Giant plywood guitar orchestrated for Brisbane Curiocity Festival

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Made of plantation-grown Queensland hoop pine set atop a steel frame with nylon strings, The Immersive Guitar (TIG) was created over several weeks at the engineering lab on Griffith’s Gold Coast campus. It is is one of the highlights that will take centre stage at Curiocity Festival, a 17-day celebration of science, art and technology, taking pride of place at South Bank, in front of the Wheel of Brisbane.

The "world’s largest acoustic guitar" represents a "mind-blowing multi-disciplinary collaboration" orchestrated by lecturers from Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre and Griffith Sciences in conjunction with the DAF Salisbury research centre and Austral Plywoods, using Responsible Wood-certified hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii).

The TIG is 12 times the size of an ordinary guitar and can seat 25 people. The modular design was transported to Brisbane in shipping containers and is so large it had to comply with Queensland building codes. Described as “an instrument, a meeting place and a space for contemplation and conversation”, visitors can see what a guitar looks like from the inside, play the walls and strings and feel the music this oversized instrument creates.

The unique blend of music, design, engineering and sustainability was the brainchild of Queensland Conservatorium lecturer and world-renowned guitarist Karin Schaupp. “It was inspired by a work created by Vanessa Tomlinson at a Conservatorium launch, where she made the room into an instrument,” she said. “It sparked this idea of being able to listen to music inside a guitar.”


TIG creative team, left to right: Prof. Vanessa Tomlinson, Karin Schaupp and Dr Hassan Karampour

Composer and percussionist Professor Vanessa Tomlinson and Jocelyn Wolfe from the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre recruited engineering lecturer Dr Hassan Karampour, architect Bruce Wolfe and luthier Jim Redgate to bring the vision to life.

Structural engineering expert Dr Karampour said the project was one of a kind. “This was like building a guitar shaped house, with considerations around the acoustics, but also structural stability,” he said. “It was definitely a challenge, but it was so exciting to be part of a truly multi-disciplinary project.”

Professor Tomlinson is composing a piece to be performed on TIG and plans to use the installation as a teaching tool for her students at the Queensland Conservatorium. “This kind of collaboration is only possible at an institution like Griffith,” she said.
“TIG has amazing potential for the arts community, as a tourism drawcard, for teaching. I can’t wait to see the adventures ahead for TIG.”

The Immersive Guitar is on display at South Bank until 28 March as part of Curiocity Festival.


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