Swim Sound

swimming in sound

Swim Sound, a unique and immersive musical performance, took place at the historic Champagne Baths pool as part of the Electric Fields festival. This collaboration between composer and percussionist Jesse Stewart and new media artist Rob Cruickshank explored the relationship between sound and space in the unique acoustic environment of a public pool.

Start: 23/11/2008

End: 26/11/2008

Swim Sound, an experimental performance at the Electric Fields festival, transformed Ottawa’s historic Champagne Baths pool into a one-of-a-kind sonic landscape. Composer Jesse Stewart, stationed on a floating platform, created mesmerizing sounds using a waterphone, submerged gongs, and a water-drenched drum set. Above, new media artist Rob Cruickshank electronically manipulated the sounds, adding layers and loops, to create an immersive and otherworldly atmosphere. The audience, both in the pool and on the mezzanine, were invited to experience the performance from different perspectives, some even venturing underwater to feel the vibrations and hear the ethereal underwater echoes. Due to its popularity, a second, improvised performance was added, showcasing the dynamic and evolving nature of this unique collaboration between music, art, and environment.

Jesse Stewart & Rob Cruickshank

Audience members will also be treated to a performance of Stewart’s waterphone: an instrument constructed from bronze rods welded to a metal base that contains water. When struck or bowed, the vibrations of the bronze rods resonate through the hollow base. Sloshing the water around inside the base warps the sound, creating a series of eerie bent notes. The sound this instrument produces has a strangely electronic quality—an ambiguity the artists want to harness. They will blend acoustic and synthesized sounds and physical and electronic manipulation, to the point where it will be difficult to discern the difference between the two.