Wet Sounds is an underwater sound art installation and performance - a deep listening experience

Touring swimming pools, it presents listening sessions to a floating and diving audience in the water. The participants are fully immersed in sound. Free to move weightlessly in the sound space.

"Astonishingly immediate, inescapable" / The Guardian
"like being in the womb" / Mizled Youth
"Exhibitions dont get much more successful than that" / The Wire

Wet Sounds effectively creates three sound spaces in the physical space of the swimming pool. One inside the water, one outside the water and one a merger of the two as the listener floats on the surface of the water. These three distinct sound spaces are chosen by the listeners as they move in and out of the water. The three sound spaces are used to convey parallel narratives, musical and literal.


Sound travels 4.5 times faster in water than it does in air. This cancels directionality in water as the brain does not notice the slight differences in the arrival time of the sound at the two ears. Sound is also perceived through direct vibrations of the nerve in the inner ear which gives the sensation of hearing, therefore it bypasses the outer and middle ear hearing mechanisms. Wet Sounds has had accounts of positive feedback from people hard of hearing that they can hear the sounds underwater.

Wet Sounds, created by Joel Cahen, first toured 10 cities in the UK in July 2008. Opening at in the London Fields Lido in Hackney and closing there with a performance of NURSE WITH WOUND and ANDREW LILES as part of the Cultural Olympiad's CREATE Festival.

Since then, Wet Sounds continued to install at various UK and International festivals (All Tomorrows Parties, Adeliade Fringe, Red Bull Music Academy, ISEA, Ultima, AV Festival, Spor Festival, Mutek, Elektroni(k), Scopitone, Nordic, Insomnia, Brighton Science Festival, Mackay festival of the Arts and more) as part of European City of Culture events in Tallinn (2011)and Ruhr Valley (2010) and tours in the UK three times, Scandinavia and Normandy. Details HERE.

Awarded Arts Council England and PRS Foundation support four times in a row, The British Council, local UK councils, local Scanidnavian councils as well as support from international funding organisations such as Nordic Kulturfund, Norway's Arts Council and FFUK Norwegian Fund for Performing Arts.


AQUADELICA _________________________________________________________________________________________
JOEL CAHEN plays a multichannel composition in vertical alignment. The installation is adapted to the pool architecture but is essentially prepared for up to four stereo systems: a stereo pair on the balcony, four passive speakers in stereo on stands with two subs at the corners of the pool (outside the water), two passive speakers on pool side floor at audience ear level, and underwater speakers inside the water.

SOUND ART GALLERY __________________________________________________________________________________
Three listening gallery have been curated and selected following on from a call for proposal for three UK tours.

Wet Sounds 2008: Twenty artists created work for the gallery. The theme being Water and interaction with it.

Wet Sounds 2009: Under the theme of Audio Cinema - narratives in sound, Nine artists created work for the gallery. The work aims to give a sense of narration and cinematic soundscape.

Wet Sounds 2011 The theme is ReVerse, based on the division of the pool into two distinct sound spaces, one above and one below the water surface, they are heard together only while floating on the surface. ReVerse explores opposites and dichotomies as inspiration for sound composition.

LIVE PERFORMANCES __________________________________________________________________________________
Sound artists / musicians are invited to create a live performance for Wet Sounds. The special arrangements of the soundsystems and the specifications for underwater playback mean that their performance at Wet Sounds is a unique platform for their composition. At most tours, Wet Sounds involves local artists as part of the program.

Artists who played live at a Wet Sounds event:
Pierre Henry
(presenting new work Analogy for dual soundsystem and swimming pool), Nurse With Wound, Andrew Liles, Ernesto Tomassini, Z'EV, Dopplereffekt, Frank Perry, Cluster, zoviet:france, Eric La Casa, Adrian Moore, UnicaZurn, Mira Calix & Andrea Parker, Simon Whetham, Cheapmachines, La Horrox, Graham Bowers, Andrew Lewis, La Couteau Jaune, Neil Campbell, Joe Gilmore, Francisco Lopez, Stefano Tedesco, Leafcutter John, Tom Haines, Amir Shoat, Milo Taylor, Kemialliset Ystavat, Pal Asle Pettersen, Anders Gjerde, Kurt Bolianatz, Espen Somer Eide (Alog), Magnar Am, Maia Urstad, Jana Winderen, Henry Collins (DJ Shitmat), Heloise, Arran Poole, Antoine Scaviner, Ebe Oke, Marklion, Guillaume Hairaud, Audunn Eriksen and Arnfinn Killingtveit.

Live art.
Wet Sounds is also a platform for performance artists who use the water space as a space for live art. The weightlessness the water offers as a medium and the unusual audience location, floating above them or diving in between, is a source for inspiration for new ways of theatrical interaction.

Underwater performance artists: Louis Clement Da Costa, Rosie Sheba and the Dive Shack Team, Mat Humphrey.

RELAXATION _________________________________________________________________________________________
A session which is offers relaxation through sound content and frequency. It is best played when installing in a hydrotherapy pool or a pool where the water is heated to over 30 degrees and special light conditions. It relates to floatation tank experiences through a similar method of comfort.



Wet Sounds has developed to create tailored sessions for people with special needs and the hearing impaired. In collaboration with producer Adele Drake we have formed LIQUID VIBRATIONS, a charity providing an underwater listening programme to serve people with special needs and the hearing impaired to improve their quality of life and general well being.

We currently provide training sessions for staff a special needs schools for implementing musical hydrotherapy at their schools.

In 2010, sessions have begun at the St Nicolas School in Canterbury and developed to give the benefits of learning through sensory experience, observing it to be educational and therapeutic in encouraging movement. We have demonstrated the curiosity and interest of the children in sounds and music, the environment and whales. Physical movement can be improved when music is a motivation (observed within Drake Music) and it is much easier in water.

We are working with Steve Karle a Watsu practitioner and in collaboration with researchers from Roehampton University.

As of Spring 2018, we initiated programmes at the Redway School (Milton Keynes), The Bridge School (Camden) and St Nicholas School (Canterbury), Bedelsford School (Kingston), Willow Dene (Woolwich).

DONATE and help us provide these sessions to the children who await for it at other schools in the UK.


Setup for a regular session without special lighting commences three hours before the session is due to start. This does not interfere with the pool schedule and swimming can proceed as usual up until 20m before start time.

After the session ends it takes up to 60min to remove all the equipment. Regular swimming can commence immediatly after the session ends. Setup and break down do not interfere with the pool schedule.

Basic requirements from the pool are: A decent size desk or table; A couple of chairs; a power point of 240v by the desk; floats or woggles for the audience to assist floating.

Newtoy Ltd. holds Risk Assessments, Public Liability Insurance, PAT test certificates for all equipment used. These are available upon request.

WET SOUNDS is a project by Joel Cahen under production of Newtoy Ltd.