Sunday, August 11, 2013

APHASIA - the walk through

APHASIA is a dynamic and immersive experience.

Our short video gives a sense of the installation...enjoy !!

Stills of the installation may be seen here

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Up and running!

APHASIA has been up and running for some time, and now after the Christmas-New Year period, there is still time to catch APHASIA at the Australian Centre for Photography (ACP)!

The opening was a great success - you can see some of the pictures of the launch of ACP's Summer Series here: . It was a great night, and we are pleased to report that APHASIA went over very nicely indeed. There will be some reviews shortly, as well as a limited edition monograph being published by the ACP! We are both excited by that!

We have put together a little gallery of the work - a few images that really give the flavour of the installation!  It is up until February 17 - so swing by and experience the work!

The wall text

What lies behind the red door?

Moving through the space one is slowly enveloped in a slow-moving, low-level fog, before encountering the tape, then moving through it...

...and then, the final projection...

Video, tape, sound, fog...APHASIA.

Stay tuned for a video walk through of the piece soon!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Audio inside APHASIA

Audio inside APHASIA

You may recall from an earlier blog posting (The Door Installation) that to enter APHASIA, one must make the simple yet conscious action of opening, walking through, then closing a red door.  On the outside of that door is the gentle sound of greeting and preparation in the antechamber - a deconstructed and re-composed setting of Céad míle fáilte (an excerpt of that sound installation appears in the earlier blog entry).

Once inside APHASIA, though, the sound world is very different. Starker, stripped back, at times inaudible...

There are two main elements to the sound inside APHASIA:
  • Quadraphonic sound installation
  • Infrasonic installation
In this update, we are going to concentrate on the quadraphonic sound installation, leaving the infrasonic business for a little later...

Naturally, the quadraphonic set-up refers to the four speakers that surround the dominant space of APHASIA.  In the current gallery floor-plan, you can see how this operates, with X marking the spot for each speaker.

Entering from the doorway at the bottom, the spectator moves up and through the sculptural installation (details to follow in a grand update!) and into the larger space at the top of the floor plan. The four speakers spatialise sound for that section of the gallery.  You might also notice a subwoofer there - that is reserved for the infrasonic component...

The through-composed sound installation loops every 40'17" (the 359th prime: 2417"...with 359 also just short of a complete perfect circle [of 360 degrees] and itself a prime) with the principle materials being:

  • recordings of Darragh's voice reading letters she has saved from years ago, retelling her dreams, whispering, speaking, declaiming
  • the sounds of breathing
  • percussion sounds (metals, skins, and prepared piano)
  • sines and the products of their interaction
Together, these materials are presented in such a way that complete meaning and understanding is near, but always out of reach.  The use of text assists in this - with text clusters rendering most words indecipherable, but the occasional word recognisable. It is incomplete, with any attempt to render a coherent meaning ending in misinterpretation - a misunderstanding. 

Words colliding, merging, making fantastic and unreal meaning...the rendering of an aphasic experience.

You can hear some of these aspects in the example presented as part of this blog entry. The audio presented here is best experienced through headphones or dedicated speakers.

The use of four speakers to telegraph this experience is a choice made by Team D that permits low volume sound to envelope and immerse those who travel the installation. It also permits the demarcation of a sonic 'sweet-spot' in the installation, where the directionality of sound emanating from each speaker intersects, providing the ultimate APHASIA experience - the point where the sound language is complete (both the quadraphonic and infrasonic installations), and the visual language is complete (as one exits the sculptural installation and sees the video projection for the first time). 

It is the peak moment of APHASIA.  A complete dissociation. 

And as with all things dissociative, something that cannot be explained, only experienced...


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our Collaboration

Our collaboration

Thanks to everyone who has taken an interest in our work! It is really great to hear from and connect with you!

A few people have asked about how an Irish artist and an Australian artist managed to start working together, why we choose to work together, and what each brings to the table...well, here is the story...

We have been working together since meeting in the United Kingdom in early 2011, both realising the potential to expand our work through the exploration of common themes and different mediums. Over this time we have refined our language of collaboration through small test pieces exploring the potential of marrying our distinct areas of practice. We rather annoyingly refer to ourselves as Team D...

