Material Sound

25/09/2020 - 27/11/2022

  • Soft Synth No.1
    Pia van Gelder Soft Synth No.1 , 2018
    installation view, Murray Art Museum Albury, 2018
    Image Credit
    Tyler Grace

About the exhibition

Material Sound brings together a group of contemporary artists who each create an experience of sound within installations and apparatus constructed from everyday materials.

Sound is often thought of as immaterial and while perpetually present – there is no such thing as true silence – it is frequently neglected. A visual experience will commonly be afforded primacy over an aural one. Recently the contemporary arts have turned to sound and in doing so have incorporated a greater spectrum of the senses.

If we accept that sound is an encounter with a sound wave – one that has a physical effect on our body – then our attention can turn to the circumstances that produced that sound through the material that produced it. The artists in Material Sound lay this process bare for us. Their artworks invite us to observe and in some cases, participate in, the mechanics of sound production and appreciate the physicality of sound. Employing handmade instruments and electronics, recycled electronic components, outmoded or fake technologies, imagined sounds and silence, the works form a series of dynamic installations that challenge the way we think about materiality in a cumulative sound experience.

Curated by Dr Caleb Kelly and developed by the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA), Material Sound features newly commissioned work by artists Vicky Browne, Pia van Gelder, Caitlin Franzmann, Peter Blamey, Ross Manning, and Vincent and Vaughan Wozniak-O'Connor, whose work and practice investigates sound and materials within art and performance.

Material Sound has emerged from Caleb Kelly’s ongoing engagement with sound in contemporary practice. Over a 20-year period, Kelly has developed an acute sensitivity to how sound shapes our experience of art. His research, writing and exhibition projects encourage us to move our attention beyond the visual to embrace a more complete bodily experience of the work we encounter in art spaces.

The artists in Material Sound are at the forefront of an international interest in the material qualities of sound and its modes of generation. In Australia, this interest particularly addresses the ecological consequences of the materials we so readily consume and discard. They work in ways that expand our sense of how art is made and how it affects us, how we think about and listen to art.

All of the works presented in the exhibition approach material practice in a ‘what you see is what you get’ manner. The work develops from a physical engagement with the elements that produce sound and a tactile, hands-on approach to media making. There are no hidden circuits, no black boxes holding secreted away technologies and no obtuse digital coding. These artists have foregone the digital studio.

About the artists

Peter Blamey is a Sydney-based artist. His work investigates the relationships between people, technologies and their environments, often by exploring their related energies and residues.

Vicky Browne is based in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Her practice is concerned with familial sound technology, music culture and consumption.

Caitlin Franzmann is a Brisbane-based artist who explores contemporary art’s potential to instigate change by way of critical listening, dialogue and self-empowerment.

Pia van Gelder is a Sydney-based electronic artist and researcher. Her work involves designing and building electronic instruments that are presented in performance and interactive installation contexts.

Ross Manning is a Brisbane based artist. His work draws together everyday household items that produce light and sound.

Vincent and Vaughan Wozniak-O'Connor are twin brothers, interdisciplinary artists, writers and curators based in Sydney. Collaborative works include electronic devices, sound generators, and photographic pieces. 

Touring Venues
and Dates


A Murray Art Museum Albury exhibition, curated by Caleb Kelly and presented nationally by Museums & Galleries of NSW


This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.