Aural wells keep Irish, Aussie pub patrons in tune

Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:56am EDT
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Pub patrons in Sydney and Ireland are making friends and finding loved ones by shouting down wells set up by an Australian artist at opposite ends of the earth.

Irish and Australian beer drinkers have been tuned in since artist Allan Giddy set up his "sonic well" installation which transmits live sounds from the pub at Sydney's Mercantile Hotel and Ryan's Bar in Cobh, a coastal town in southwestern Ireland.

"There have been people singing songs into it, telling stories, there's even been an attempt at sex, God knows how that works," Giddy told Reuters.

The installation involves two traditional stone wells set up outside each bar. Waterproof speakers and microphones are fitted inside the wells and the sounds are broadcast via Internet technology and a voice-over-Web program. Computers inside the pubs operate it all.

Given their location Giddy said everything was designed to be able to take beer spills and cigarette butts.

"I chose the two closest watering holes to where the majority of Irish immigrants who left home and arrived in Australia are located," said Giddy.

"It's kind of like a pair of baked beans tins and a piece of string, if you are standing at one you can hear the sounds coming from the other and visa versa," he added.

Giddy said he was inspired by the fact that historically, water sources like wells or billabongs were pivotal meeting points for communities around the world.   Continued...