A convergence of three senses: Di Mainstone introduces Soundpit

Can you hear colour? Can you feel sound? These are just two of the questions posed by the sensory Soundpit, a pioneering, boundary-blurring interactive installation for the 21st century, which comes to Southbank Centre from February to June, 2019.

‘So’, you’re probably wondering ‘what is it?’ Well, in essence, it is a sand pit, or rather a collection of sand pits, that anyone can play, like an instrument. But realising our own bumbling attempt at an explanation may not be helpful, we spoke to the creator of Soundpit, artist Di Mainstone, to get a better understanding of this remarkable installation.

Di, thank you for speaking to us, and for bringing your work to Southbank Centre. How would you describe, Soundpit?

Soundpit is an immersive experience, where the audience get the chance to create sounds and visuals by playing with sand. Soundpit is about the convergence of three of the senses - sound, vision and touch, exploring the effect this sensorial mix has on our thoughts, mood, creativity and well being.

Sound is integral to many of your works, what drew you to create sonic sculptures?

I initially trained as a fashion designer at Central Saint Martins, but left the fashion world 14 years ago to explore how technology might be integrated into wearables. I did this at different future labs around the world; in Banff, Montreal, New York, Boston, Rotterdam and more. I began by embedding motion sensors that tracked your movement into wearables and worked with dancers, musicians and coders to transform physical movement into sound. 

Over time these wearable musical instruments became more abstract and began to look less like clothing and more like body-centric sculptures or sonic prosthetics. I found that the way I could make more of these crazy instruments was by doing artist residencies, and so I became an artist as well as a designer. 

I see Soundpit as a body-centric musical instrument - one that melds and moves with your body as you trail your hands through the sand or lie down and wave your arms like a sand angel - you should definitely try this for yourself by the way, in our giant new dune pits.

Soundpit
This image: a child interacts with Soundpit. Main image: artist Di Mainstone with her installation. Photos by Pete Woodhead.

How did you arrive at Soundpit as a piece? Was there something in particular that inspired it’s creation?

I was curious about the phenomena of synaesthesia, which is when a sensation in one of the senses triggers a sensation in another. I wanted to see if we could create a musical machine that would allow people to see and touch sound as well as hear it. Sand seemed to be the perfect tactile interface.

Obsessed with finding a way to make music with sand I found a golden opportunity when I was awarded the position of Artist in Residence for the European City of Science, Manchester 2016. I formed a cross-disciplinary team and Soundpit was developed in a live laboratory during Manchester's Science in the City festival, with input from musicians (Architects of Rosslyn), coders (Wetgenes), neuroscientists and members of the public. The final Soundpit installation was shown during Manchester Science Festival at the Salford University's Science Jam. 

I wanted to see if we could create a musical machine that would allow people to see and touch sound as well as hear it.
Di Mainstone

Did you have any expectations as to how people will interact with Soundpit?

Everyone has their own idea about how Soundpit can be played. Soundpit opens up the art of music making to all, regardless of age and ability. It would be nice to think that the experience may be therapeutic in some way. Perhaps Soundpit will be a new kind of immersive musical instrument for the 21st century.

Of course you’ve already seen Soundpit in situ in Manchester and Bradford, before bringing it to Southbank Centre, what’s the most interesting reaction to the piece you’ve seen?

One of the things that struck me during the first installation at the Manchester Science Festival was the intimacy of the experience. People would gather around each sandpit and talk in a philosophical way. Groups of children would delve into the sand and discuss how the combination of texture, sound and light made them experience a certain sensation or emotion. I repeatedly overheard the phrase “this makes me feel like…” Often these thoughts would trail-off before reaching a conclusion as the philosopher was struck by a new idea, sensation or audio-visual shift that they had not yet seen.  

My all-time favourite feedback was during the Soundpit installation at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. An octogenarian couple would visit regularly during the afternoon and were often seen taking their shoes and socks off, rolling up their trousers and playing in the large floor pit.  

 


 

Soundpit by Di Mainstone is at Southbank Centre from 13 February to 2 June, 2019.

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Fred Eversley on Untitled (1971) | Space Shifters

Fred Eversley at Space Shifters | In The Gallery

In this short video aerospace engineer turned artist Fred Eversley introduces his work Untitled (1971), which is currently on show in Space Shifters at Hayward Gallery. 

