Sound of the Earth 

(Singapore Art Museum, 2013)

“Sound of the Earth is an experimental installation that uses the power stored in wet soil to produce sound. Artist Chen Sai Hua Kuan utilises a technique for collecting electricity commonly known as an Earth battery. The basic idea consists of using pairs of electrodes made of different metals to collect the small Telluric electrical currents that can be found when the electrodes are buried in soil. The artist started these experiments in the cities of Padang and Banda Aceh in Indonesia, both of which sit in a region exposed to earthquakes and tsunamis. For this installation the artist extracted soil from Seletar in northeastern Singapore. The soil is placed in an array of glass bottles and produces sufficient electricity to vibrate two small metal plates against each other. The impact of the metal plates creates a small hammering sound against clay bowls, made from the same soil and fired in a kiln. These fired clay domes amplify the sounds powered by the Earth battery installation. The driving force behind this project is simple: according to the artist, “I wanted to find out how the earth sounds like and whether it has a sound. That was the question. I started making recordings and playing around with them, trying to understand what I want(ed) to do. It slowly evolved into working with electricity, and producing electricity from mud that will resonate back to the mud itself.” 

(excerpt from UNEARTH shortguide by Singapore Art Museum) 

Sound of the Earth Singapore Art Museum 1
Sound of the Earth Singapore Art Museum 2
Sound of the Earth Singapore Art Museum 3