All aboard for 5 Short Blasts

5 Short Blasts_Dean PetersonA new arts participation project will take people on a nautical encounter to experience Melbourne as a waterfront city. 5 Short Blasts is an intricate audio based project focusing on the complex orchestrations of weather, industry, vessels and habitation in and around Melbourne’s docks.

From Water Plaza in Victoria Harbour and Collins Landing at the Docklands, audience members will board one of five boats to embark on a choreographed listening journey. Those aboard will have their attention shift from the land to the water – ports, jetties, harbors and the people that use them every day.

Floating on a large body of water in a quiet electric boat, collaborating sound-music artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey invite audiences to navigate Melbourne’s waterways in a whole new way.

Councillor Rohan Leppert, Chair of the City of Melbourne Arts and Culture portfolio, said 5 Short Blasts allows us to embrace and engage with the city from a totally different perspective.

“This unique production shows us that Melbourne really is a waterfront city,” said Cr Leppert. “5 Short Blasts expands our view of Melbourne and reveals an almost hidden world on the water.”

Skippers on board will steer the boats through the Port of Melbourne and along the Yarra River, recounting water tales through recorded interviews of those who work and play on the water.

Each boat is fitted with a custom “sound esky” featuring a VHF marine radio that monitors weather broadcasts and vessel traffic from the Melbourne Vessel Traffic Service.

“In maritime operations, communicating via a signal of five short blasts means ‘I am unsure of your intentions – I am concerned we are going to collide,” says said Flynn and Humphrey.

“As a title, 5 Short Blasts evokes a sense of mystery and unknown about Melbourne’s water culture.”

Over the past 18 months, the artists researched many aspects of maritime life and conducted over 40 interviews with people connected to Melbourne’s waterways. These interviews make up the soundtrack to the work.

During the voyage, the waterway communities will play out their usual waterside activities (including fishing, rowing, semaphore and paddling) choreographed to complement the sound work.

5 Short Blasts is produced by the City of Melbourne’s Arts Participation Program with support from Port of Melbourne Corporation.

5 Short Blasts
Flotilla 1 – departing Water Plaza in Victoria Harbour
Flotilla 2 – departing Collins Landing at the Docklands
Season: 22 November – 15 December 2013

5 Short Blasts is a free event but bookings are essential as spaces are limited. Trips are also weather dependent.

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: by Dean Peterson