Soundscape

Field Formation

By Sonia Leber and David Chesworth

A soundscape artwork for the forecourt of AAMI Park

Sample mp3 file

Artists Sonia Leber and David Chesworth have created a unique soundscape artwork, Field Formation, built up from patterns of highly-charged sounds that can be heard on different sports fields across Melbourne.

Traveling through the AAMI Park forecourt, you will hear the changing dynamics of teams at play across many types of fields, from youth teams starting out in the suburbs to leading teams at professional level. You will be immersed in the shimmering energies of various teams and crowds and listen to changing arrangements of individual songs, calls and chants.

The soundscape emanates from 22 individual speakers arranged throughout the forecourt. The voices are composed into sonic formations which are programmed to change over time and space, revealing different aspects with each visit to the stadium.

Artists' statement

Field Formation has allowed us to explore our fascination with the human voice and the acoustics resulting from active sports crowds, both large and small.

You will hear the urgent voices of team players in changing 'call-and-response' patterns, calling back and forth to each other in various ways as they travel across the field. At times the voices are heard in great detail in close proximity, at times they travel past in a sudden rush of action. You will also hear different surges of supporters' reactions and various individual team songs and chants recorded across Melbourne. There is also the close-up breathiness and extreme physical effort of training sessions, such as recordings of Melbourne Storm youth teams and community girls' soccer teams being put through a punishing regime of repeating drills.

We are interested in the way the human voice is used to motivate players, and the melodic and rhythmic inventiveness of the songs and chants. Some of Melbourne's unique supporters chants are represented here, including the repeating massed chants that characterise most Melbourne Victory games.

We are also fascinated by the calls of specific cultural groups which play Rugby Union, and we have included our recordings of local Hakas and group calls from South Pacific national teams. We have also worked with members of Victorian Aboriginal groups who have devised a new set of sporting chants in various local Aboriginal languages including Woiwurrung, Bunurong and Gunditjmara.

Sonia Leber and David Chesworth

Using the human voice as its principal medium, Leber and Chesworth have created a fascinating body of work since first collaborating in 1996. A chorus of female voices called for attention from the pit of a subterranean toilet block in The Gordon Assumption (2004, as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival), passers-by are beckoned, controlled and cajoled like a much-loved family pet from a wall in Canberra's City Walk (The Master's Voice, 2001), and a sonic corridor of human voices from 53 Commonwealth nations proclaim culturally significant songs on Melbourne's William Barak Bridge (Proximities, 2006, in collaboration with Simeon Nelson).

Leber and Chesworth were the awarded the third annual Helen Macpherson Smith Trust Commission in 2007, for which they created the major solo exhibition Almost Always Everywhere Apparent at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Their soundscape for the 2000 Sydney Olympics (5000 Calls) has toured to the Millennium Riverwalk in Cardiff and the Shoemaker's Footbridge in Slovenia.

For a full project history visit Wax Sound Media.

Acknowledgements

The artists wish to thank the innumerable players and supporters, young and old, who allowed us to record their games, coaching and training sessions. We are grateful to organisers from the following organisations who facilitated our access to grounds both large and small: Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Storm U18s and U20s; Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Victory kids clinics, Melbourne Victory cheer squad, Football Federation Victoria, FFV Senior Women's soccer; Victorian Rugby Union, Victorian Rugby Union Schools Gala Days, Beach Rugby Union and Sth Pacific Rugby Cup.

The artists are grateful for the participation of Vicki Couzens, Robert Bundle and Aunty Joy Murphy in devising the Aboriginal music and chants, and their warm embrace of this project. We also extend our gratitude to singers and players Robert Bamblett, Jarrah Bundle, Yaraan Bundle, Ronnie Murray, Herb Patten and Len Tregonning. We acknowledge the support of Aunty Carolyn Briggs, Chris Keeler, Koori Heritage Trust and Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.

We would also like to acknowledge Melbourne Olympic Parks. Thanks also to our colleagues at Prodigious Concepts, Resonant Designs and Rutledge Engineering for contributing to the technical realisation of this project.