Dawn Scarfe’s installation for the Roman Theatre’s Fresco House and terrace consists of a series of acoustic listening vessels sensitive to the sound of their environment. Volumes of air inside each vessel vibrate at specific rates, with larger cavities responding to lower pitched sounds and smaller bodies answering to higher registers.
A mix of small microphones, transmitters and speakers inside the vessels allow playful exchanges of acoustic space among the objects and their surroundings.
The glasses are modelled on scientific resonators dating from the 19c that were used to identify particular tones or notes in the sound of musical instruments. The larger earthenware pots are reminiscent of ‘echea’ or acoustic jars used to enhance the ambience in Greek and Roman theatres. Both forms remind us that sound waves are physical, measurable, and affective, and their influence extends beyond the limits of the human senses.