Site-specific project presented at the Belfast Festival 2014
Location: squash court annex, Physical Education Centre, Queen’s University Belfast

by Diogo Alvim and Matilde Meireles with Richard O’Sullivan

Play is a project developed through the collaboration between sound artists Diogo Alvim and Matilde Meireles. This multilayered performance was specially conceived for the annex of the Physical Education Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. The site, composed of two squash courts and two racquetball courts, was built between 1969-1971. It was around the same time that Polish conceptual artist Edward Krasinski and the North American experimental composer Alvin Lucier created some of their groundbreaking works.

In Play the building becomes the main character of an immersive acoustic experience, where a game of squash is the starting point to explore ideas about architecture through sound.

The sounds of the squash court succumb to the acoustic phenomena extrapolated in two of Lucier’s most important works – Vespers and I am sitting in room. This ‘sonic annex’ is complimented by hints to Krasinski’s obsession with the never-ending line. The line that extends beyond the performance space and reveals unexpected connections.

If, on one hand, Lucier uses his voice and patterns of acoustic pulses to scan spaces and activate the environment’s sonic signature, on the other Krasinski activates the space with a horizontal line that intersects all things, levelling divergent layers of reality.

Two squash players trigger the events that will be developed throughout the performance. By producing sound patterns they initiate a dialogue with the far-reaching resonances of the space, inviting the musicians to play a part in the game as well.

Project concept, script, sound/image materials, production and direction
Diogo Alvim & Matilde Meireles

Producers and red line tapers
Clara Kane & John D’Arcy

Diogo Alvim

Film & live feed
Richard O’Sullivan

Squash players
Michael Taylor & Patrick Flack

Brass players
Amy Wilson (flugelhorn), Ashley Elliot (tuba), Brian McNarry (trumpet), David Bird (cornet), Edward Wilson (Euphonium), Hazel Wilson, (tenor horn), and Stephen Kelly (trombone)

Una McCann & John D’Arcy

Project expanded in: “Trigger Place — A Game of Sound and Architecture: a research reflection on PLAY, a site-specific project” (with Diogo Alvim), Journal of Artistic Research, JAR 14, 2017 (best experienced using Chrome)