Constructed using a repurposed turntable originally used by the American military, Untitled (1971) is a parabolic lens made from violet, amber and blue polyester resin.

  

It’s a perfect parabolic lens, the only shape that transforms all sources of energy into a single focal point.
Fred Eversley, on Untitled (1971)

 

From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.

current & upcoming exhibitions

 

Space Shifters: meet the curator

Space Shifters | Meet the Curator | Hayward Gallery

Space Shifters is a major group exhibition that brings together sculptures and installations from 20 different artists that explore perception and space. Spanning a period of roughly 50 years, the exhibition features works from the 1960s as well as new commissions that have been made in response to the gallery’s architecture.

In this video, Hayward Gallery Senior Curator Dr Cliff Lauson introduces the exhibition and a number of its works, including WeltenLinie (2017) by Alicja Kwade, Narcissus Garden (1966-2018) by Yayoi Kusama, and Richard Wilson’s 20:50 (1987).

  

Space Shifters asks you to look at space in a different way, and to look at each other in a different way.
Dr Cliff Lauson, Senior Curator, Hayward Gallery

 

From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.

current & upcoming exhibitions

Richard Wilson discusses 20:50 (1987) | Space Shifters

Richard Wilson at Space Shifters | In The Gallery

Sculptor Richard Wilson discusses some of the ideas behind his dramatic installation 20:50 (1987), touching on the events that first led to him flood an entire gallery with used engine oil back in 1987.

Wilson’s dramatic installation was on show at Hayward Gallery until 6 January, 2019 as part of Space Shifters.

  

all of my work is about challenging our preconceptions of the world
Richard Wilson on his installation 20:50 (1987)

 

From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.

current & upcoming exhibitions

Narcissus Garden (1966–2018) by Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden (1966–2018) – an installation consisting of hundreds of stainless steel reflective orbs – addresses what the prolific artist has identified as her principle themes: ‘infinity, self-obliteration, and compulsive repetition in objects and forms’.

Yayoi Kusama, Narcissus Garden, 1966–2018. Installation view Hayward Gallery, London, 2018 © and courtesy the artist. Photo: Mark Blower 

 

Kusama first staged this installation as a large-scale, unofficial intervention at the 1966 Venice Biennale. During this intervention, the artist sold the mirrored balls – which in this early version of the work were plastic – for the equivalent of two dollars each, next to a sign that read ‘Your Narcissism for Sale’. Since then, Kusama has recreated the installation in a variety of settings, both indoors and outdoors. In each new iteration the spheres create the impression of a shimmering, liquid landscape.

 

 


 

Narcissus Garden (1966–2018) exhibited in Space Shifters at Hayward Gallery, 26 September 2018 - 6 January 2019

From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.

current & upcoming exhibitions

 

Olafur Eliasson: four of the artist’s most famous installations

The work of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has been exhibited at some of the biggest museums, galleries and shows in the world, including MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, the Venice Biennale, and our own Hayward Gallery. On the publication of his new illustrated book, Olafur Eliasson: Experience, he returned to Southbank Centre to join us as part of London Literature Festival, for a talk about his work and themes.

But before Eliasson took to our Queen Elizabeth Hall stage we thought we’d take look back at four of the most iconic installations from an artist who seeks to make his art relevant to society at large, and engage the public be they inside or outside the gallery.

 

The Weather Project, 2003

The weather project, 2003, monofrequency lamps, projection screen, haze machines, foil mirror, aluminium, scaffolding, 26.7 x 22.3 x 155.44 m (87 5⁄8 x 73 1⁄8 x 510 ft), installation view at Tate Modern, London, 2003. Picture credit: Tate photography, Andrew Dunkley & Marcus Leith


 

Eliasson’s most celebrated large-scale installation and the one for which he will perhaps be most well-known to a British audience. In 2003 Eliasson’s The Weather Project transformed the Tate Modern’s huge Turbine Hall into a captivating artificial environment with representations of the sun and sky dominating the space. The site-specific work drew over two million visitors to the gallery.

