Creating sound waves with a difference
ALEXIS KIRKE waves his arms and a storm of jumbled, breaking waves is accompanied by a tempest of electronic music.
Another gesture and, like the sea god Neptune, he restores calm, so that the hundreds of spectators gathered round the ocean wave tank might be able to see their reflections.
Alexis Kirke and Sam Freeman's composition soundWave is thought to be the first time a wave tank has been turned into a musical instrument.
Kirke, with sensors strapped to his body and wearing a life jacket, conducted a 12-minute symphony of waves and music from a position above the main tank.
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Seven "water drummers" provided percussion in the nearby coastal tank.
So sophisticated is the control of the tank's 24 paddles that Kirke was able to generate a tiny wave that sprang out of an otherwise flat surface, tossing a metre-wide buoy into the air and leaving the audience open-mouthed.
The piece was commissioned by the Plymouth Marine Institute for the opening of the new building.
Jane Chafer, the university's head of external relations, said the building aimed to marry science with art and literature.
Outside the main entrance stands a limestone boulder which was unveiled by the Duke of Edinburgh yesterday. It is inscribed with the opening lines of a poem by Caroline Carver:
To touch new worlds
through the resolution of water
we ride the waves of air &
tides of sun and moon.
The rest of the poem appears throughout the building along with works by university artists.