The Water’s Twine

“I like that the boardwalk is tidal and that the small rivulets that run out under the boardwalk are merged and submerged with the harbour at different times of the day.” — Susan Philipsz, 2013.

The first GASP! art project, The Waters Twine, by Scottish artist Susan Philipsz was launched by the Premier Lara Giddings on the GASP! Boardwalk on January 16 during the MONA FOMA festival. It’s the first work in the GASP! art collection and we’ll be putting it up again for special events.

The Waters Twine is an 8 channel site specific sound installation on the GASP! Boardwalk. Susan visited GASP! twice in the development of the work. The work plays for approximately 7 minutes on each side of the boardwalk representing the conversation between two washer women on either side of the rivulet.

Susan Philipsz is an artist whose work engages with specific social contexts through sound. Her work draws the listener in to create the possibility of reflection, provoking the kind of recognition that often comes with music to transcend the inarticulate nature of memory and desire. She explores the relationship between sound and architecture, between listening and our understanding of location, in order to conflate the private perception of sound with negotiation of public space. Susan’s work is housed in many public and private collections and was recently part of the Edinburgh Festival and Documenta.

The Waters Twine (2013) takes inspiration from James Joyce’s 1929 audio recording of the chapter Anna Livia Plurabelle from his then forthcoming novel Finnegans Wake. The recording was set to music by composer Hazel Felman based on the pitch of Joyce’s voice in the key of D. Philipsz had a vibraphone player record the music, but asked him to record each tone from the score separately, so that the music is deconstructed and sounds fragmented. The individual notes play from the underside of the boardwalk and are projected out into the bay.

The chapter Anna Livia Plurabelle is said to be the most musical of Joyce’s writings. The text is full of alliteration and onomatopoeia, composite words that have several meanings in one. Joyce merged hundreds of river names into the text of the chapter to give it a flow and a rhythm that was reminiscent of moving water. Susan wanted to capture this ebb and flow in the sound work and have the recordings projected out on top of actual moving water. In the final lines of the book there is a majestic ending when he describes the freshwater of the river rushing to the point where it meets the salt water of the sea.

Susan’s Speech, The Waters Twine


Video Montage, The Waters Twine



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Brooker Highway 7010
Glenorchy Tasmania

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