Griffith showcases art and science at Curiocity Festival

Lecturers at Griffith University have created the world’s largest acoustic guitar — a mind-blowing multi-disciplinary collaboration that will take centre stage at Curiocity Festival this month.

The Immersive Guitar (TIG) is one of the highlights of the 17-day celebration of science, art and technology, taking pride of place at South Bank, in front of the Wheel of Brisbane.

Created by lecturers from both the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre and Griffith Sciences, TIG is 12 times the size of an ordinary guitar and can seat 25 people.

Made of plantation-grown Queensland Hoop Pine set atop a steel frame with nylon strings, TIG was created over several weeks at the engineering lab on Griffith’s Gold Coast campus.

The modular design was transported to Brisbane in shipping containers and is so large it had to comply with Queensland building codes.

Described as “an instrument, a meeting place and a space for contemplation and conversation”, visitors can see what a guitar looks like from the inside, play the walls and strings and feel the music this oversized instrument creates.

The unique blend of music, design, engineering and sustainability was the brainchild of Queensland Conservatorium lecturer and world-renowned guitarist Karin Schaupp.

“It was inspired by a work created by Vanessa Tomlinson at a Conservatorium launch, where she made the room into an instrument,” she said.

“It sparked this idea of being able to listen to music inside a guitar.”

TIG creative team: Prof. Vanessa Tomlinson, Karin Schaupp and Dr Hassan Karampour

Composer and percussionist Professor Vanessa Tomlinson and Jocelyn Wolfe from the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre recruited engineering lecturer Dr Hassan Karampour, architect Bruce Wolfe and luthier Jim Redgate to bring the vision to life.

Structural engineering expert Dr Karampour said the project was one of a kind.

“This was like building a guitar shaped house, with considerations around the acoustics, but also structural stability,” he said.

“It was definitely a challenge, but it was so exciting to be part of a truly multi-disciplinary project.”

Professor Tomlinson is composing a piece to be performed on TIG and plans to use the installation as a teaching tool for her students at the Queensland Conservatorium.

“This kind of collaboration is only possible at an institution like Griffith,” she said.

“TIG has amazing potential for the arts community, as a tourism drawcard, for teaching.

“I can’t wait to see the adventures ahead for TIG.”

A team of lecturers from Queensland College of Art and Queensland Conservatorium will have a second interactive installation on display at South Bank as part of Curiocity Festival.

Chatterbox installation

Chatterbox was created by the Interactive Media Lab, which features staff and doctoral candidates from the Queensland College of Art (QCA) and Queensland Conservatorium.

The team, led by Professor Andrew Brown, brought a range of skills to the project, from music and media art to product design.

“Chatterbox is an interactive audio-visual installation that allows the public to ‘play’ a bespoke sculptural instrument by approaching and moving their bodies near the human-sized sculptural form,” Professor Brown said.

“The Chatterbox sound world consists of abstract speech that vary from ‘calls’ to ‘whispers’.

“Electronically controlled illumination acts in concert with the sounds, using digital electronics and renewable power.”

Griffith Film School animation lecturer Dr Zeynep Akcay and QCA alumnus Dr Nicola Hooper collaborated on a multimedia project “James the Rat King eXperience” inspired by the 1900-1907 Bubonic Plague in Brisbane.

Visitors to South Bank can access short animated films and archival footage by scanning the QR codes on eight different booths spread along the “Rat Trail” from the Maritime Museum to the State Library of Queensland.

The animated film will also be shown on the big screen at the State Library of Queensland.

The Immersive Guitar, Chatterbox and James the Rat King eXperience are on display at South Bank from 12 — 28 March as part of Curiocity Festival.