Caroline Locke is internationally known for her sound sculptures and work combining new and old technologies. A major focus of her work is on making large-scale installations. Working with water, sculptural devices and objects, sound, video and live elements, Locke make works that are often sited in public spaces as well as in galleries and performance venues. Water and vibration are recurrent themes within her recent practice.
Locke was born in Somerset, where she studied at Somerset College of Art and Technology. She was awarded a First Class Honours degree at Nottingham Trent University and later studied for an MA in Contemporary Art by registered thesis.
In 1992 at Dean Clough in Halifax – in connection with the Henry Moore Foundation – Locke hung a 40 foot pendulum over the loading bays of the mill face. Only functional when moved manually by people, this work introduced ongoing areas of investigation in Locke’s work: notions of direct interaction; the transference of energy from one body to another, and the relationship between moving human and mechanical bodies.
Locke continued to work with mechanical elements and also grew increasingly interested in water, rhythm and flow systems. Domestic appliances became a source of fascination and she began making them run backwards, the idea of reversal becoming an important theme heading towards the turn of the new millennium – as though trying to turn back time.
As part of the Intermediate exhibition at Site Gallery, Sheffield in 2000, Locke exhibited Maelstrom, a work that used the coriolis effect to conduct water through spiraling pools, and Dog Tail Tale, comprising industrial spin dryers revolving in opposing cycles. A further piece, Bad Noise, was the artist’s homage to the fast disappearing vinyl record. She worked with musicians to produce a series of soundtracks that were only complete when two records were played at the same time – one in reverse. This work attracted much attention, touring to Berlin and Brisbane, and lead to Locke spending time at Abbey Road Studios in London where the soundtracks were mastered and cut onto vinyl records.
In 2005 Locke received an award for excellence in research for Hydrophonics, a live performance where musicians’ instruments were connected to water tanks so that the sound waves were visible on the water’s surface. The audience was able to watch and listen to sonic compositions based on the sight of the sound.
Later in 2005, 2006 and 2007, Locke spent time working in Australia, where she completed a term as visiting academic, working within the Centre for Electronic Media at Monash University and at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. She was international artist in residence at Raw Space, Brisbane. A film made during the residency was exhibited as part of Uncovered at ARC Biennial, Brisbane 2005.
In 2007 Locke worked in Melbourne with Casey Rice to develop software and hardware, which was later updated for the interactive Sound Fountains. In September of the same year, she installed permanent sculptures The Maastricht Sound Fountains within the New International school of Governance at the University Of Maastricht, The Netherlands. For this site-specific work, the artist recorded student voices and sounds from the environment around the building. These sounds were processed and combined within synthesised tracks, then amplified through the surface of the water to create waveforms and fountains.
In 2010 an updated Sound Fountain travelled to Neerpelt in Belgium.
Sound Fountains were revisited for an exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary in 2011 and as part of an artist residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2012.
Singing Pools have been installed in 2014, commissioned for Klankenbos (Sound Forest), a permanent collection of sound sculptures in the open air, Neerpelt, Belgium.
As Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Locke is a Principal Researcher within The Digital and Material Arts Research Centre at The University of Derby. In September 2014 she began a research residency with The Mixed Reality Laboratory at Nottingham University. Her work The Frequency of Trees became part of the Open Air Collection at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the Autumn of 2014.