The West

Picture: Ali Judd

How much does a word weigh? Does a loud word weigh more than a quiet word? What would happen if you pass a word from one person to another?

These are the questions given physical and visual form in the interactive art installation Words, running in the Sunken Garden at the University of WA.

Initially commissioned by the BBC for the 2009 Free Thinking Festival in England's Gateshead, Words is created by British art collective greyworld.

Visitors to the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at UWA are handed a white cube and told to think of a word. As they speak their word into the box, it begins to glow with a gentle blue light.

They are then invited to explore the Sunken Garden, which turns out to be a rich sonic environment into which they can release their own word. As their word spills from the box, the light drains away.

"You have got these giant boxes of words in the Sunken Garden, which is beautiful," greyworld director Andrew Shoben says.

Another greyworld installation for the Festival is Signs, an electronic signpost in Brookfield Place in the city, which points anywhere on Earth or in the solar system at the request of passers-by.

Festival visual arts manager Margaret Moore says Words connects the Festival theme of light with the Perth Writers Festival, which ended at the weekend.

"I quite like the fact that you offer layers in the program at Festival time," she says. "The Words project is a really quiet, intimate one-on-one experience so it is quite a contrast to the big exhibitions and spectacles."

Words is free and runs until Saturday.

The West Australian

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