undertaking the sculpture and achieving it (as well as sharing it online in videos and posts) helped them to overcome the fear of starting a new art form or dream they had always avoided because of insecurity. It also directly affected 2 young Gold Coast school students whom I sponsored with some of the prize money to build their own sculptures for this year’s festival. I didn’t see this effect at the start of the project in Jan 2017, but it’s becoming clearer to me this year. What I could measure though was the effect it also had on the public that saw the sculpture, I wasn’t aware and/or wasn’t concerned with that. Mostly due to the fact that I didn’t even know if I could do it and if I’d be happy with the final result, adding the pressure of making others happy with the result or affecting change would have made it too stressful for me. This year is different though, I have a lot more confidence in the process and now that I have a good model for how the whole situation of designing, building and showcasing public art works, I am keen to create a more defined outcome for the public viewing the piece in addition to my own satisfaction.

So, I want to explore the effect of the audiences sensory and emotional reaction to the sculpture and in turn how public art can help encourage or change or affect the public’s perception on a particular topic. It might not even be a direct actionable response as I had initially suggested a month ago, but may be a change or mindset or a trigger or catalyst for their thinking and this is where I think public art has a purpose.

As I start to propose a question for my final exegesis, I would like to fulfill the following things.

  • Creating a question that I personally don’t know the answer for to ensure I am engaged fully in exploring the topic.
  • Creating an sensory impact in the audience, whether it is emotional, actionable or philosophical, through the visual and sound of the piece.
  • Creating a path for myself to continue exploring and pushing myself in both design and fabrication of the sculpture.
  • Creating a philosophy for my own sculpting career, a 2nd purpose for what I am trying to achieve besides building an awesome thing that interests me.

I will come back to the question, but to start getting the ideas out at this stage perhaps something like,

How can public art create and inspire emotional and change in thinking and philosophical issues?

To help explore the topics above throughout the process of this masters and the sculpture, I am creating an action plan to map out the phases and timeline of both the sculpture design and construction and also the milestones to reflect on the affective qualities and goals of the final piece in relation to an audience. While the Swell Sculpture Festival on the Gold Coast in Sept 2018 creates a deadline and an initial public display and audience, it is not the sole destination, but instead I think that it is an example of public art display.

Action Plan

Here’s how I have practiced in the past (detailed review of how I did Migaloo)

VS

How I am going to go about making this one, what is different. Looking at my practice as if it is brand new.

To do this I need to become more critically aware of decisions on my way and make sure that I document them as much as the actual construction process. I need to be able to look back at where I’ve come through my own research so far with regards to sound sculpture. Some of the cycles reflection will be practical construction, some will be on the research and what I have learned.

What is measurable action research?

  • Find way to measure and get data.
  • Do something, reflect, examine, reflect and re adjust.
  • Look deeper into this with a case study on the methodology.

Here’s how I have practiced on the Migaloo’s Song sculpture.

For my initial sculpture last year, I was much more concerned with the actual construction process and simply achieving it for myself. Part of this selfish focus was to remove any excess stress from the project as I didn’t need to do it all in the first place and I was going through chemo at the time. There was probably part of it where I recognized if I put the focus on self development and fulfillment than I could avoid insecurity and fear of judgement from others in the art and sculpture scene as it was a new art form to me and this fear is usually what stops most creative people from undertaking new works.

The sculpture last year started with a 2 month long design process in Dec 2016-Jan 2017, the whale started out as a geometric pattern of strings and plucking parts to a wave made of strings, then a hammerhead shark with strings long ways and ended up being a humpback whale. All three (and the other side tangent designs) were related to sound and music, it was clear to me from the early stage that I was interested in creating sculptures that combined sound, acoustics and music, though it was another 16 months until I discovered the term ‘Sound Sculpture’. I had also just finished an Physics degree in Astrobiology that saw me fixated on the connection of frequency and vibrational wave theory in the development of life in our universe.

