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Sculpture (MA)

Shirley Renwick

Scottish artist based in London, creating sensitive objects which participate with air. Investigating ecological acoustics, sub atomic science, sound, digital and art from the posthuman, nonhuman, subhuman and human position.

Using multiple media including metal, glass, clay, paper and also sound, data, sensors and air to create live nonhuman sculptural interactions and installations.

Background in the media and music industry.

Foundation, Slade, UCL, London

BA Fine Art (First), Chelsea, University of the Arts London

MA Sculpture, Royal College of Art, London


Locuscope, (Temporary Barbara Hepworth replacement) Battersea Park, London, 2022

Vibrations, online exhibition, London, 2022

The Shape of Sound, Across RCA, 2022

We Won’t Stop Showing, Set Woolwich, London, 2022

First Impression, Safehouse 1 & 2, London, 2021

Residency and exhibition at Low Carbon Design Institute 2021

The Space Between, Live online group exhibition, London, 2021

Rethinking the Physicality of Space, Staffordshire St Gallery, London, 2021

Air + Art, A Speculative Collaboration, Kings Road exhibit, London, 2020

Airspace, Schsh Gallery, San Diego, California, USA, 2020

London Air, Banqueting Hall, London, 2020

Invitation to Air, Chelsea reception area, London, 2019

I Know What You Did Last Summer, Menier Gallery, London, 2019

Arts of the Future, Tate Modern (as part of Tate Lates and Tate Exchange) London, 2018

Take Care: Inside Out / Outside In, Dolphin House Gallery, 2018

250th anniversary exhibtion, Royal Academy , London, 2018

Show Location: Battersea campus: Studio Building, First floor

I like discovering

I like uncovering

I like hope

I like listening

I like when my mind changes

I like expansive spaces

I like air

I like nothing

I like seeking truth, I search for it continuously

I like uncertainty

I like to see, I really like to see, I like to really see

I like connections, but also disconnections

I like projections through light, space and air

I like speculating on nonhuman reality

I like feedback loops

I like gaps

I like to imagine what is happening in the invisible

I like reflections

I like traces

I like time especially when it has folded and kneaded itself up and around

I like Heidegger’s wonder of the world worlding around us.

I like action, seen in the paradox of stillness

I like gentle, soft and quiet

I like noise and dischordant becomingness

I like that I contradict myself

I like that all of this will change.

I have been working with 3 core ingredients in 2022: air, sound and technology. 

This work researched the expanded experience in a sub human, nonhuman, posthuman, inhumane and human air space.

My research has been investigating air, its material an immaterial qualities, how it reacts and moves.

This year I have been specifically exploring sound in air: (in a covid-zoom-world – digitally removed from real action - there is still real movement of air molecules between the digital speaker and the human ears).

This research involved workshops and seminars across RCA, and also required investigations into physics of sound waves, human ear biology, sub atomic and atomic vibrations, including feedback, distortion, loops, As well as  sound and air as ecological systems, digital vs acoustic materiality of air, immateriality, new materialism, phenomenology.

In history – humans have been wondering about air since Parmenides, Democrites and Aristotle – "ether" – before that even as Gods and legends and myths. We have given up understanding it frequently saying it cannot be put into language. "Sunyata". I enjoy the ability to embrace the uncertainty, embrace the contradictions, embrace the unknown through art and air.

In art history too – I can trace direct interest in the withdrawn in air to Turner, Constable and the Impressionists, also Marcel Duchamp, Futurists, Art of Noise, and later to Smithson, Irwin, Judy Chicago and the California Light and Space Movement and Takis. Including today Turrell, Eliasson, Saraceno and even more so from the new materialism and ecofeminism front - Yoko Mohri, Marina Rosenfeld who also explore sound in space.

My research collaborating with air, sound and technology, impacted with art history, theory and quantum science has resulted in the reflection: There is no silence. It is a paradox. There is no stillness. Our human senses translate vibrations to understand our environment around us. This piano wire instrument expands our vibrational senses.

a renewed commitment to life and decay, alwaysAudio visual clip of live sound sculpture installation.
a renewed commitment to life and decay, always
close up of a renewed commitment to life and decay, alwaysPiano wire, piano, foamboard, sensors. Close up of sound sculpture installation
close up of a renewed commitment to life and decay. alwaysPiano wire, piano, foamboard, live participatory sound sculpture installation
close up of a renewed commitment to life and decay. alwaysPiano wire, piano, foamboard, live participatory sound sculpture installation
a renewed commitment to life and decay. always set up

A collaboration between composer and sculptor. This installation explores the hidden resonances of the instruments and the air, by using strings and technology.

a renewed commitment to life and decay, always is a participatory audio-visual installation.

Visitors are confronted with a 100 year old upright piano that has been stripped down, baring its essential components in the soundboard and strings. It is attached to a sculptural instrument searching in the air, its piano wire antenna reaching beyond its confines. Any sound in the air will cause the piano wires to resonate, and this energy is captured by microphone and diffused throughout the space through multiple layers of technologies.

This installation explores the hidden resonances of the instrument and the air, by using strings and technology to translate the potential sound vibrations into a visual and sonic force not usually experienced at the forefront of human perception.


Sound sculpture piano wire installation


Scales to fit space
a renewed commitment to life and decay, always (sound visualisation in code)Live visualisation in code projected into space and responding to ecological accoustics in room from piano wire and air.
Still image of sound sensor activated code from a renewed commitment to life and decay, alwaysStill image from sound sensor activated code
Still image of sound sensor activated code from a renewed commitment to life and decay, alwaysStill image from sound sensor activated code

Live, participatory, sound sensor, code, sculpture, projection.

Sound is atoms clashing in air causing vibrations. It is traditionally broken into the categories of: music or noise – the organised chords or the discordant. Music is about timing and being, noise is more timelessness and becomingness, as Christopher Cox suggests.

I am interested in noise, as a chance insight into becomingness.

This research is put forward as evidence that what at first might appear quiet, static, inert or, for some, sentient, with initial investigation emerges as a state of chaos, and with further experimentation becomes apparent that we are existing with air more in a state of becoming within longer rhythms, loops, reverbs, clashes and echoes. By expanding the reach of sound beyond human perception, I can state from this research that there is no evidence of nothing. Clashes, ruptures, shapes, pressures, flows, change is happening in air continuously.  I am not the first to say this of course, for example Heidegger “Nothing nothings”, artists Carey Young "Missing Mass", Marcel Duchamp (found sound), John Cage 4.33, Einstein, and in contemporary philosophy Jane Bennett, Karen Barad, Timothy Morton, Graham Harman to mention a few,  but I was intrigued to find it in this work, when I was not sure if I could find anything using piano wire and air.

This instrument is providing a tool for human experience of some of the withdrawn erratic behaviour in the non human active expanded field.  I see this technology as prosthetics for the senses to discover found sound. Ultimately letting the piano wire and air air become, as John Cage suggested in his 1957 Experimental Music writings: "not seeking to control but seeking a way of waking up to the very life we are living" in co-existence.



audio visual live sound sculpture projection


fits to space


A communication to the world using human and non human sound vibration frequencies. Inviting emerging texture to shape, form and oscillate.

Part of research for Low Carbon Design Institute residency Summer 2021.

A debt of inspiration is owed to Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Irwin.


Sound, vocals
World News at Noon

Still from live daily bulletin of global human birth and death rates played to the non human networks (including branches, roots, waterways, air, mist, clouds, soil).

Solar powered data capture and video projection.

Output from Low Carbon Design Institute residency.


Internet, data, projector, digital, solar power unit, willow


Fits to space