Art and installations usually invite us to engage with them from a distance. A gallery invigilator always hovers in a corner waiting for the moment they have to ask us to please take a step back. When a work asks you to interact with it physically, to hit it with a gong – as Carlos Amorales’s We’ll see how it all reverberates at NGV does – we’re surprised.

“The gallery space is a public forum and a space for reflection and contemplation,” says Max Delany, senior curator of contemporary art at the NGV. “Carlos Amorales’ work plays happily between these two conditions by allowing visitors to choose whether to interact with the work – becoming performers in the gallery space – or to simply observe. It is inspired by a history of avant-garde practices, including the Fluxus movement, which sought to eradicate the divide between art and life.”

The installation in the Federation Court of the gallery is made up of three suspended mobile sculptures that look a bit like Chinese spinning plates but are constructed from Zildjian cymbals. Delany first encountered the work, which has now been acquired for the NGV’s collection, when it was on show at the Guggenheim in New York last year. Amorales was inspired by the work of Alexander Calder, creator and originator of mobiles as kinetic sculptures. Visitors to We’ll see how it all reverberates are invited to touch and interact with the cymbals to create percussive sounds, Amoroles’ also channelling the spirit of Dada chaos and the Fluxus movement.

NGV has invited the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Victorian College of the Arts to perform with the work, and the question is: who will make more interesting sounds, the public or the performers? “The work elicits playful and sometimes anarchic responses from visitors! It encourages the full range of public imagination,” says Delany. “We have found that musicians tend to engage with the work in more reflective and nuanced ways.”

We’ll see how it all reverberates by Carlos Amorales is on show in Federation Court until November 8. The National Gallery of Victoria is hosting free live performances with the sculpture on September 5, 12.30pm (MSO), September 12, 12.30pm (VCA) and October 25, 12.30 (VCA).

ngv.vic.gov.au