Throughout the ‘Migaloo’s Song’ design and construction I was aware and making decisions on the piece based not only on my own interest, but on how it would look and sound to an audience. I think 20 yrs in the music industry has taught me that there is nothing wrong with making music or art that is self-satisfying, but considering how the audience will react or take in the art is also an important skill to have. I think this is where the sculpture moved from being simply a geometric combination of parts to another living creature that would encourage people to ponder the connection between nature and us as humans though music and sound. The following was my artist statement for ‘Migaloo’s Song’ from Jan 2017 before I had begun construction.

Sound and music follows a harmonic structure like that found in nature. There’s connection to our organic world utilizing acoustics & science, to create harmony with our surroundings. Sound is an auditory perception of the brains response to vibrational patterns observed by our bodies. The combination of art, design and psychoacoustics creates a hidden link that resonates between nature and all life. Humpback whales are described as ‘inveterate composers’ of songs that are ‘strikingly similar’ to human musical traditions, a kinship we share with these mammals and a shared language. – Guy Cooper / Migaloo’s Song

For that sculpture I think there was a decent amount of thought that went into the design and construct of creating some response in the audience, a purpose and connection for the sculpture at the start of the design process. But as the actual construction begun, I focused soley on the fabrication and it wasn’t until it was finished (3 days before swell haha) that I came full circle and started to revisit the extra elements of actionable response in the audience. This was achieved in a small way with the press releases and the song I wrote using the harp and a collection of local artists supporting me on the track.

Press Release Sept 2017 – https://www.dropbox.com/s/um0tc3oxxjtpq59/Guy%20Cooper%20-%20Migaloo%27s%20Song%20Media%20Release.pdf?dl=0

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/7f862NkJeucPguLSLYj2yF

There was a lot of reflective moments in regards to the construction, visual appearance and sound of the harp. Every 4-7 days when I had created a new aspect or failed to construct what I had in my mind, I sat down and reflected on the sculpture. Sometimes it was a forced moment of reflection as my body wasn’t physically able to move or stand up, somedays spent in chemo my mind was redesigning the construction, welding, joints and parts perhaps as a way of distraction from the depressing scenes and news in the hospitals. These moments of reflection and meditation were private and personal, in my head only, I didn’t document them or talk about them with others. It was enjoyable for me to not have to discuss them with others, part of the project was something I could just do myself without having to check and manage multiple other opinions, suggestions and needs. The downside of this is that I have developed a better method of working through the creation process to achieve an outcome, but I don’t have any way of easily explaining this process to others. This did occur to me in 2017 through the process, but I honestly didn’t care as it was just for me, at the time I needed to focus on myself to get through everything that was happening.

So this year I will be using this masters course to improve on the process and outcome and also to find a better way to document and explain the process to others and myself.

What Have I done so far and what needs to happen?

Design

I have already begun the design and construction process for ‘Poseidon’s Music Box’. The design started with a combination of research into sound sculpture and geometric design, sound and nature based physics. I had initially wanted to created a sculpture of dying bleached coral using organ pipes, a droning graveyard that re-enforced the environmental issue of coal mining and its direct connection to climate change and the death of the Great Barrier Reef. I would consider myself an environmentalist, there are so many issues with the world, capitalism, greed, violence, poverty, evil motives… lets not get into those, I want to focus on something that I can change. While I work with helping the homeless on the Gold Coast, building a $5,000 whale harp from steel is not the most helpful thing for the homeless.

