day ring

five tracks, each made up of field recordings, tuning forks, violin (played by jacob danziger), as well as the tapping the benches. a 5.1 speaker system.  

“day ring” came out of an extraordinary opportunity to create a sound installation for the interior of the james turrell skyspace at the henry art gallery in seattle. the skyspace is a pristine freestanding small oval building with wooden built-in benches surrounding the interior and an oval cut out in the roof, creating the feeling that the sky is the ceiling of the space. it offers a meditation the sky, light shifts, time, cloud movement, etc. – and is a perfect artwork on its own that certainly did not need a soundtrack…

my first thoughts were to attempt to throw a simple tiny layer of sound “dust” into the space – creating a work that would be barely audible, and discreetly adding another layer to turrell’s space; but at some point the idea started to feel too easy, too “perfect”, too expected.

in a way, i felt that i didn’t really want to add something for the space as much as i wanted to make something in and of the space – so that my experiences with with the space (mainly looking up, and making field recordings inside of it the previous year) to generate ideas, paths, wanderings; where the results would be less forced, and less obvious. more than simply adding something to the space, i wanted to converse with it, and to possibly shift its use but also while allowing all of its own integrity to remain intact.

i think a lot of people perceive these spaces as pristine and pure, but the skyspace at the henry is close enough to a large street with traffic, so it is not uncommon to hear the sounds of cars, engines, horns honking, as well as sounds from the outdoor space where food and drinks are sold. these activity enhanced the silence of the space, offering a kind of humanness, rather than reverence – and an experience with bits of both.

overwhelmed with the situation, and struggling with an approach that would appeal to the site and my own practice, i happened upon a set of tuning forks – each one supposedly tuned to the orbit of a planet (yes, pluto was still a planet then!). i liked very much the idea of a viewer/listener looking up at the sky and listening – and all the time unknowingly that they were listening to a sound map of planetary orbits. i brought the tuning forks to musician jacob danziger and asked him to improvise with each of the resonant tones of each tuning fork. i then combined the sounds of the tuning forks, the violin, and the field recordings – some left as is, and some processed – to build the sound piece.

one thing that was important to me was that the insertion of my own into turrell’s space would still allow visitors to experience the skyspace without my work. and in many ways, that situation suggested my approach. and so, the piece ran on a schedule,so that those who wanted to hear my complete work from beginning to end (and perhaps, more in the form of a film screening or an event rather than an installation) – allowing those who wanted to explore the skyspace in silence, would to be able to do so; and having a clear begining and end, meant that i was using the space as a theater – not just for the sky, but for the sound piece (both of which modulated the space).

the final piece “day ring” was made up of 6 “movements” separated by short unprocessed field recordings that blended with the existing audio atmosphere. it was mixed for 5 larger speakers set into the benches, so that the sound could move along the oval form of the space – and some of the bass tones could be felt beneath the seats.

because the sky space was active via light at night, i also created a discreet companion installation called “night ring” which played at night very softly in front of the museum entrance – not exactly a re-mix of day ring, but using the same sounds. 

the sound file is an excerpt of movement one…