 

The New York City Waterfalls, 2008

The New York City Waterfalls, 2008 (four waterfalls positioned along New York’s East River), water, scaffolding, steel grillage and troughs, pumps, piping, intake filter pool frames and filter fabric, LED lights, ultra-violet filters, concrete, switch gears, electrical equipment and wiring, control modules, anemometers. Picture: creative commons


 

Commissioned by the Public Art Fund, The New York City Waterfalls was a temporary installation,which ran from mid-July to mid-October 2008. The piece consisted of four huge man-made waterfalls, constructed from scaffolding, which were located along New York’s East River.

 

Your Rainbow Panorama, 2011

Your rainbow panorama, 2006–11, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark. Picture credit: Lars Aarø


 

This permanent work, set atop the ARoS Kunstmuseum in Denmark, consists of a circular walkway enclosed by multicolored transparent panels representing the full color spectrum. Extending from one edge of the museum's façade to the other, the vivid rainbow hues invite visitors to walk around the structure, experiencing panoramic city views through the various tones.

 

Ice Watch, 2014

Ice Watch, 2014, (with Minik Rosing), 12 blocks of glacial ice, dimensions variable, installation views at Place du Panthéon, Paris, 2015. Picture credit: Martin Argyroglo


 

For Ice Watch Eliasson harvested twelve large blocks of ice cast off from the Greenland ice sheet from a fjord outside Nuuk, and then presented them in a clock formation. The first installation of Ice Watch was in Copenhagen’s City Hall Square in October 2014, followed by a second installation at Paris’ Place du Panthéon. The work raises awareness of climate change by providing a direct and tangible experience of the reality of melting arctic ice.

 

Jacket of Olafur Eliasson Experience

All of the above works are featured in the artist’s new book Olafur Eliasson: Experience, which spans the career of the artist todate. The book is published by Phaidon and available now.

Southbank Centre is the home of literature and spoken word events in the UK, and the venue for London Literature Festival and Poetry International. Throughout the year we host talks, discussions, readings and more featuring bestselling authors, award-winning poets and inspirational writers.

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Sky Mirror, Blue (2016) by Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror, Blue (2016) is situated on one of Hayward Gallery’s outdoor sculpture terraces. This concave mirror doesn’t just reflect but also transforms the space around it; turning the reflected world upside down, it also saturates it in blue.

Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror, Blue, 2016. Installation view Hayward Gallery, London, 2018 © Anish Kapoor. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2018. Photo: Mark Blower

 

‘Concave objects do strange things to space’, Kapoor has said. ‘The space of the object is no longer on its surface, nor is it contained within the boundaries of the physical object’. Sky Mirror, Blue encourages what the artist has described as ‘a sort of metaphysical looking’: rather than looking at the artwork, we find ourselves looking through it and beyond it.

I’m interested in contradiction. In the idea that what you see isn’t quite what you think you see.
Anish Kapoor

 

 

Sky Mirror, Blue (2016) exhibited in Space Shifters at Hayward Gallery, 26 September 2018 - 6 January 2019.

From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.

current & upcoming exhibitions

Space Shifters: Your Instagram images from 'the most Instagrammable exhibition'

‘Is this the year’s most Instagrammable exhibition?’ asked Hettie Judah in her review of our new Hayward Gallery show, Space Shifters, for the i. Two weeks in, and with our Instagram notifications pinging away like an office microwave at lunchtime, there certainly seems to be a strong argument for answering Judah’s question in the affirmative.

Bringing together the work of 20 different artists, Space Shifters features innovative, minimalist sculpture from the 1960s, as well as recent works that extend the legacy of this ‘optical’ minimalism in different ways, and a number of commissions which have been made in response to the architecture of the Hayward Gallery. With many of the artworks constructed from translucent or reflective materials - enabling us to see our surroundings in new and unexpected ways - it’s not hard to see why so many people visiting the exhibition have been reaching for their smartphones to capture their experience.

So, instead of sharing more of our own images of this remarkable exhibition, we thought why not let you convey its appeal for us? Here, for your visual enjoyment, are some of our favourites from your Instagram images of Space Shifters so far.

