It’s been some time since I last posted, and oddly enough, the idea that began as a possible conception of a piano piece has in that year or so taken shape as a very large outdoor sound installation (though I am toying with the idea of creating a piano or chamber piece out of it as well). It’s part of the really wonderful “In the Garden of Sonic Delights” sound art exhibition at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, New York, and it runs until the first week of November. I’m excited to be in the show with artists such as Laurie Anderson, Trimpin, Annea Lockwood, Bob Bielecki, and Stephen Vitiello.
Here’s a snippet of what you’ll hear as you walk around:
Here’s some of what I’ve written about it:
“Sunken Gardens is a participatory audio installation, in which a new layer of sound — a sonic underwater world full of bubbling noises, creaky technology, sonar sounds, oddly vibrating chords, surprising fragments of text, and so on — is added to the existing landscape. These sounds are inaudible to the naked ear, but visitors, with the help of special receivers amplifying this sound field (through induction loop technology), are able to sonically navigate this invisible soundscape, creating their own musical and narrative mix by walking amidst the many elements which make up its sonic and geographical structure. Sunken Gardens was inspired by a reading of the Jules Verne novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
Here’s a nice little video Caramoor produced about Sunken Gardens:
“At that moment I heard the vague chords of the organ, a sad harmony under an indefinable melody, veritable wails of a soul that wished to break all terrestrial ties. I listened with all my senses, hardly breathing, plunged, like Captain Nemo, in one of those musical ecstasies which took him beyond the limits of this world.”
– Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Doesn’t that sound like a great starting point for a piano piece?
I have always loved reading children’s novels — I was an utter bookworm when I was young — and I recently discovered this fantastic book, 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. It’s chock full of all kinds of books, from picture books to novels thought-provoking for adults as well as kids. I’m embarking on a project to try to read everything on the list. Last week I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; this week, Huck Finn. I think this will be a good way to mine the rich veins of musical and sonic memory.
This was originally the final paragraph of my essay for Bettery Magazine last month, and I’d thought I’d share it here and see what you all thought.
“I was thinking about the ecosystem of creativity the other day, that it’s like compost and water and sun. The compost of a creative project is the layer of sensory information and stories fertilizing imaginative growth. Watering it is giving it our attention, and sunlight is giving it space, backing off a little bit, inviting rather than forcing participation. How do we use technology to feed this ecosystem, to engage ourselves with the world around us, rather than using it to isolate and distract? When is it appropriate to sidestep technology, or at least the convenience and frictionlessness of the virtual world, so that we can continue to snag our lives on meaningful and pleasurable rituals? I would love to hear your ideas.”