Location: Boston, MA, United States
Completion date: 2017
Artwork budget: $34,000
SOUND SCULPTURE is an interactive sound and light instrument. 25 location-aware blocks report their coordinates to the controlling computer, which in turn triggers each cube to light and make sound sequentially – “reading,” in a way, the musical layout, as created and constantly changed by the public's interaction. This allows participants to create not only physical structures, but musical compositions created and manipulated by the physical relationship of the cubes. It is like walking onto the staff paper, picking up the notes and moving them around, thereby changing pitch, rhythm, melody and harmony.
The goal of this project was to create a tour-able, physical sound and light instrument, playable by public and flexible enough to be site-specific. The work was not commissioned, rather a process of applying for grants, collaborations, and fund-raising. As a composer and public artist, it has long been my interest to involve the public in music-making and connection through creative play. The learning-curve inherent in most instrumental studies keeps many from really experiencing music as a creator, and participating in the dynamic group interactions well known to improvising musicians. Sound Sculpture has allowed me to open this door to many, and together create musical and physical structures.
I worked closely with the project's founding Technical Director, Andrew Hlynsky to refine the concept and source hardware and software components to create the work. As well, my former employer, light and sound artist / pioneer Christopher Janney was certainly influential. As the project crested its one-year anniversary I brought on a new Technical Director in Jeremy Stewart. Jeremy remains working with the project and has advanced the functionality greatly through custom software and extremely efficient hardware. As well, the positioning system designers, POZYX of Belgium have been excellent partners and worked alongside the project growing from the beginning. As well, fabrication-specialist Justin Keith has proved valuable in creating robust physical design solutions that are safe, durable, and repairable in the field.
I am fascinated by finding "back doors" to our creative process. As a composer, it had become my practice to develop a sense of form through media other than sound. Commonly I would make a sculptures out of clay, or paint, and sometimes, make forms with legos. I would then take these creations to the piano and start to find the musical qualities of the forms. After a few years of this approach, I started to ask myself if there would be anyway to more directly connect the physical forms with the sonic ideas I was hearing in my mind...