The design for ‘Poseidon’s Music Box’ begun on Pinterest collecting pictures from the internet and also my own photography with visual design elements that embodied the theme of coral, music, sound, mining and climate change. The concept of having coral out of its ocean environment and on the land, took me towards the succulent plant life which I have always thought looks like land coral. I have a large garden where I spend my time relaxing and meditating and the I have always been fascinated by the geometric patterns in plants and particularly succulent plants. I decided I wanted to create a large scale coral piece that mirrored the underwater coral, but was manmade, this would help explain the concept that our natural coral is dying and one day all we may have is manmade coral to remember what the coral used to look like. The concept also brought the coral issue to the people on the land, not everyone gets the opportunity to go to the reef and dive or snorkel to see the beauty and in turn effect of coral bleaching and death from climate change. I think this is the same concept as ‘Migaloo’s Song’, bringing the 1:1 size and majesty of the humpback whale to the land, so standing next to them you can see and feel the awe of the scale.

 

Migaloo's Song Night

I also wanted to include some music, not just sounds, but a music piece into the sculpture. The more I research this I find it is less ‘Sound Sculpture’ and more satisfying my interest in marvelous machines. From music boxes to Da-Vinci, perpetual ball bearing machines and orchestrion’s.

A more recent example would be something like the Wintergatan, which is amazing, but has no context to me, its just a big ass amazing machine that sort of makes music.

With all this in mind, I spent 2 months again drawing and collecting large scale and macro images and building different designs in my head. I decided early on I wanted to use chime or steel tubes to generate the musical elements instead of strings this time in order to create something more permeant and all weather. The designs ended up closer to the final concept of Poseidon’s Music Box below.

PERSPECTIVEfinal CROP More design and reflection needs to happen as the project continues. Practical concerns arise as the construction begins that require the concept design to be altered along the way. I want to try and document this as much as possible. There also needs to be a reflection on the design at each stage for simple aesthetic purposes and as my understanding of what I want to achieve with the final piece become more clear.

Construction

The construction process is fun and unknown, perhaps it is the unknown factor that makes it fun for me. Part of the desire to create sculptures is that I don’t know how to physically do it and I enjoy a challenge. I do a lot of things in my life, I have too many jobs, but I have always enjoyed doing different things, I sleep less than most people and life is too short to sit around and not get off your ass and do what makes you happy. My time with thousands of musicians, artists, 17 years of lecturing and teaching artists, has taught me that most people never overcome the fear of judgment from being creative. Its sad and depressing to see people trapped in their own minds from fears and insecurities. I have always made it my goal to change this people, I do it for my friends and my students. I have found my purpose in a lot of ways is a catalyst. Either through my words or my actions, it’s what my label does and I can see that effect I have on people in every one of my jobs.

The construction for me is a mountain to climb, it started with sculpture in 2017 where I wanted to learn how to work with metal. Wood was easy and I have built more than enough things (studios, decks, furniture) from wood, but metal was always a disaster for me. I wanted to learn how to weld and overcome the barrier to construct bigger things from steel. I have always been fascinated by steel sculptures that mimicked natural animals and life and wanted to learn to weld steel. It was probably my retirement plan to help me transition from running my businesses into stopping work and relaxing, but when it looked life I wasn’t maybe going to make it that far with the cancer and T1 diabetes, I got up and went and bought a welder. Terrible things and bad times have always snapped me into action, you can sit there and let it drag you into depression, or you can snap yourself out of it and take control of your life.

So the process of learning to weld was watching some YouTube videos and making mistakes. It’s more enjoyable for me to learn through the process and ‘Migaloo’s Song’ has all my first welds. I probably should of started with something smaller, but hey, where’s the fun in that!

For Poseidon’s Music Box, I can easily see the improvement in welding, planning and machinery. I have suppliers for steel, baring’s, gears, motors, solar and renewable energy and I have a much better understanding of the engineering requirements and the bending moments and sheer forces of steel and aluminum. I have had some fabrication advice this year from other sculptors I met through the process last year and also tradies at the supply shops. My welds are cleaner, stronger and the process is much quicker now, I’m also not physically disabled this year being off chemo and have my strength back.

I think the design and construction are combined, you can’t just design whatever you want, physical and logistical restraints need to be considered along with the design aesthetics. For me the construction is simply looking at the physical building and engineering process, but I think I will combine the design research and outcome aesthetics into the construction discussion for the months to come.

