ATMOSPHERE EVO-LUTE

AtmosphereFull_72dpiATMOSPHERE EVO-LUTE was a weather-driven sound installation created in collaboration with Martin Back at the MOV-IN Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.

Special thanks to April-Mae Bassett and Richard Northcutt for the use of their voices.

Description
Numbers are recited sparsely in random order by a female and a male voice.  The sound moves throughout the space in a four channel continuum. Periodically the male voice conveys “there’s a chance of sun or clouds or rain…” without clarifying what the probability is, implying that there’s always a chance of something.

A motorized harp drones on with microtonal variety reminiscent of aeolian stringed instruments. Electronic sensors positioned outside of the gallery measure temperature, humidity and light.  The measurements are combined to form an audio signal.  This signal, along with tones produced by the harp, activated by a small vibrating motor, are processed and altered.  Variations in data from the sensors affect the parameters of the process in a way that produces gradual changes in timbre.

On the wall is an array of lights in the shape of a right triangle referencing the theory of Pythagoras, who also pioneered harmonics, demonstrated by the electronic harp that is suspended in the middle of the room, its strings vibrating according to those laws.  The lights blink when activated by an insistent yelling voice.

Concept
Measurement has become a part of our daily lives and gives us a sense of knowing, of the truth.  It is undoubtedly the mantra of science.  But who is doing the measuring and how things are measured.  Political opinion polls are one example of how inaccuracies can actually affect reality. Certain things such as emotions are not quantifiable, and yet they are the very things that make us human.

The voices in this piece speak to the absurdity of trying to define the truth.  It is forever elusive and yet the search continues.  Pythagorus used mathematics to identify certain laws of physical behavior and tried to extrapolate those laws in order to identify the truth. a2 + b2 = c2 may always be true…but why can’t the absolute value of “pie” be determined numerically.  It seems that in every truth, there is non-truth and vice versa.

Harp2_72dpiATMOSPHERE EVO-LUTE a critique of the limitations of the abstractions of measurement. Our scientific measuring systems allow us to understand the world as such, but have likely removed us from understanding ecological and weather systems as a continuum–as organizations that operate in forever-unfolding arcs of large and small scale patterns. This piece is not about a literal translation of sensor data into an sequence of sounds where temperature X = sound Y.  It’s about combining sensor data into an amalgam, an analogue stream of electrons where changes in one reality affect changes in other realities. The sounds created by the motorized harp are composed of slow gradations–just as changes in humidity and light are mostly slow accumulations of change. The sun neither sets nor rises all at once–the planet turns slowly in a cycle of uninterrupted movement.

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