Annie Dunning
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cochlea cochlea net detail
shell detail
Cochlea is a sculpture that proposes the form of a snail shell as an organic sound space and listening device. Cast in glass, this large-scale version of a shell is supported on a wave of bronze cast net.

The experience of holding a shell to an ear is a sonic experiment we have all performed. Listening to 'the ocean' in a shell creates a mirroring of similar structures: the spiral of the shell and the spiral-shaped organ of the inner ear from which this sculpture takes its name.

In this work I wanted to use the architecture of a snail's shell to experiment with how this form bends sound. Inserting a small microphone into the core of the glass shell, and then playing a recording of waves to be re-recorded by the internal microphone created the soundtrack that accompanies the sculpture. The sound is altered as it travels through the spiral of the shell. This new track was then played through the shell, and again recorded. After about six passes through the glass shell the water sounds become completely transformed.