Reflection on process and research.

What do I want to know next?

Through this masters course, my direction on what I want to explore has changed and I expect it will continue to do, but each time I’m getting closer to a more defined goal. I feel like I’m spiraling, but spiraling inwards towards a central point that has clarity on what I think and feel. A month or two ago I was focused on sound sculpture and then on art activism, both of which describe what I do and what I want, but as I look at focusing my attention to a more measureable goal and exegesis question, I find that both of those aspects can be discussed with more final intent by applying what I do to the topic of how public art can affect people’s emotions and thinking.

I don’t want to go into this too much right now, I think this is going to be my main topic for the weeks to come and I want to dive into the case study on the action research cycles first so that when I explore the topic more deeply I’m coming at it with more framework for the aspects I need to focus on.

Public art (for the weeks to come)

  • Look at my own ethics and morals.
  • Seeing the relationship between my own morals, and my practice and how I present myself.
  • How can public art affect emotions and thinking in the audience?
  • How can I enact actionable changes with public art installations?
    • How can I focus my public art on a local issue? (Coal mining & Adani?)
  • How much impact does Kinetic Sound Sculpture have over static silent sculpture?

Basic Action Plan

Jan 2018

  • Research
    • Masters based research from 2017 into ‘Sound Sculpture’, affect and aesthetics, personal sculpting career aspects, public art.
  • Design & Construction
    • What do I want to design? Reflecting on how my design can inspire others, how can I affect change
    • What can I physically build and how am I going to draw a concept of this thing in my head?
    • Learning how to draw better, taking design cues from nature and science.

Feb

  • Research
    • What is Sound Sculpture?
  • Design & Construction
    • How will the sculpture work mechanically, specifics on the gears, bearings, loading values, sheer forces and bending moments, statics, math and physics.
    • How will the musical element be scored and played?
    • Where can I source all the materials?
    • How can I build it so I don’t need to hire a crane and truck again?

March

  • Research
    • Art activism and how I can enact change with my art
  • Design & Construction
    • Get stuck into the construction, start at the centre and work my way outwards on the sculpture slowly, reassess at each stage and alter design to suit the visual and practical issues.

April

  • Research
    • Public art and how I can enact change in the audience.
    • How do I measure and document the process?
    • What do I need to be doing for my exegesis?
  • Design & Construction
    • Finish basic elements and reassess how the aesthetics of the whole structure are working, what needs to be changed to achieve the effects I want.

May
(I will be on tour in japan for most of May with two different bands, so I will use this month as more research and reflection)

  • Research
    • How can I enact the change I want with my sculpture?
    • What other aspects and methods can I employ to re-enforce the concepts? (recording of the musical piece and produce a song again?)
    • How effective have others been in their public art with effecting change in people?
  • Design & Construction
    • Take lots of pics of sculpture to date so I can reflect while in Japan.

June

  • Research
    • How do I feel about the effect of the sculpture?
    • How do other people see the effect of the sculpture?
  • Design & Construction
    • Using the visuals and concept so far, compose the musical score that re-enforces the topic and end goal.
    • Embed solar panels, motor, battery and lighting into the structure.
    • Finish main structure.

July

  • Research
    • Is my sculpture fitting into the goals I have set out to achieve?
    • Deeper reflection on the overall process and am I starting to answer my exegesis question?
  • Design & Construction
    • Begin work on finishing aspects (painting and plants)

Aug

  • Research
    • Finishing up the exegesis and bringing all the thought processes together.
  • Design & Construction
    • Reflect on the design and make final alterations and submission to MCI.

Sept

  • Research
    • Collecting info and measurable feedback for my own processes.
  • Design & Construction
    • Transport and installation

 

I will start to the use the information above to mold a method around creating a repeatable process that can be modified and therefore create a model that can be measured. I will find this by looking at other models, which is where the next goal of creating a case study for the action research cycles and visual ethnography will help.