Through photo-media and durational performance, Darragh explores content that is intensely personal, dealing with relationships, experience and the home in a way that is a contestation of gender, politics and space. David's work originates in music composition (including commissions for Symphony Australia and the ABC), audio-visual collaborations and, most recently, composition outside of the audible spectrum as a counterpoint to visual and performance installation. Individually our work is anchored in personal experience; as a collaborative entity it transcends any individual perspective, amplifying the emotional import of a universal human condition. Our back catalogues – the ‘Nimbus Vice’ series, Pink Cock Room, Jackhammered, Mucker (Darragh); The Joy of Loss, Todesfuge, Die Eigenheit, Domino Theory (David) – are personal revelations filtered through metaphor. As a team, we strive to develop a new language of communication that embraces photo-media, installation, performance, music and sound. This powerful combination takes the expressive power of our work to a new, distinctly original and innovative level, informed as it is also by literature.

We undertook a residency at Bundanon in April 2012 where we scoped and framed the concepts and elements of APHASIA and undertook extensive field recordings. Our investigations of installation in terms of co-dependent, convergent and immersive media, materials, themes, structures and concepts have built on our individual languages and created a potent third entity: a stripped-back new language that communicates more directly, distinctly and with less artifice and obstruction in the exploration of emotion and meaning.

In interrogating each other’s practice and unspoken assumptions, we have developed the grammar and syntax of a shared language – a process that continues despite working from opposite ends of the world. The intensity of our collaborative process remains undiluted across this geographical distance, bringing together our shared themes of emotional conflation, psychological trauma, contested space and, ultimately, redemption.


IMAGES © Lucy Parakhina

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Video: The Return of the Door

Video: The Return of the Door

The final point of the linear expression of APHASIA is a video projection in which the same door that greeted visitors to APHASIA is re-presented in a new environment. The video team (Darragh and cinematographer JJ Rolfe) shot the scene on location in Mucker, Ireland.

Here is Darragh's journal entry following the shoot:

Shooting the scene for the door.

Entering Cassidy's field I made my way to the Great Northern railway tracks to clear the pathway for the dolly tracks. In came JJ through the old metal gates and together we lay the tracks down one by one clearing any nettles and weeds in the way. Next came the red door. I threw it over the wall of my house, jumped over myself and carried the door through the field to reach the tracks. I had imagined it for a long time perched in the middle of the tracks, the red door alerting itself, calling for attention. Positioning it in the middle of the tracks it seems to look like it floated in the pathway. The sun beamed in, not usual for Ireland's weather, so several takes at the shoot occurred. I could see a cloud in the distance in the blue of the sky. As it slowly settled in, it dulled the whole scene and made just the right lighting for the shoot. A slow motion shot in towards the door and then back out again it had to be, just like the other takes. A little rabbit hopped across the back of the setting. I liked it. It gave a bit of character, reality, to the setting.  On two incoming and outgoings I felt like the piece was complete. I had got what I came for. 

And here are a few images images from the shoot:

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Door Installation

The Door Installation

Galleries tend to be large cavernous spaces that can blend fairly seamlessly into one another.  There may be doorways, passages, avenues…but the architecture of many gallery spaces seem to be designed for a visitor to seamlessly move from one environment into another, often gradually, often unconsciously. Referentially discrete, but essentially open.

We have talked at length about the way in which a visitor to APHASIA might experience the first few seconds of our piece. We concluded that an action - a simple action - would delineate the environment outside of APHASIA from the world within.

That action is the opening of a door, passing through the opening, and the closing of the door. A conscious decision to enter, to leave the known outside. For us, it imbues the first moments of APHASIA with a sense of demarcation from the external world, and the entry into a world of imprecise meanings and permeable memory. 

The door is red. A barrier. A full stop…what lies beyond the closed door? An alluring promise as some red is wont to suggest? A point of entry into prosperity and joy? Warmth? Attraction?

This is the first step - the negotiation of a barrier, and the acceptance of our invitation to enter.

Working with the inside/outside space of APHASIA, we have developed a quiet sound installation that exists outside of the space.  This external sound environment is in contrast to the sound within APHASIA. 

The chorale that plays outside was recorded over a two day period during our residency at Bundanon, and is built around Darragh singing céad míle fáilte - an Irish hymn that begins with the famous and much loved Irish greeting meaning 'a hundred thousand welcomes'. It is a song of solidarity that transcends its religious overtones, residing firmly in the cultural consciousness of Irish self-determination.

Céad míle fáilte romhat, a Íosa, a Íosa
Céad míle fáilte romhat, a Íosa
Céad míle fáilte romhat a Shlánaítheoir
Céad míle míle fáilte romhat,a Íosa, a Íosa

Here is but one version of the song sung by Maureen Hegarty: 

Our treatment of the song renders it almost unrecognisable.  Almost…

Whilst individual words are rendered practically indecipherable, it retains the colour and tonal flexibility of the vowel sounds whilst accentuating the sibilance. We also think it retains the spirit of welcome that is core to the original hymn. When the door is closed, our arrangement of céad míle fáilte can no longer be heard.  It exists only in the memory as the viewer is immersed in a new sound world and the eye is drawn towards the looming tape mass - all 43 kilometres of it. 

