What do you think this place will this place sound like in the future?
The Sound Capsule was developed at Art Play through the New Ideas Lab. It was buried at Birrarung Marr in April 2021, with a plaque inviting kids to unearth it in 100 years!
The Sound Capsule is an invitation for kids to stretch their notions of time, to notice and nurture their sonic environment, and to create a gift that reaches out to connect with kids in the future.
Artists Justin Marshall and Aviva Endean worked together with children at Art Play over 3 phases of workshops to develop the materials. They spent lots of time, imagining what this place might have sounded like long into the past, and what it might sound like way out into the future They were recording sounds, imitating sounds and inventing onomatopoeia, and trying to draw, and to map sound, in order to develop lots of different modes of storing sonic information inside the specially designed sound capsule.
Concept and direction: Aviva Endean & Justin Marshall
With children at Art Play: Oska, Nyssa, Rose, Chris, Maverick, Axel, Isla, Abagail, Ada, Henry, Maya, Charlotte, Layla, Elliot, Cooper, Isabella, Zavier, Zach, Clarissa, Ahana, Taylor, Robert, Chris, Coco, Momoka, Evelyn, Lowri, Matilda, Billy, Khepa, Oscar, Henry, Hogan, Evan, Eden, Saskia, Sarah, Olivia, Ava, Eisa, Hazel, Talia, Indah, Freddie, Maverick, Oliver, Elise, Toshihiro, Yoshiharu, Raissa, Ela, Obi, Oliver, Anton, Zayd, Eesa, Gulli, Odessa, and Anouk
Graphic Design: Elwyn Murray
This project was seeded by City of Melbourne through Art Play’s New Ideas Lab
In addition to this sound collage, the Sound Capsule contains a vinyl record and an M disc, a sound map, a graphic score made up of kids drawings, instructions to retrace the steps of the sound walk that they did together, photos, and a letter to future humans.
Hear the Sound Collage we made together below or on bandcamp
You can read the letter we wrote to future humans below:
Hello future humans,
You have just uncovered a Sound Capsule which was buried here as a gift for you by the kids at Art Play way back in 2021!
This place, on Wurundjeri land, on the banks of the Birrarung/Yarra River is very special to us, and we’d love to know how it sounds different now than it did way back then when we made this.
Can you still hear the great bass rumbling of trams going overhead down by the water under Swanston St? Are there still gangs of seagulls squabbling over office worker’s lunch scraps? Does the wind still rustle through the majestic gums up near the Federation Bells? Oh yeah, are the bells still ringing out up there 3 times a day?
Listening takes time, and it takes attention too. It can be easy to forget to listen to what’s around you, and people who make maps and time capsules almost never include what a place sounded like. We tried to imagine what it would have sounded like here 50 years ago, or 200 years ago before the river was straightened and deepened and the waterfall down stream was flattened out… but it was really hard.
Sounds are fleeting and fragile, and because they’re hard to pin down and preserve, maybe we don’t take enough care of them. We wanted to make a special place to send some of our sounds into the future, so that you can be transported back to when we were here. It’s almost as cool as time travel… Wait, have you invented real time travel yet?!
In the Sound Capsule, there are a few different things for you to discover:
On the record there is a Sound Collage made from recordings we made around this place. Recordings of our favourite sounds, the ones we hope you can still hear in the future.
We put all these sounds together to make a story of this place now.
We also recorded some questions we wanted to ask you.
We hope you still have record players… If not, if you run a small piece of metal along the grooves of the vinyl and connect the metal to a cone, you’ll hear our sounds come out.
The M disc and DVD player:
This special kind of disc is made up of ground up rock and is supposed to be able to last 500 years! There is a digital copy of everything in the Sound Capsule on here.
The Sound Map:
We made this sound map based on what we can hear when we were walking and listening around Birrarung Marr. Each layer of the sound map represents how close the sounds are to us. The first layer in the close sounds (like bikes riding past, and the gentle lapping of the water) The second layer is the distant sounds (like chatter on the other side of the river bank and trains pulling into the station) and the last layer is our future imagined sounds- how much did we get right?
A Sound Walk Guide:
This guide will explain to you how to retrace the steps of the sound walk that we did way back in 2021. Start from the front door of Art Play, or if Art Play isn’t here anymore the coordinates are here: 5XJC+MJ Melbourne, Victoria.
We’ve included photos of the sites that are part of our sound map, and the places where we made the recordings. There are also a few polaroid snaps of the kids who performed with the Letter String Quartet, to celebrate the burial of the Sound Capsule on the 14th of April 2021.
We made a graphic score based on the sounds we heard around here. It is designed to be played by a group of string players and a group of kids playing homemade instruments and percussion . If you want to play it again that would be so cool!
We made this Sound Capsule as a gift for you- future kids who we can only just imagine right now. We hope you enjoy uncovering what’s inside…
Lots of Love, from the kids at Art Play…
Oska, Nyssa, Rose, Chris, Maverick, Axel, Isla, Abagail, Ada, Henry, Maya, Charlotte, Layla, Elliot, Cooper, Isabella, Zavier, Zach, Clarissa, Ahana, Taylor, Robert, Chris, Coco, Momoka, Evelyn, Lowri, Matilda, Billy, Khepa, Oscar, Henry, Hogan, Evan, Eden, Saskia, Sarah, Olivia, Ava, Eisa, Hazel, Talia, Indah, Freddie, Maverick, Oliver, Elise, Toshihiro, Yoshiharu, Raissa, Ela, Obi, Oliver, Anton, Zayd, Eesa, Gulli, Odessa, and Anouk, our graphic designer Elwyn Murray, and our sound obsessed friends Aviva Endean and Justin Marshall.