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Echo Point are solar-powered sound stations which play common sounds to influence breathing reduce agitation and build community resilience

by Justin Wiggan in Flushing, England, United Kingdom

Justin Wiggan is an artist working at the frontiers of arts and public intervention. His practice includes a range of media from sound, phonics, film, drawing, installation, interventions and performance, has also attracted collaboration across the medical research and creative industries sectors. His works have been exhibited nationally and internationally: B.O. M Birmingham, Protein Gallery London, Baltic Gallery, Citric Gallery Italy, Gigantic Art Space New York. His aim is to educate, share and engage people with sound as a creative field and reconnect with their lives using sound art. He also now extends his artistic practice into collaborative research in galleries, youth homes, and public access spaces with community groups and leading workshops within areas of vulnerable elements of society, palliative care, mental health and education. His work is described as ground breaking, and he has been cited as the most exciting artist working across arts and health in the UK today.

Echo Point is a physical installation designed for the public realm that plays a carefully curated and structured soundscape. which helps the listener to redirect negative emotions and enter a state of calm. The aim of the product is to reduce the risk of self-harm and suicide. Being a physical installation, the intervention acts as a focal point for people to enjoy and to talk openly about their mental health, making a negative space one for reflection and positivity. The soundscape uses crowd sourced data from the local community who have been asked to share the sounds they believe are their happiest, building a connection with the local community and a sense of ownership of the installation. The data is then used to engineer a soundscape that incorporates the sounds from the community and using frequencies (e.g. Delta waves and solfeggio frequency of 528 hz) associated with meditative practices. A prototype is being built, and the project is supported by experts across the public health domain.

 

In 2017, an estimated 45% of coastal fatalities around the coastline in the South West UK in 2017 were believed to have been due to people taking their owns lives. In response to this trend, the RNLI (www.rnli.org.uk) launched a design challenge which sought innovative interventions that would reduce the risk of people putting themselves at risk and directing them to crisis support. In collaboration with Public Health Team Cornwall, Echo Point was selected to receive support. Since kick off, the project has engaged several communities, including those at risk, to develop the soundscape and get it to the stage of deployment later this year. To ensure the sustainability of the impact of the intervention, we are exploring future ownership with multiple stakeholders and the potential to scale to other locations and use cases. 

 

The technical and creative lead, Justin Wiggan is a true innovator, applying his field of expertise of sound design to organisations pioneering new approaches to real, tangible problems. 

( http://www.life-echo.co.uk ) 

He has created a number of interventions to benefit community groups, including work with Ty Hafan, a children's hospice, whereby he translated children's names into birdsong, to be played in the memorial garden. Over time, the garden birds would go on to mimic the song, giving it an organic and living legacy (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/45367840). 

With an interest in mental health and wellbeing, Justin & the team experiment collaboratively and openly to push the boundaries of how curated and designed sound can have a positive impact on the listener. The Echo Point project is an exciting proposition for Public Health professionals who are seeking funds to deploy these installations in their environments. 

 

The first manifestations of the Echo Point will be a post and a bench, augmented with a sound playing device and placed in the public realm in two locations hopefully around Newquay, UK. 

 

To reach this point, the following milestones have been completed:

Milestone 1 (M1): Secured project stakeholders (RNLI, Cornwall Council Public Health, Regional Emergency Services). 

(M2): Community interviews and workshops to crowd source sounds. 

(M3): Analysis of data and design of soundscape. 

(M4): Testing of efficacy of soundscapes using electrodermal activity as an indicator of stress (indicative results are in the slide pack). 

Next Steps :

(M5): Pipeline growth of other stakeholders / product beneficiaries.

(M6): Reporting of project findings to sponsors and future partner groups. 

(M7): Plans for scaling. The IP is in the process and design of the soundscapes, which may be played on any commercially available device, reducing the complexity of potential scaling challenges.  

 

Next 3 months: 

Deploy 2 x prototype devices and monitor and evaluate impact (qual and quant) in line with public health guidelines. 

 

Next 12 months: 

Goal 1: Run 10 x projects with community groups and deploy devices around the UK, taking lessons from first iteration, e.g. improving and scaling data collection methodologies. 

Goal 2: Identify portfolio of Corporate Partner(s) to understand opportunities to add value and increase organisational wellbeing through project and deployment of Echo Points in organisational setting. Access to the NHS network would enable us to identify these potential partners and design and develop alternative physical manifestations of the Echo Point suitable for these new environs. Grant funding would enable development activity, allow further sound design, experimentation and evaluations, which would in turn subsidise activity in support of low income community groups. 

 

Project Journey Documentation here: 

( pictures / public engagement and sound study results / development videos and final product)  https://photos.app.goo.gl/KgvTPWpMuM5v7btA9

 

Press Video Here:

 https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/council-news-room/media-releases/news-from-2019/news-from-september-2019/cornwall-asked-what-sounds-make-you-calm-and-happy/

 

 

On-Line Questions here:

http://www.life-echo.co.uk/public/echo-point/

 

 

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