 

Fred Eversley Untitled (Parabolic Lens) (1971)

The violet, amber and blue Untitled (Parabolic Lens) (1971) was made by Aerospace engineer turned artist, Eversley, using a repurposed turntable originally used by the American military.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by 〰 Silvia 〰 (@silvia.giu) on

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Danielle C (@dscseventytwo) on

 

Ann Veronica Janssens Magic Mirrors (Pink #2 and Blue) (2013-2017)

Janssens's Magic Mirrors (Pink #2 and Blue) consist of shattered panes of 'safety glass' held between sheets of intact glass. A filter between the panes allows light to pass through the panes selectively, with the result that the light they cast and the reflections on their surfaces are different to what we expect.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @faspinos on

 

Anish Kapoor Sky Mirror, Blue (2016)

Situated on one of Hayward Gallery's outdoor sculpture terraces, this concave mirror achieves the contradictory feat of bringing the sky down to the ground.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Studio Luca Bombassei (@studio_luca_bombassei) on

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @spacecat_0112 on

 

Monika Sosnowska Handrail (2016-18)

Sosnowska’s Handrail (2016–18) is first encountered by the visitor two-thirds of the way up Hayward Gallery’s back staircase, where it wraps itself, vine-like, around the existing rail before taking off across the gallery wall in an energetic dance.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by markus (@kussmark) on

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by 〰 Silvia 〰 (@silvia.giu) on

 

Richard Wilson 20:50 (1987)

For this installation, first presented in Matt’s Gallery, London, Wilson floods an entire room with used engine oil, leaving only a narrow passageway through the centre.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tara (@tazanna) on

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Dean Johnson (@deanjohnson0308) on

 

Jeppe Hein 360° Illusion V (2018)

For 360° Illusion V (2018), Hein placed two large mirrored panels at right-angles to one another. As well as reflecting the surrounding environment, each mirror also reflects its twin.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by F•/L•\p (@the.f.name) on

 

Felix Gonzalez-Torres "Untitled" (Golden) (1995)

Exhibited floor-to-ceiling, Gonzalez-Torres’s "Untitled" (Golden) creates a shimmering threshold through which every visitor must pass.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Stuart Carter (@stu_pc) on

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @faspinos on

 

Alicja Kwade WeltenLinie (2017)

In WeltenLinie, Kwade creates the impression of sudden and surprising material transformations through the use of double-sided mirrors and the careful placement of objects.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Karel (@karel.kies) on

 

Yayoi Kusama, Narcissus Garden (1966-2018)

First staged as a large-scale, unofficial intervention at the 1966 Venice Biennale, Narcissus Garden (1966–2018), consists of hundreds of stainless steel reflective orbs.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Studio Luca Bombassei (@studio_luca_bombassei) on

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vasko Stefano (@vaskostefano) on

 

Space Shifters was at Hayward Gallery from 26 September ,2018 until 6 January, 2019. 

From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.

current & upcoming exhibitions

 

Handrail (2016–2018) by Monika Sosnowska

Monika Sosnowska’s work explores the psychological impact of architectural space. Interested in the way that architecture can influence behaviour and, on a larger scale, help shape society and reflect political ideologies, the artist uses familiar architectural elements and materials to create disorientating installations, spaces and objects.

Monika Sosnowska, Handrail, 2016–18. Installation view Hayward Gallery, London, 2018 © and courtesy the artist. Photo: Mark Blower

 

Many of Sosnowska’s sculptures draw on and subvert the existing architectural logic of their host building. Her PVC and metal Handrail (2016–18) wraps itself, vine-like, around one of Hayward’s existing rails. In this architectural intervention, mid-20th century Central European architecture and its British post-war equivalent become briefly and symbolically entwined. Regaining its composure at the top of the stairs, Sosnowska’s handrail soon takes off again, snaking across the gallery walls in an energetic dance that leaves function, and the viewer, far behind.

my works are … about introducing chaos and uncertainty. They make reality stop being obvious.
Monika Sosnowska

 

 

 

Handrail (2016-18) exhibited in Space Shifters at Hayward Gallery, 26 September 2018 - 6 January 2019.

From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.

current & upcoming exhibitions

Space Shifters: video exhibition preview

Space Shifters | Hayward Gallery | 26 September 2018 - 6 January 2019

Space Shifters is Hayward Gallery’s new perception-altering exhibition. Showcasing the work of 20 international artists, it features spectacular installations, kinetic sculptures and ambitious site-specific artworks. Get a first look at the mind-bending effects of some of the exhibited works in our walk-through video.

  

***** whatever you do, don’t miss this one
Evening Standard
*****
The Observer

Space Shifters was at Hayward Gallery from 26 September, 2018 until 6 January, 2019.
 

From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.

current & upcoming exhibitions

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