Vicky Browne - Cosmic Noise

Invisible forces made tangible

Artist Statement:

In 1965 scientists Penzias and Wilson were annoyed by a low, steady, mysterious noise that persisted in their receiver. A few months later they realised they were listening to cosmic microwave background radiation emanating from the big bang.

What resulted (among other things) were recordings of a sound that was 13.7 billion years old. Around the same time Brian Wilson (note the same last name as one of the scientists) from the Beach Boys purchased a set of wind chimes.

Wind Chimes make invisible forces audible via their materiality. Wilson felt these forces and their audibility were simultaneously compelling yet disturbing. Wilsons song Wind Chimes perfectly captures this tension. The musician lulled by the soft tinkling of the chimes is trying to fight an overwhelming desire to look at them.  For Mr Wilson the wind chimes were somehow emitting a kind of cosmic horror. They seemed to contain something bigger than just their function and materiality. The chimes were magical.

Listening to both the big bang recordings and to Wilsons Wind Chime song I was struck by the idea that these recordings were about making invisible forces tangible via their audibility. They make me think of materiality and how we are all connected. These ideas are informing the work in Cosmic Noise.

Image: Vicky Browne, Material Sound 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie pompom, Sydney. Photo by Tyler Grace Photography


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