Here is an excerpt of our version:

Into a new domain, where the chorale of greeting exists only in the mind, and is immediately re-interpreted with new sounds of whispers, declamations, sines and percussion. As the door is opened and closed in the same conscious action, there is a transition from one world into another.



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Australian Centre for Photography

APHASIA at the Australian Centre for Photography

We are delighted to be able to share the great news that APHASIA will have its international premiere at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney!

APHASIA will open on December 1 2012 and run through until mid-February 2013.

The Australian Centre for Photography (ACP) is a national centre of excellence in the exhibition, education and publication of photography. With four decades of experience, it is the longest running contemporary art space in Australia. With its fantastically versatile exhibition space, APHASIA finds a resonant place to call its first home.

We have been working alongside the ACP team in exploring the opportunities for tuning APHASIA to the dynamism of the space. It is a great, positive working relationship - collegial and creative.

We hope we will see you at the opening at ACP, and during APHASIA's run at ACP.

Thanks to our grand new friends at ACP with whom we've been working: Kon, Tony, Michael and Belinda in particular.  We are looking forward to meeting and working alongside the rest of the team as we move towards December!

If you are not familiar with the ACP, have look at their website by visiting .


The Elements of APHASIA

The elements of APHASIA

APHASIA is an immersive, convergent installation that has within it discrete elements that combine to create at atmosphere of missed communication, contested meaning, changing context and imprecise memory.

The elements within are:

  • Entry installation - a red door through which you must pass through to enter APHASIA
  • Tape and fog sculptural installation - masses of audio reel-to-reel tape suspended from the ceiling and fog hugging the floor create a sense of disembodiment and disconnection from the immediate physical surroundings.  In moving within and through the tape installation, the spectator negotiates a sensory dissociation with the field of vision restricted (with tape gently falling across the face) and with sound emanating from above.  The fog at floor level further reinforces this disembodiment, rendering the physical 'grounding' unseeable
  • Quadraphonic sound installation - a quiet, understated sound composition based around the texts of letters to Darragh, and her own dreams spatialised within the gallery
  • Infrasonic installation - an inaudible sonic installation that has an involuntary impact on the physiology of the spectator
  • Video projection installation - a return to the red door presented in an unfamiliar and unknowing context...
Read and experienced together, these elements combine to create a new world that is at first experienced linearly, then simultaneously. It draws upon sight, sound, touch - and it explores the minutiae of personal (mis)understanding amplified to a universal experience.

Each element will have its own entry in this blog as they move independently, but interconnectedly, from conceptualisation through to resolution and production...


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Residency at Bundanon

Residency at Bundanon

In May 2012, Darragh and David undertook a residency at the Bundanon Trust. During the residency, Team D scoped the distinct elements of APHASIA and began collecting extensive recordings of text, whispers, declamations, breathing, heartbeats, along with more conventional musical timbres of percussion and piano.
Bundanon is a special place – a place that affords artists space and time to consider, reconsider, create, deconstruct, expand, concentrate and realise. For us, it was a time of uninterrupted creative flow, where Darragh worked on testing a range of materials, where David worked on sound design and music composition, and the wholistic experience of APHASIA was framed. 
    Darragh sketching at Bundanon
We would like to thank the Bundanon Trust for the great opportunity of being resident in the Musician’s Cottage. A creative space of peace, tranquility and no interruptions.
Musician's Cottage at Bundanon
While there, we made the significant step of determining each of the discrete elements of APHASIA and established the conditions and meanings of their co-relation.  This will form the basis of subsequent blog entries as we explore the whole installation, then the process of making each discrete part.
    David's workstation at Bundanon
To the fantastic team at Bundanon – a heartfelt thank you; our residency was a game-changer in the way we had time to experiment and argue the finer points of the APHASIA: to create work, then pull it apart and start again, to build on creative successes and breakthroughs, and work through and reconsider creative failures – all such important aspects of conceptualising, making and doing.
One of the great highlights was the opportunity to record (and re-record) all of the text that we are using as raw material for APHASIA. This is powerful and highly personal and intimate material: letters written to Darragh by her father, and recollections of Darragh’s eclectic dreams. In bringing these two bodies of text together, there is a collision of meaning, of perspective, of function, and of reality that underscores the concept at the heart of APHASIA.
One of the most compelling dreams related by Darragh in APHASIA is reproduced here, along with her drawing of the dream…

I'm halfway up the bed on a mattress that is half see-through. There's a big rat underneath me. A white one. The bed is out in the garden, not far from the trampoline, beside the trees...

