Blak Box, Artist Impression by Kevin O'Brien

Blak Box

‘Deep listening at Sydney Harbour: Past, present and future coexist. If the speed of sound warps our sense of time then we can still hear the crackle of fires lit thousands of years ago on the foreshore of the world’s most magnificent harbour. The presence of the First People is inscribed in the acoustic memory of the place they now call Barangaroo. Contemporary voices share stories of country. Are you listening?’
– Daniel Browning, Urban Theatre Projects, BLAK BOX Curator.

Step inside BLAK BOX at Barangaroo Reserve from June 2-24 2018 and embrace the First Peoples’ concept of ‘deep listening’. Based on oral storytelling, silences and the spaces in between, deep listening is a practice to develop respect and community building. The state-of-the-art BLAK BOX surround-sound space has been purposely designed by globally-renowned architect Kevin O’Brien. The harbour-side pavilion will be filled with a powerful suite of newly commissioned sound works carefully curated by Daniel Browning (presenter of Awaye! on ABC RN). The works bring together a moving range of contemporary First Peoples voices to respond to the past, present and future of the Barangaroo site.

The premiere of BLAK BOX offers audiences a vantage point for a wider exploration of the First People’s relationship with their waters through that most compelling and fleeting artefact of human consciousness – sound. The inaugural BLAK BOX program is titled humechochorus (hum echo chorus) and comprises commissioned oral histories of the harbour headland before 1788, informal interviews and spoken word performances. These will sit alongside over 15 separate commissioned sound pieces comprising original music and hydrophone field recordings taken from underwater at the site. Together the works offer a sound stream of consciousness blending stories of the past (echo), the present (hum) and an imagined future (chorus).

UTP BLAK BOX Creative Team – L-R: Architect – Kevin O’Brien, Curator – Daniel Browning, Lighting Designer – Karen Norris. Image credit: Joshua Morris

Image credit: Joshua Morris

Curator – Daniel Browning

Daniel Browning is one of Australia’s most respected commentators on Indigenous visual arts. A journalist and broadcaster on ABC Radio National, Browning has produced and presented the Awaye! Indigenous art and culture program since 2005. Browning is from the Bundjalung and Kullilli peoples of far northern New South Wales and south-western Queensland and is a visual arts graduate of the Queensland University of Technology.
“One of the key tangents in the work is the idea that water is sovereign – we can try to shape it, redirect its flows, but ultimately it does its own thing. Together the works offer a sound stream of consciousness blending stories of the past (echo), the present (hum) and an imagined future (chorus).”


Image credit: Joshua Morris

Architect – Kevin O’Brien

Kevin O’Brien is an architect of Kaurereg and Meriam descent. He is globally renowned for his designs which draw on Aboriginal concepts of space. O’Brien’s Finding Country exhibition was an official Collateral Event of the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale 2012. The designer has also received multiple National and State Awards from the Australian Institute of Architects. O’Brien is widely accepted as one of the country’s leading architects and a pioneer in his field. The BLAK BOX design features similar materials and design principles to previous examples of O’Brien’s award-winning architecture by harnessing natural light and presenting a sleek aesthetic whilst maintaining environmental friendliness and a connection to Country.

Image credit: Joshua Morris

Lighting Designer – Karen Norris

Karen Norris has worked extensively as a lighting designer in Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe. In Australia she has worked for numerous theatre and dance companies including Bangarra Dance Theatre, Belvoir Street Theatre, Red Shed Theatre Company, State Theatre of South Australia, Griffin Theatre Company and One Extra. In 2008 Karen returned to Australia from living in France and her work has since included designs for the opera Ingkarta Project (Adelaide Festival 2008), Noel Jordon’s In the Shape of a Girl (Sydney Opera House), Love Me Tender (Director Matt Lutton for Company B, PICA and Griffin Theatre Company), Hansel and Gretel (Pacific Opera), and Christine Douglas.

UTP’s Artistic Director, Rosie Dennis says: “BLAK BOX is one of our most ambitious projects to date – bringing together design, installation and sound for a completely unique contemporary storytelling experience for audiences. Daniel has curated an intelligent, layered and thought-provoking program which grapples with the complexity of urban development, place and history.”

UTP is delighted to work for the first time with Barangaroo Delivery Authority to present this powerful and important new pavilion at Barangaroo: Australia’s next cultural precinct and Sydney’s newest creative stage for leading-edge public art and programming. The pavilion will be situated at Barangaroo Reserve in Sydney for three weeks before it tours nationally. The 2018 world-premiere project marks the beginning of a three-year partnership with UTP and Barangaroo Delivery Authority which will commission a suite of new art and sound installations at the site at the same time each year until 2020.

BLAK BOX is supported by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority.