The Boisterous Sea of Liberty (2009)

“The Boisterous Sea is an interactive narrative installation about Thomas Jefferson's ideas on Liberty and the history of their development. A collage of twenty one high definition flat panels are arranged along a curve in layered fashion, at certain times and locations functioning as one big continuous display, and at other times as individual screens on which content is contained.” Small Design Firm

Working for Small Design Firm, liminal created music and sound design for 'The Boisterous Sea of Liberty' exhibition at Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia. Music was composed with John Matthias.

Having worked with Boston-based Small Design Firm on the Churchill War Rooms in 2004, we were asked to contribute sound and music to this exhibit that fuses a combination of a large-scale linear narrative with much more intimate, interactive touch screens. While the upper screens play out a thirteen-chapter programme comprising paintings, documents, illustrations and quotations, bits of typography continuously descend into the touch-screens below. When visitors click on these letters, they explode into new texts and add contextual information to the themes playing out above.

Typical of Small Design Firm’s approach, the exhibit is driven by an ingenious use of typography and animation that provides a dynamic, immersive means of experiencing otherwise static texts, images and documents. Sound design and music are therefore key to both the telling of the story and the visitor’s ability to navigate the interactive elements of the exhibit.

The main narrative is accompanied by a three-channel soundtrack, which integrates music and sound design, while small speakers attached to each of the touch-screens are used to convey the navigation and foley sounds that accompany the user’s actions. The initial musical themes were composed with John Matthias and then developed into the thirteen chapters of the exhibit.