The Organ of Corti is a structure in the cochlea of the inner ear that produces nerve impulses in response to sound vibrations. The auditory sculpture and winner of the New Music Award 2010 echoes the medical nomenclature as The Organ of Corti, is an acoustic device created by liminal, the sound consultancy of architect Frances Crow and composer David Prior. A four metre tall installation of transparent sonic crystals that absorbs the City’s traffic noise and transforms it into music. From Friday 01 July – Thursday 07 July The Organ of Corti was installed next to St Paul’s Cathedral, for its very first outing before embarking to travel the country. ’The judges were inspired by the ability of The Organ of Corti to: ‘challenge the notion of what it is to listen’…‘remind us of the value of sound and how beautiful it can be’…’provide an antidote to the sound saturated, digital world in which we live
The sound sculpture consists of a number of vertical cylinders of differing sizes that can change their design in relation to the sounds of the site and location, as the spacing and arrangement of the cylinders alters the frequency through them and filters the sounds. The project uses sonic crystals that modulate the sound as it passes through the sculpture, created in collaboration with the Keith Attenborough, a research professor at the Acoustics Group Open University
The work developed from research into the relationship between health, sound and well-being. In its current form it has the ability to reuse existing sound such as traffic noise and waterfalls, filtering it to produce new harmonic sounds, which change according to the postion of the listener. Liminal describe, “the potential of recycling unwanted sounds from our environment into new music. The Organ of Corti challenges expectations of what might constitute a piece of music, by adding nothing to the existing environment but rather, offering new ways of listening to what is already there.”
The £50,000 prize money will be used to commission of the work and liminal premiered The Organ of Corti at City of London Festival in July 2011 and will then travel to the Tebay Gorge in the Lake District, the Cotswold Water Park in Wiltshire and Diglis Weir in Worcester.
The judges were Charlotte Higgins, chair, (The Guardian), Joanna MacGregor (pianist), composer Michael Finnissy, Paul Morley (critic), Martin Creed (artist/composer) and Bishi (singer/songwriter)