Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe, 2020 | Bondi, 2022
There’s a popular folk myth that says if you hold a shell to your ear–specifically, a conch shell– you can hear the sounds of the ocean. In Shell Resonance, this folk myth is brought to life with the illustrious presentation of brightly coloured conch shells lying in the palms of larger-than-life human arms. Reaching up from the sand, the work is an open invitation that encourages the audience to lean down and, like the folk myth, listen to the swell of ocean.
However, the ocean now is quite different to the ocean of our childhood. According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, between 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year. Juxtaposed next to the open waters of the ocean, Shell Resonance subverts the audience’s expectations and asks that they reflect the current state of the ocean.
With digital speakers embedded inside the conch shell, the audience hears the rustling of plastic instead of rushing waves. As the amount of plastic in the ocean increases daily, Shell Resonance aims to start a conversation with viewers, and encourages them to recognise what the ocean truly sounds like – plastic.
Artist Statement by Lawrence Liang Art.