Point of Presence

Participatory artwork, Sound Installation, Te Papa Waterfront, Wellington, 24.02.10 — 27.02.10

Participatory Sound Installation and Performance
The Performance Arcade – Te Papa Waterfront

Point Of Presence was a public participatory artwork and sound installation that took place between Feb 24th and Feb 26th 2011. The work was performed as part of ‘The Performance Arcade’, a temporary village of shipping containers on the Te Papa waterfront, each containing and artwork or peformance.

The Point Of Presence container was completely filled with 1510 white balloons in the first 2 days of the event, with members of the public invited to help blow up the balloons. During this period people were invited to register for the P.O.P event where the balloons were to be popped. This invitation was also extended through the event publicity. The names or pseudonyms 191 registrants and helpers were displayed on cards by the open door.

The container was rigged with 4 track digital sound recording equipment and lit at night.

On friday 26th Feb at 6.30pm registrants assembled and were given a pin and ear plugs. They were asked to go into the full container and pop balloons. The sound of the popping was recorded and all balloons were popped by 33 people in 2 minutes and 13 seconds

The container was rigged with sound transducers which turned the walls of the container into giant speakers, and over the next 2 days the recording of the balloon popping was played back into the container and slowly faded out.

Visitors could walk in through the flexible bars on the front of the container and listen to the sound of the balloons being popped in the container full of popped balloons.

In all approximately 3 thousand visitors took part in or visited the work during the time it was installed.

Point of Presence focuses on the instant of interaction – the moment when participants become authors of the artwork, transgressing the usual boundary between artwork and viewer. Popping a balloon is normally associated with shock and the moment of popping a balloon viscerally punctuates the flow of linear time. The subsequent recording and playback create a linear mechanism of memory for the container which slowly dims as the events recede into the past.