Wire Field


 
This site-specific sound installation was installed in Turku, Finland at the Turun Taidemuseon from June 1 - Aug. 25th, 1997. This work consists of a set of 32 piano wires strung within a gallery space roughly seven feet above the ground. The wires, which are arranged to fill the entire space and are tuned specifically to it, are struck by small motors spaced throughout the gallery. The motors are activated by a computer program which monitors and reacts to the sounds inside the gallery as well as to the actions of the other motors throughout the space. In addition, microphones are placed outside of the gallery to monitor the environmental sounds from outside, in this case sounds from the surrounding garden. The computer program operates in a manner similar to biological and other natural systems, where each single sound is produced (by a string being struck) as a reaction to those sounds produced by the strings in the space immediately around it, as well as by other sounds in the gallery. While the rules of behavior for each string are quite simple, in combination these 32 strings, each sensitive to several of its immediate neighbors, create a complex and delicate system of interdependencies which is intended as a direct analogy to the natural systems around us.
 
This system is easily "disturbed" by spectators or by sounds in the gallery and immediately outside the gallery in the adjacent garden, and can produce very elaborate responses to and interactions with the environment around it. In fact, the complex interrelations contained within this system make it impossible to predict - even for the artist - exactly the full range of responses and "sonic environments" which will emerge from the system over time.
 
The image below contains the "map" of relationships programmed into the piece (it is the equivalent of a "score"): the dots each indicate the location of a motor, the lines indicate the locations of the piano wires, and the arrows show the directions each disturbance can travel (two or more arrows indicate an indeterminate choice of direction).

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