VIDEO: Peak District gallery welcomes ‘weird’ sound art installation

For the next few weeks, a Peak District gallery will play host to one of the ‘weirdest’ arts events Derbyshire has ever seen.

‘Furniture Music’ at LEVEL in Rowsley is a new research project which allows people to ‘feel’ sounds by listening to speakers built into specially designed furniture.

Toby Heys sound art installation at The Level arts centre, Rowsley

Toby Heys sound art installation at The Level arts centre, Rowsley

The sounds are controlled from a leather-clad bench in the middle of the gallery space and, according to the organisers, the effect of the sound on people can be ‘quite astonishing’.

LEVEL director, Andy Williams, said: “This installation is a bit of research working with just one sense - sound - and going into the kind of depth that we haven’t done before.

“We’d like to know what physical effect sound has on people and whether this can add benefit to our work with people with learning disabilities.

“One of the key things about this installation is that it has as much interest for people and professions involved in how the brain works - psychologists, psychiatrics - as for artists.

The sub-bass speaker.

The sub-bass speaker.

“We often think of sounds as being emotional but this installation is about how the body actually responds to sound and shows that sound has a physical affect on the body and how we think.

“My hope is that people will be open to the experience when interacting with Furniture Music and experiencing these very unique speakers, which create sound you can’t hear that form a shower of sound above your head.

“Open minds as well as ears would be the best approach.”

LEVEL works with people with severe learning disabilities and often uses multi-sensory activities to engage people.

Part of the 'Furniture Music' installation.

Part of the 'Furniture Music' installation.

The work has been created by Dr Toby Heys from Manchester Metropolitan University who has previously exhibited his work Tate Britain and the International Digital Arts Biennial in Montreal.

Andy says what he finds interesting about the work is how it breaks down the normal boundary markers between ourselves and the world that surrounds us.

“The sub base is a unique piece of equipment using pistons capable of producing very, very low frequency sound. The effect does seem to vary enormously from person to person,” he said.

“The thing to remember that there is a strong interactive element to the installation and people can play with the low frequency sound to see how it affects them personally.”

Lewis Sykes listening to the audio.

Lewis Sykes listening to the audio.

‘Furniture Music’ will be at LEVEL in Rowsley until June 23.