SITE & SOUND: Sonic art as ecological practice

… “As the bushfires, COVID-19 and increasing urgency of climate action mounted throughout 2020, the ecological concerns of the exhibition, which were largely already implicit in the works selected, took on greater emphasis. The works presented address a wide range of themes—for example the melting of the polar icecaps; species extinction and loss of biodiversity; noise and light pollution; the encroachment of urban on natural spaces; and global warming. Yet for the heaviness of this subject matter, Site & Sound is not a pessimistic exhibition. Rather it provides an opportunity for audiences to listen more closely and in doing so, forge a more meaningful connection to their environment. It encourages us to evaluate our place within the ecology of the world and the role we can play in understanding and preserving it.”

– Lisa Byrne, McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery Director

SITE and SOUND was a collaboration between SIAL Sound Studios, McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, RMIT Sonic Arts Collection and academics and students from RMIT’s College of Design and Social Context.


The exhibition and performances included 46 Australian and international artists working across diverse sound practices along with 8 contributors to the catalogue. The main exhibition space featured the SERPICO, designed by Ross Mcleod and Lawrence Harvey with technical implementation by Simon Maisch. SERPICO is a portable exhibition and performance system for creating immersive sound experience using complex speaker arrays.


Student involvement included Sensing Nature, an MDIT student led by Jeffrey Hannam exploring the design and construction of micro installations to sonify real-time environmental data; a summer studio led by Ross Mcleod to construct and install SERPICO; Inhabitation – performances curated by the Starlings collective of current and recent post-graduates; soundscape workshops by Sophie Gleeson; and curatorial work on a history of environmental sound recording by Master of Arts Industry students led by Prof David Forrest (School of Art). Additional performances were from Liquid Architecture.


For additional documentation and material on the exhibition:


List of Artists:

Steve Adam, Elizabeth Anderson, Ros Bandt, Leah Barclay, Natasha Barrett, Lisa Rae Bartolomei, Philip Brophy, Keith W Clancy, Dave Coen, Daniel Browning, Paul Carter, Christophe Charles, David Chesworth, Madelynne Cornish, Robert Curgenven, Byron Dean, Reuben Derrick, Chantal Dumas, Blended Fields, Lewis Gittus, Nat Grant, Vicki Hallett , Sarah Edwards, Lawrence English, Nigel Frayne, Susan Frykberg, Amy Hanley, Marty Kay, Gillian Lever, Bonnie Mercer, Rachel Meyers, Xen Nhà, Steaphan Paton, Josh Peters, Frans Ari Prasetyo, Sara Retallick, Douglas Quin, Philip Samartzis and Eugene Ughetti, Denis Smalley, Thembi Soddell, Tina Stefanou, Tarab, Barry Truax, Chris Watson, Jana Winderen, John Young

2020 – 2021

McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, Langwarrin

Images: Christian Capurro