Sarah Birchall

Singing Pipes, audio piece in binaural, 2 minutes 2 seconds, 2021

Image description: Image shows a white air ventilation pipe suspended from the ceiling.

My practice consists of site-specific sound installations which explore the relationship between sound and architectural structures, such as pipes, radiators and beams. These structures, often found in everyday architecture, reveal harmonic tones through physical interaction known as structural resonance.

In my installations, I direct my audience to objects that are regarded as banal and functional and to think of them as having sonorous characteristics. To do this, the sound of the structure is recorded and then played back onto itself through the attachment of speakers or transducers. The speakers’ placement on the structures are minimal, sometimes hidden, challenging the audience’s expectations of the installation and prompting them to discover the sounds’ origin. Depending on the structure’s formation, the speakers are subject to unconventional surround-sound setups which shape the sound’s trajectory in a space. It invites the listener to unusual listening experiences and transforms their perception towards architectural structures.

My curiosity with sound is reinforced by the fact that I am hard-of-hearing. This is my primary relationship to sound; my hearing range and my hearing aids shape how I perceive my surroundings. It is through my setup and my method that my installations mirror the exploration and intense concentration to sounds that I experience every day. I bring together audio and visual perspectives through the use of technology and architecture.

Link to audio:

Instagram: @sarahbirchall_artist