Sounding Nest Sauna

Jan-Erik Andersson & Shawn Decker: Sounding Nest Sauna, Mänttä Art Festival 11.6–31.8 2017.

The Sounding Nest Sauna is a combination of two earlier collaborative projects made in collaboration with sound artist Shawn Decker; the Sounding Dome Sauna, a garlic-pumpkin shaped sauna, made for the Turku Cultural Capital of Europe year in 2011 and the Nest installations made in several cities; Berlin, Chicago; Wakefield, Helsinki, Hyvinkää and Turku.

The tent-sauna’s construction consists of two nest-layers, with recyclable, bright red, PVC plastic in between. The nest-layers are built in the same way as birds build their nests: A continuing process, where I take a tringle made of three beams of heat treated wood and screw it onto another similar triangle. There are no drawings, the shape is in my head. This way of constructing uses a module, a triangle. The module has always been the base of modernist functionalist building. Usually it leads to a very orderly and repeated structure. In this case, the result is a kind of organised chaos, where the individual module is visually lost in the wholeness. The construction is very strong and one can climb on it.

The interior consists of triangular platforms made of heat treated wood on which wooden chairs, bought from local second hand shops, are mounted, with their legs sawn off. The red plastic is semi-transparent, which means that the “redness” inside changes due to the suns strength and position. In this way, the redness psychologically strengthens the sense of changing heat inside the sauna.

In a similar way, Decker’s soundscape attempts to intensify the sense of increasing or decreasing heat. Two sensors inside the sauna, one measuring changes in heat, the other in humidity, produce information to Decker’s system, which mixes sound-clips into an continously changing aggregate. The basic sounds are for example recordings of boiling water, firing of a wooden sauna and steamboat whistles, which are changed into drone-like soundscapes. The four speakers inside are situated on top of the plywood “roof”, which directs the steam coming from the heater, towards the visitors sitting in the sauna. The two speakers situated outside on the top of the sauna, have a different soundscape, triggered when people throw water on the heater and the humidity changes.