Mel O’Callaghan b. 1975 Sydney, Australia. Lives and works in Sydney and Paris.

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undo the day, NAS Galleries, Sydney
opens 14 June until 3 August, 2024


First Sound, Last Sound, 2022, two steel tuning forks, wooden resonance chamber, performers in white costume, 3m x 32.5cm x 15cm each, 30m x 5.75m, 20 minutes

Photo: Zan Wimberley


24 JUN - 21 AUG, 2022

Curated by Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley

First Sound, Last Sound is a durational performance featuring two large-scale tuning forks installed on a resonant chamber. When played, the tuning forks emit a fundamental note that creates a sympathetic call and response between the tuning forks and with the body on a cellular level that is in solidarity with the heartbeat of the Earth.

During a series of performances, performers and audience members will become conduits for sympathetic sound and will be called into an awareness of their own somatic rhythms, calmed nervous system—pulse, breath, and movement—and to consider the notion that the Earth, too, is a living organism.

To create this work, O’Callaghan worked with a musicologist at the University of Sydney and fabricators at Eveleigh Works (an industrial blacksmith workshop in Gadigal, Sydney) on the fabrication of two three metre tall steel tuning forks, each weighing 800 kilograms. Tuning forks are primarily used as handheld acoustic resonators utilized to calibrate a standard pitch for musical instruments, as they emit a pure musical tone related to the length and mass of the fork’s two prongs, or tines.

Performers: Trae Allen, Omer Backley-Astrachan, Eugene Choi, Alex Craig, Ryuichi Fujimura & Keia McGrady
Performance Coordiantor: Lisa Myeong-Joo
Project Director: Daniel Mudie Cunningham
Exhibition Manager: Glenn Thompson
The tuning forks were developed and produced by Matthew Mewburn and the blacksmiths at Eveleigh Works in consultation with Damien Ricketson, Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney & Glenn Thompson.

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