blinking lights at night

sound installation
phonebox at imo projects
copenhagen, denmark

blinking lights at night was created for a small telephone booth size space within IMO Projects gallery in copenhagen. within the space, i presented a sound work on a 7″ record to be played on 1960’s orange plastic philips record player. the space also contained a stack of printed postcards with text and image related to the piece. the record was a one off, while the postcards were done in an edition of 500 to be taken away by visitors.

here is the text on the postcard:

“i’ve been visiting a view in japan for nearly twenty years. seen from a balcony on a kobe hillside, it looks down towards the ocean. in daylight it is a vast view, moving from a hillside to city buildings to a port and the ocean beyond. in darkness, looking out towards the sea, a vast cluster of tiny city lights hovers within the darkness like a telescopic image of a galaxy. amidst this night field, i always feel my insides tugged towards several blinking lights spread out along the nightscape. i’ve spent many evening moments in quiet reverie, staring at the lights, as they blink at different intervals. one evening in may of 2009, i stood on the balcony watching the rhythms of these ten familiar blinking lights for a long time… and they became a kind of silent music. their various rhythms seemed to hold the potential of a score, and i began to record my voice for about thirty seconds, making a series of short “beep” sounds in sympathy with the speed of one of the blinking lights. i then made a similar recording following each of the others. one year later, i was thumbing through my notebook, thinking about the intimacy and isolated darkness of a phonebox, and happened upon a drawing that mapped the location of those ten lights. because i have always experienced the view alone and in relative darkness, i began to think about how this outside visual experience at night might be able to converse with an inside audible experience in a small dark private space. listening to my voice, i replicated each of the light rhythms on a different note of an old glockenspiel, and layered the recordings so that the relationship of the notes would resemble that of the field of blinking lights. i decided to present it as a 7” record because such an object needs to be activated by a visitor, as if one were opening a door to step inside, and closing it upon returning to the outside…”

i suppose in many ways the piece is an exploration of mapping, landscape, motion, and translation or transposition of information into other forms, as well as using an existing motion in the world to determine the motion of the music, or sound or composition. it is also a meditation on death.