White Night Melbourne 2017: The Seadragon's Lair

(Main photo by Caspian Kai Visuals & Photography)

Collaboration with aquatic scientist and filmmaker Sheree Marris and projection, video artist John Powers, for White Night Melbourne, 18 February 2017. Large-scale projection and surround soundscape in the La Trobe Reading Room, State Library of Victoria.

Designed for the La Trobe Reading Room, working with MAV. Multi-channel audio designed to rotate around 4 speaker pairs installed in the balcony, 2 more speaker pairs up in the sixth-floor balcony, and 2 speaker pairs and 2 sub-woofers in the central podium.

The Seadragon's Lair is an epic 360° underwater adventure set against the backdrop of the State Library’s majestic domed La Trobe Reading Room. The room "descends" under the waters of Port Phillip Bay, immersing the audience into a fantastic world of creatures, all filmed by Sheree and her colleagues and animated by John. The soundscape and music composition was designed to completely immerse the audience through the emotional impact of melody and sound, making something that would appeal to children and adults alike. Many different sources of underwater sounds and electronic composition layered in response to the amazing images captured by Sheree, and John's animations.

It is quite impossible to capture the sonic experience of this work in a stereo mix. The six-storey domed room is as much an instrument in this piece as it is a canvas. The soundscape was designed to work with the resonating qualities of the room - through the six minutes of the work, the frequencies build and combine. I deliberately worked with frequencies that the room would enhance, without losing definition - to create a real sense of the aural qualities of being underwater. Additional speakers on the top balcony enabled me to create a very real upward and downward movement, and therefore a sense of the room descending and then rising. This spatial separation of speakers also enabled me to make the most of the above water sequence, with birds high up in the rafters. 

A video taken from the 6th-floor level. Because of the placement of the camera near one of the speakers up there, you cannot hear the bass elements or music clearly, as those elements were not fed into the speakers in "the gods".