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

︎ CV
︎︎︎ Email
︎ Instagram
︎︎︎ Galerie Allen
︎︎︎ Cassandra Bird Gallery


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


Opening performance

Photo: Elyse Bouvier and John Dean


JUN 27 - AUG 27, 2023

Co-curated by
Shauna Thompson & Peta Rake

First Sound, Last Sound, 2022, two steel tuning forks, wooden resonance chamber, performers in white costume, 20 minutes

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.  

Here, at immense and celestial scale, the forks are calibrated to 256 hertz, a deeply resonant tone akin to the vibrations of the earth. Positioned atop of a resonant chamber, when one fork is struck, the vibration it emits causes the other fork to vibrate as well. One can also describe this sympathetic response as a ‘live’ echo whereby sound waves are not only being reflected, but newly generated. The pleasing sound of the 256 hertz tone, sometimes referred to as ‘the god note,’ is used in sound therapy techniques to induce a relaxed state of consciousness and heighten mental acuity.

Throughout the performance of First Sound, Last Sound, during which performers strike the forks in a specific sequence, soundwaves will physically travel through performers and spectators alike, creating perceptible vibrations within their bodies and encouraging a meditative effect. By tapping into the body’s inner communication system ​(the nervous system), each performance of First Sound, Last Sound is an opportunity for communal meditation and emphasizes the body as a site of revelation and yearning for collective experience.

The tuning forks were developed and produced by Matthew Mewburn and the blacksmiths at Eveleigh Works, Gadigal, Sydney in consultation with Damien Ricketson, Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney and Glenn Thompson. Commissioned by Carriageworks with the support of Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley and Lisa Myeong-Joo Keighery.

Performers: Scott Augustine, Bryan Francisco, Ebony Gooden, Catherine Hayward and  Viviane Martin
Performance Coordinators: Katie Green & Elizabeth Diggon

This project is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW