Infinite Mass

Immersive art installation created by Gwen Stevenson for her solo exhibition at the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown, Northern Ireland.

About the Project

‘Infinite Mass’ is concerned with how we, as human beings, inhabit this world and experience our place in it. We live in both a physical world and a spiritual metaphysical world. Both exist within and around us but are experienced very differently. This work sets up a juxtaposition of forms that suggest this experience. Mass is used as a visual form to convey notions of the bounded physical domain. The unbounded metaphysical domain is conveyed by movement of sound between the forms. The tangible stationary bulk of the suspended spheres co-exist with the intangible ephemerality of the sound piece. 

Technical Details 

The work sets up a multi-channel sound installation consisting of 7 suspended spherical forms of approximately 750mm diameter. Each form acts as an individual sound source. The installation space is therefore filled with the mass of the spheres and the sounds moving between the spheres (using the Doppler effect and panning between the spheres). The spheres are fabricated from polystyrene. Their texture is derived from a spray painting process that results in a surface resembling stone. The hanging system consists of audio cables connected from speakers concealed inside each individual sphere. The spheres are suspended at various heights and at a sufficient distance apart to allow participants to walk around the installation and experience the movement of sound between the spheres. I chose to fabricate spheres because they suggest never ending cycles and are the primary symbol of eternity. One sound source is a computer generated sound from the low to the high end of the frequency spectrum. The other four sound sources are generated from white noise chosen because it spans the entire frequency spectrum, also suggesting eternity.

client quote

I worked with Gwen Stevenson on her amazing exhibition "Infinite Mass". The work was an installation-based sound and sculpture work. Exhibited in 2008, Stevenson created a multi-channel sound installation of seven suspended spherical forms with each form acted as an individual sound source. The entire exhibition space was filled with sounds and the forms moved with human movement. An example of early work and the ideas of audience engagement, this work was visionary in Ireland because the installation was one of the first to consider how the viewer would directly interact with the artwork and the space that surrounds via both their visual and audio senses. I will also add that as a curator, I found Stevenson to be a dream to work with--hard working, receptive and her integrity and commement to working with audiences and others is inspiring. Dr Megan Arney Johnston, Independent curator, museum specialist, and author of "Slow Curating: A Handbook for Socially Engaged Curating", to be published by Routledge UK Museum & Heritage in 2024.


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