Commissioned by NuMusic for the Norwegian city of Stavanger as part of the cultural programme to celebrate their status as twinned European City of Culture with Liverpool in 2008.
10 Sonic Vista benches were set in locations both in and around the city, each with a specially commissioned soundtrack from a roster of local and international composers of experimental electronic music: one of which is the official memorial bench for Karlheinz Stockhausen.
It made sense to have the benches manufactured in Norway (Norwegian Wood!), and we were fortunate to find a perfect partner in local Stavanger firm RANSO, which employs a local workforce with varying degrees of disability in the production of various 'municipal' wooden products. The design of the bench reflects both the spirit of the audio content (modern, strong, angular) and RANSO's fabrication capabilities.
A.n SMS service was incorporated into the project, whereby each bench had a unique number, which could be dialled from a mobile phone for extra information on the particular composer and soundtrack. A credit card-sized fold-out map was produced to show the bench locations and information on all the composers.
One aspect of the physical design of the bench was that it's flat surfaces deliberately allowed for 'surface decoration': NuMusic also promotes 'street art', and in anticipation of 'tagging' from locals we invited a local graffiti artist to decorate one of the benches destined to be placed near a city-centre skateboard park.
Project delivered in happy collaboration with Andy Law.