The Swimming Pool – 21 December

The idea of putting wallpaper into a room containing a swimming pool came up during one of the Sonic Wallpaper interviews.

Other people who looked at the wallpaper found it reminiscent of the sea and the sky on sunny foreign holidays, and in listening to the interviews I found myself thinking about how to slip between the two worlds of the sea and the swimming pool, drifting from the interior soundscape inside a swimming pool to the extrerior soundscape of the seaside. People in general have seemed to enjoy how this wallpaper plays a sort of visual trick, with many suggesting that the design conveys an illusion of carved stone through which the sky can be glimpsed. I wanted to continue that trick into sound and especially to play with moving between interior and exterior spaces.

In order to do this, I knew I would need long stretches of field-recordings created both beside the sea, and inside a swimming pool. The sea is easy to record, but swimming pools are hard; it is difficult to get close to the source of the sound without risking dropping your equipment into the swimming pool! Luckily, I know of a swimming pool which is built in the old Edwardian style. It features changing rooms facing directly onto the pool, each containing handy hooks and benches for microphones to dangle from while you splash about in the water. The thin doors of the changing rooms do dampen the sound somewhat, but I think that enough of the noise travels through to suggest a swimming pool, with all that sloshing water, and the long resonant acoustics of a space with no fabrics or furnishings and quite a high ceiling.

You can hear where the swimming pool and the sea images mix in the Sonic Wallpaper piece created in response to BADDA 2298.

I have one copy of the Sonic Wallpapers book to give to someone who would like to have a domestic listening experience for themselves! The book has all 18 wallpaper designs from the MoDA collection used in this project, and a CD in the back which contains all the soundpieces. There are introductions both by myself and Zoe Hendon who is the curator of MoDA, and notes on what people said, and what sounds were recorded, for each wallpaper included in the project.

Sonic Wallpapers book

Sonic Wallpapers CD

To win a copy of the book, you just need to leave a comment here about a wallpaper that you remember from your life, and one sound you recall from the room where that wallpaper was. If you cannot think of a wallpaper design and a sound, you could also leave one thought/response you have to this project. On 24th December, I will draw a number at random and post out a copy of the book to the winner!

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