Previous Biennials have seen the bombed-out church house up-turned boats and Yoko’s Skyladders, and this year’s installation by James Brady, inspired by the ‘perfect number’ of Pi, has piqued our interest . We caught up with James to find out more about what we can expect from his ‘eco-acoustic sound installation’.

So, What’s Happening?

A few times each day, the sound of ARK will very slowly emerge from the catacombs beneath St Luke’s and ‘sonically’ flood the bombed-out church’s bell tower. In terms of composition, there’s no beginning or end to the work – it just happens in waves. It is continuous and gradually builds from a quiet trickle to a white noise drone, and back to a trickle.

ARK is a sonic liquid poem. An abstract reflection embracing big themes: from evolution to religion, from ecology to war, from science to spirit, from death to rebirth. It hints at something fundamental and spiritual, but you have to decide yourself what that might be. I’m not saying more than that. I’ve resisted over-conceptualizing any meaning of ARK, so that’s why I wrote a four-verse poem to accompany it. I suppose the words are an integral part of the artwork really – they might inspire wonder in the visitor.

Why Should We Come?

I hope that part of ARK’s subtlety is that it creates a new aural space through which we can re-encounter the everyday ambient sounds of the city. Whether you’re sat outside on the steps or wandering around inside St Luke’s, at first you might not hear ARK, but persevere, listen carefully and it will begin to emerge. Sometimes the experience can be disorientating. It may initiate a shift in your perception to experience the derelict church and the city outside in a different way. You should come along to challenge yourself and your preconceptions.

What Shouldn’t We Miss?

St Luke’s is host to a number of superb artists’ work during the Biennial festival. In particular I recommend you check-out Carolyn Shepherd’s beautiful and evocative burnt wood circle sculpture, Survival. It is exhibited inside the church, in front of the bell tower. It shares many common themes with my own work and so I’m sure it will inspire a rather poignant dialogue with ARK.

Fascinating Art Fact

The complex composition of ARK is based upon Pi (π) – commonly known as the ‘perfect number’. It is an infinite number, apparently fundamental to the mechanics of our universe. Pi (3.14…) is a mathematical constant which is present in nature; it can be observed in everything, from the curve of a sand dune to the form of sound waves, and from the orbit of stars to the ripples in a pond.

Your Biennial in Seven Words

Liverpool: full of noises, sounds, sweet airs …

ARK will be audible at St Luke’s from 15th September until 20th October, Thursday – Sunday, at approximately three intervals throughout each day: 12-1pm, 2-3pm, and 4-5pm.

More information

ARK: ‘the temple is full of water’
St Luke’s, aka the bombed-out church