Sonic Windows is an immersive sound environment; a meditative space that allows listeners to unplug from their audio devices and into the constant, ever changing soundscape underwater. It was successfully presented at the 2016 Wellington International Fringe Festival by Sasha Leitman and Jessie Alsop.

Using home built underwater microphones which are installed in pairs (to create a live, stereo feed), participants can listen and enjoy the sonic environment in a way which is otherwise impossible with our air-tuned ears. Taking inspiration from sailors ditty boxes, we’ve built the listening station boxes from timber reclaimed from a 60 year old boat, abandoned in the San Francisco Bay. Listeners can plug their own headphones into these boxes or use a pair provided.

Humans have long been enticed by the mystery and magic of the ocean; not just to its natural qualities, but to the histories of exploration and adventure that inspire and sometimes terrify us. It is alive with movement: sea life, shipping traffic, swimmers but despite our wonder, our senses are not built for experiencing it in an optimal way.

Water is denser than air – so visibility is heavily reduced underwater, even in ideal conditions. This density also causes sound to travel 5 times faster, and so for humans it is difficult to perceive distance and orientation. Our ears are tuned to hear in air (where our brain measures the time delay between the right ear and the left ear to tell us where a sound is coming from).

By using a stereo pair of hydrophones spaced approximately 5 head-widths apart, we’ve created a listening experience that allows us to imagine what it would be like if our bodies were more equipped for the underwater environment, an otherwise unattainable sense of listening underwater that listeners can have without getting their hair wet.

The boxes themselves are made from recycled objects from the Marine industry, a nod to the treasures and waste found in the hidden depths of the sea and also the craftsmanship, detail and durability that is demanded of objects that are used in, or near the sea.

For the Project Blog and more photo’s click here.