Rat under bed - a depiction of the dream by Darragh

Sunday, July 29, 2012

About Darragh O Callaghan

About Darragh O Callaghan

Darragh is a visual artist from Ireland. Through her work she employs many media such as photography, video, performance and more recently drawings.
On the surface the work, home is referenced - a place of security, warmth and stability. In the work, however, there is an ominous underbelly – a sense that all is not quite right; a contestation of gender, of politics, of geography. At the core, there is a sharp edge to the exploration of content that is inherently about family, love, trust – but the work cuts through the surface of normal relations to these such things and probes deeper into a more profound territory of underlying truth that is unsettling and provocative.
The body becomes a place of action through which identity is forged. Actions on the body begin a discourse on resilience and overcoming. The video works of immersion and submersion, emotional disintegration, and the durational performances of weight upon the body, at once define strength and fragility, adaptability, stoicism, vulnerability and destruction. The significance of the textural materials and their usage act as a vehicle to express her ideas.

Here is a showreel of Darragh's work:

Contents of showreel:

Surface Tension, still of video installation
Pink Cock Room, still of video performance
Jackhammered, video performance
If Only You Could See, video
Proximidad, C-type print
Brick performance, live performance
Brick performance, live performance
Brick performance, live performance
All That's Inbetween, live performance
Building up, screenprint of live performance
Concrete Feet, screen print
Focus Point, ink drawing
House Pour, screen print
Nimbus Vice 2, Lightjet C-type print
Nimbus Vice 1, Lightjet C-type print
Desiccated Vessel, C-type print

You can see much more of Darragh's work at

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

About David Sudmalis

About David Sudmalis 

David is a composer-performer living in Sydney, Australia.  His practice is varied, working across numerous music genres (classical, popular, jazz) and often in collaboration with visual artists.

His recent work has been characterised by an increasing use of composition outside of the audible spectrum – particularly below 20Hz (infrasound), where sound is felt rather than heard, and where there is a predisposition for involuntary physiological response to sound waves. Under proper conditions with specifically tuned infrasound, a spectator’s experience can range from extreme calm, sorrow, and stillness, to more acute responses including peripheral hallucination. David has been working in this area for around ten years and developed infrasonic composition as a counterpoint to audible composition…

On this page, there are some samples of David’s work to date: an audio-visual showreel, and excerpts from compositions. Neither have infrasonic elements embedded within, as these are best experienced under controlled conditions.

Details of composition excerpts:

0'00" Domino Theory (for solo clarinet), performed by Carl Rosman
0'34" The Joy of Loss (installation)
1'30" Cicada Dusk (for orchestra), performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marcus Stenz
2'25" Enki (for flute, live electronics and digital audio), performed by Daynor Missingham and David Sudmalis
3'29" Zillmanton Clarities (for orchestra), performed by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kevin Field
4'29" Aphasia [preview] (installation)

As for David's other life, you can find out about that here:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Welcome to APHASIA

Welcome to APHASIA

APHASIA is the new work by collaborating artists Darragh O Callaghan and David Sudmalis. It is an immersive installation bringing together our practices in photomedia, sculpture, sound, music and performance. APHASIA will premiere at the Australian Centre for Photography in December 2012, and we aim to tour it internationally throughout 2013.

Aphasia is from the Greek root ἀφᾰσία meaning speechlessness caused by fear or perplexity; in English, aphasia refers to a medical condition that presents as difficulties in language ability, occasioned by injury or disease to the brain. There is a great synopsis of the condition at

For us, we are treating the notion of aphasia as indicative of the difficulties of communication: contested meaning, incomplete comprehension, and malleable memory.  For us both, it is a rich personal reservoir of experience upon which we are both drawing for this work.

APHASIA takes its point of departure letters written to Darragh and her own dreams.  In bringing these source materials together, we bring into dispute worlds of reality and fantasy, truths and obvious fictions, until these separate worlds merge and are indistinguishable from each other – a new entity with its own antecedents and consequents, and the inherent difficulties that such a conflation inevitably produces. 

This blog will trace the development of the work, ranging from our residency at Bundanon, through exhaustive materials testing, composition and the debate about performance, to realisation in December.

We are glad you’ve chosen to join us on this creative journey, and look forward to seeing you at APHASIA either in Sydney or elsewhere…