The Sonic Room is a huge outdoor sound installation created by Plymouth artist Lee Mcdonald, the speakers created noise which was amplified within the walls of the Sonic Room, as the sound waves passed through the rotating exterior, sound was distorted to create an amazing outdoor soundbath.
Did you see these cut out ladies pointing to various buildings in September? If so, it was only the Bristol Biennial – and if you didn’t follow the point then you missed it! But it’s okay because I’m here to explain the lowdown… Plymouth-born Lee Mcdonald created this kinetic sculpture as a means of testing the boundaries of sound and physics within creative circumstances.
The installation took place in the outdoor space in the Baggator in Easton, it’s a community led space which hosts a youth club every Saturday. When we turned up to volunteer we were keen to get the kids involved afterall they had already helped paint the Sonic Room the week before. The Baggator was alive with sound as the kids made noise with the amplifying powers of the Sonic Room. It was at around 4pm when the barbecue was in full swing that Lee hooked up the speakers to some music, James Blake came pumping out of the speakers and it begun to rotate as Lee manually pushed the handle inside which caused a kinetic motion and distorted the sound as it did so.
As I stood infront of the Sonic Room, the sun peered itself from out behind the clouds and I suddenly felt transported to a Glastonbury field or a Secret Garden party DJ set, only to discover that Lee has taken the Sonic Room to the latter festival. In a way, it felt like a performance and as the song came to an end I felt the urge to clap which was completely unexpected.
Within the interior you could see the inner workings of the Sonic Room and the way in which the piece was made with (mostly) found materials. The cushions, carpet and bean bag reminded me of a house party which was further felt when I saw a group of people sat inside clutching cans of Red Stripe.
This instrument was made out of a single piece of fine wood and string but made an awesome sound when it was played in the Sonic Room, one volunteer even brought in a guitar earlier on in the week which was fantastic. I would have loved to have seen this in a grassy open space where musicians had been targeted to come in and make noise.
Later on in the Baggator, a Touch of Class sound system hire brought some reggae to the table creating a sound fusion with Lee’s work.
More information about Lee Mcdonald here
The Bristol Biennial site can be found here
Read about my volunteering experience at the Bristol Biennial here
Read my post about the 6 highlights of the Bristol Biennial here