MONA Confessional, MONA Tasmania Australia
MONA, Tasmania, Australia
Permanent site-specific acoustic architectural intervention
Oliver has worked with the architects of the museum to create an entirely new wing in which the new facade of the building is distorted to form an acoustic cave-like formation. It is 12 metres wide and plunges three stories underground, cut out of the sandstone below. Oliver conceived the work as an ‘empty space’ which guides sound using just its geometry, no speakers or microphones.
Like his window works using lead crystal at the Fondation Hermès, Oliver has created the shape of the adapted facade of ribbed Corten steel to naturally collect sound and direct it down to a listening point 9 metres underground in the museum.
Deep underground, visitors enter the museum's lowest chamber with its bare sandstone walls. Here they are confronted with the listening point, a vast volume of piled grey felt with an unfurling spiral corridor carved into its mass its form reminiscent of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty and the cochlea of the ear. As the visitor walks around the spiral towards the centre, ambient sounds disappear and the space gets progressively quieter. This walk through silence ends at a low narrow room where you are bathed in the sounds funnelled from the geometric cave above.
Playing with the conventions of religious confessions and referencing the sound experiments of polymath Athanasius Kircher, the trajectory of sound sets up a faceless interaction between those under and above ground. Visitors can both listen and project sounds between the two points encouraging candid exchanges; and when no-one is present at the mouth, the experience of a Cageian wash of atmospheric sounds.
Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Jesse Hunniford.