Amplifiers, hidden speaker wire, induction loop receivers, headphones, sounds of the sea. Commissioned by Caramoor, as part of the group exhibit In the Garden of Sonic Delights.

Sunken Gardens will be on exhibit at Caramoor from June 7 – November 2, 2014. Opening day is June 7; the Sonic Delights Festival is July 20. More information here.

Sunken Gardens is a performative 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 will be inaudible  to the naked ear, but visitors, with the help  of special receivers amplifying this sound  field, will be able to sonically navigate this  invisible landscape, creating their own  musical form by walking amidst the many  musical elements which make up its sonic  and geographical structure. Like a piece  of music, Sunken Gardens will contain  fragments of narrative and harmonic  structure; unlike traditional music,  visitors will play the piece non-linearly  simply by walking through it.

The technology for Sunken Gardens —  ‘induction loops’ or ‘hearing loops,’ as they  are more popularly called — is decades old,  but is regaining popularity because it’s so  helpful for those with hearing loss. Most  hearing aids (and the receivers visitors will  use) are equipped with telecoils, which  amplify the electromagnetic waves given  off by the induction loops, and enable the  listener to hear concerts, lectures and in  this case, an invisible sunken garden.

Many thanks to the wonderful Ranjit Bhatnagar for the technical direction of Sunken Gardens, as well as to the Harvard University Department of Music and its Hearing Modernity seminar, whose fellowship gave me time to devote to this project.