Carlos Casas

(Barcelona, 1974)

Sanctuary, 2017

Site-specific sound environment and audiovisual installation

Sanctuary, is a site-specific sound environment by day that is transformed into an immersive live cinema experience in the evening. The free daytime installation explores spatial sound and the affective potential of infrasound – low-frequency noise, such as that used by elephants to communicate across long distances – as well as its connection with architectural space, music and psychology. A specially designed infrasound speaker located in the centre of the space is the first of its kind to reproduce the full range and depth of elephant communication. These infrasound tests are accompanied by sounds recorded in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park and diffused through an Ambisonics 3D sound spatialisation system, a full sphere surround sound technology. Casas invites visitors to lie down and experience this experimental sonic environment over the course of the day. 
Inspired by the myth of the elephants’ graveyard, Carlos Casas’ Sanctuary is an immersive live film experience taking up themes of extinction, interspecies communication and the cinematic imaginary. Part adventure film, part experimental nature documentary, the narrative follows Nga, an aging elephant, and Sanra, his mahout, on their journey through a jungle in Sri Lanka. The pair is followed closely by a group of poachers who disappear one by one under mysterious circumstances. A spectacle of stroboscopic light signals the journey’s transition to a purely sonic experience, featuring live sound and infrasound recorded and developed by sound artist Chris Watson in collaboration with spatial sound specialist Tony Myatt.

Sanctuary is an installation and live iteration of Cemetery, an in-progress film project that has taken Casas around the world to locate the origins of the elephant graveyard myth. 
A decade in the making, this expansive project pays homage to the classic adventure films and documentaries that enthralled Casas as a child.' 

Sanctuary world premiere at Tate Modern, London, 2017. Photo: © Brotherton-Lock

Installation views at Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels, 2018.

Installation view at EMPAC, New York, 2019.