The Sound of Sirens

SOUND/GALLERY, Copenhagen, 1997


John Wynne


Wynne's approach to sound pollution was to go for the jugular, or its equivalent in the ear, in a confrontational work which relied on the paradox that we all in fact ignore alarms despite their supposed function in our lives.

Ed Baxter
Resonance Magazine

Click below for an interview with John Wynne by Salomé Voegelin
about the Sound/Gallery and the exhibition he curated and participated in.

Voegelin Wynne interview 4th Door Review


John Wynne's The Sound of Sirens was exhibited by Copenhagen's now closed Sound Gallery in 1997.  Consisting of 25 speakers set within the ground of the city's main square, the officially sanctioned Gallery operated through extremely exposed and public circumstances by creating a potential sound field of 900 square metres.  Working solely with warning signals and alarms, Wynne's project became a site for debate between aesthetic value and the rights to public space, forcing sound and its presentation to become a civic and governmental issue.  For what became immediately apparent was that positioning sound within the public realm brings to question the occupation of that space.  That Wynne's work was consequently shut down by the City Council due to the fact that people were 'confused and frightened' by the work highlights the degree to which sound may radically infringe upon public space, and challenge civic notions of an ethics of display and the rights to occupation.  Being positioned within the main square of the city, which is designated a site of gathering for political, cultural and local groups to give free expression to public debate, issues and arguments, The Sound of Sirens remained an essentially distressing work.  Claiming it to be art with aesthetic value was not enough to prevent the work's closure.

Brandon LaBelle
'Vandalism and Complaints:  Sound's Other Mask' in Sound Art, edited by Anna Colin, 2005