Pandemic Vibrations : the healing power of sonic vibes

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Pandemic Vibrations uses a mix of 2D and 3D animation, music, and sound design to explore the environmental impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on people’s emotional and physical well-being, while offering a soothing counterpoint to the constant bombarding we all face in the news. This counterpoint comes in the form of the healing vibrational power of music. To do this, the project brings what might, in ordinary times, be an installation-based work into a digital arena so it can be easily shared widely.

The project brings together animators, indigenous and local musicians, and academics to develop an animated story that uses a playful and whimsical set of characters to illustrate the impacts sound has on our bodies. It also works to introduce and promote the healing properties of different musical traditions from Australia, West Africa, and North America to Australian and international audiences. The animation is currently being submitted to festivals in Australia and around the world.

The creative team collaborated on this animation during COVID. While the animation team was able to do much of its work remotely, meeting between lockdowns, the musical team created the score during two in-person recording sessions at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. The team brought their own pandemic experiences to the work, allowing the animation’s story to weave together the individual threads.

Pandemic Vibrations has been submitted to Australian festivals, after which it will be promoted internationally. Throughout April 2022, the animation will screen nightly as part of a showcase at the University of Sydney’s Footbridge Gallery, where the work will be projected on the side of a University building after sunset.

At its core, this project is concerned with the environment, and the ways that sonic vibrations can heal people and the planet. It explores how artists and musicians can capture these healing elements and communicate them to a public that is reeling from the isolation and challenges of the pandemic. This new creative work intends to reflect on, and speak to, the anxieties and strain of living through, and with, the COVID-19 Pandemic moment. More broadly, it uses this as an opportunity to focus to the importance of sonic vibration in our world and lived experiences.

This is achieved through collaborations between scholars and artists, who provide examples of the ways creative research methods can contribute to information distribution and communication as well as complement, and at times subvert, more traditional mechanisms for doing so. The team has used animation as a platform, and creative expressive tool, to blur the lines between whimsy and reality, and collaborative sonic compositional techniques that employ high levels of improvisation with a focus on the healing registers of an assortment of instruments from around the world.

The project aims to contribute to a larger conversation about sonic vibration, the environment, native and indigenous musical knowledges, healing, and art.

Creative Team:

Director: Diana Chester

Director of Animation: Melody Li

Musicians: Benjamin Carey, Julian Bel-bachir, Sonya Holowell, Diana Chester

Animators: Melody Li, Sarnai Gan-Erdene, Saransh Agrawal, Abhimanyu Gupta