Gurgle Splosher

The Gurgle-Splosher
A playful and interactive sound-sculpture model of the water cycle.

First public presentation will be 2 July in Hebden Bridge for the Arts Festival.

Stephen Summers has been commisioned to build the Gurgle Splosher to represent Mytholmroyd in Landlines and Watermarks. The Gurgle Splosher will be built with the involvement of pupils from several schools in Mytholmroyd. Landlines and Watermarks has been commissioned by Calderdale Council and the Community Foundation for Calderdale.

At the top of the Gurgle Splosher is the upper ‘cloud’ reservoir which is a large, clear tank filled with water. At the bottom is the ‘sea’ reservoir. Water is pumped from the lower to the upper reservoirs when needed, and can then take several routes back down through the system, as determined by the actions of the visitors.

Many different water sounds are produced; rain, flowing streams, drips, sudden deluges, bubbles, splashes and of course Gurgles and Sploshes. These beautiful watery sounds will be mixed in with recordings of young people’s voices taken during workshops at schools in Mytholmroyd.

Water flow systems
All of these systems can be regulated by visitors turning taps, pulling levers and blowing into bubble hoses.

1) Rain
Two Shower-heads scatter water from the upper reservoir either side onto ‘rain plates’ which have various items of cutlery, pots and pans on them. Visitors (if they don’t mind getting wet!) can rearrange these to change the sounds of rain hitting the objects.

2) River
Centrally placed on the system is a large ‘Shishi Odishi’ tube. Unlike the traditional Japanese bamboo water feature this is a large clear plastic tube, but just like the originals, it gradually fills, until the weight of the water reaches a tipping point and the whole tube tips and disgorges suddenly into the lower reservoir. This results in a large Splosh sound, and minor splashes to nearby visitors.

3) Streams
A gutter system splits smaller channels of water off through holes to drip and cascade past various suspended acoustic objects (teaspoons etc) that tinkle and chime in response.

Amplification & recording
Hydrophones (water microphones) contact and acoustic microphones are placed throughout the systems as well as positioned to pick up people’s reactions as they play. The sounds are sent to a mixing desk and sound processors, from where they are mixed by a sound engineer, amplified through a powerful PA system and recorded multi-channel. Afterwards the recordings are edited and made available for free download.