The grandeur of the Australian landscape has been painted in ochres and oils, now Stephen Vitiello will immerse us for the first time in the soundscapes of this unique environment’. – John Kaldor
Internationally celebrated US sound and media artist Stephen Vitiello will create two extraordinary new art projects in Sydney this August.
Vitiello’s major work, to be installed in the historic former Brickworks at Sydney Park, is entitled The Sound of Red Earth, and is the result of extensive sound recordings captured by the artist throughout the Kimberley region in Western Australia.
Over the past year, the artist has made two week-long field trips to the Kimberley to record bird and animal calls in freshwater billabongs, the sounds of tidal flows and marine life. He has even captured the frequency of the starlight and translated it into sound.
Vitiello’s many recordings detail the natural life and environment of the region. Resonating with sound and light, the kilns at the Brickworks will be transformed into immersive environments, evoking the remote Australian landscape. Each composition will reflect a different focus: wind, water and native wildlife.
The historic Sydney Park area was first cleared for agricultural use by a marine sergeant of the first fleet and has since played a significant role in the development of the city. In the 1840s, clay was extracted and brick-making began on the site, casting the bricks used to build early Sydney suburbs and its industry. The site has recently been re-developed by the City to create a vast and vibrant community parkland and the old brick-making kilns will now be officially open to the public for the first time with this new installation.
Vitiello’s second work for Sydney, The Birds , is a sound piece based on Daphne du Maurier’s story of the same name. Inspired by the cacophony of Australian native bird life, Vitiello will ‘catch a listener by surprise as if there is suddenly a spoken voice or singing bird whispering in one’s unsuspecting ear’. The Birds will be installed outside the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Stephen Vitiello, born in the United States in 1964, started his career as a punk guitarist. Influenced by contemporary artists of the time, such as Nam June Paik with whom he worked in the early 1990s, Vitiello has since become a celebrated sound and media artist with work shown extensively across Europe and America. Vitiello was a resident artist at the World Trade Centre in 1999 where he recorded sounds from the 91st floor using home-built contact microphones. Other projects include the Cartier Foundation in Paris in 2003, the Biennale of Sydney in 2006, as well as a performance in the Tate’s turbine hall in 2006. In recent years, Vitiello has been renowned for atmospheric installations such as his project at the Broadgate Arena, London, in 2007, and most recently his project for New York’s High Line. In addition to his new Kaldor project in Sydney, Vitiello is also currently working on a new commission for Mass MoCA in the US.
Stephen Vitiello was invited to Australia by Kaldor Public Art Projects to create the 20th Kaldor Public Art Project. His new work, The Sound of Red Earth, is made possible with support from Ray Wilson, Geoff & Vicki Ainsworth and Mark & Louise Nelson.
The Sound of Red Earth, Sydney Park Brickworks, 13 August – 12 September 2010
The Birds, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 11 August – 12 September 2010
Performance: Stephen Vitiello and Lawrence English, 7:30pm, 11 August 2010, Art Gallery of NSW.