The sound sculpture sees 16 steam engine whistles reverberating around the city’s historic walls at 1pm on each of the 80 days of the exhibition.
It has been designed to recall the role of the North in engineering and the invention of the railway, sparking memories and forging links between past and present.
The work is an engineering feat in its own right, with each of the whistles being hand-cast and controlled by a modern IT system.
Mr Messam said the challenge was getting the whistles, which work on compressed air, to sound as if they were triggered by steam.
This was achieved by adding a metal disc which changes the pitch.
He said: “It still doesn’t sound exactly like steam because it is still air.”
The release of the compressed air into the whistle is governed by a Raspberry Pi computer programmed by Newcastle-based Nebula Labs. Each mini-computer is connected to the National Physical Laboratory’s atomic clock in London.
The Great Exhibition of the North runs from June 22 to September 9
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