This is the first public presentation of Cunningham’s extraordinary work The Listening Room. An installation, it involves a sound system – consisting of a microphone connected to a noise gate, amplifier and speaker – which allows the resonant frequencies of the gallery to become audible. At some points the system is feeding off ambient sound, at other times the room's resonance dominates, modulated by very slight acoustic changes as people move around the gallery, from humidity or from anything that causes air to move.
The system is arranged in such a way that when the microphone and loudspeaker begin to feed back the noise gate cuts off the signal. The sound stops on the loudest note, which is usually a harmonic of one of the resonant frequencies of the gallery. These frequencies are primarily determined by the distance between the wall, floor and ceiling surfaces in the space, and by the location of the system; by the time it takes a sound to travel and be reflected in three dimensions.
Born in Ireland in 1954, composer and record producer David Cunningham had his first notable success with Money (1979) by The Flying Lizards. He has composed music for a number of feature films, television programmes and dance works. His production work has included twelve albums by Michael Nyman.
A recorded version of The Listening Room is available on Silence, a CD produced as part of Art Life 21, Wacoal Art Center, Tokyo by Spiral, 1993
Supported by the London Arts Board