when stars become words… (installation)

when stars become words… was commissioned for the mercosur biennial in porto allegre, brazil in september of 2007. the piece consists of two large sculptural structures with sound. the structures as well as the sound compositions were built through various translation systems related to a list of 50 star names published by the adler planetarium of chicago in the early 1940’s.

i used the vowels of the star names to generate a series of parts that were pieced together to create the larger forms – 13 towards the smaller structure, and 37 towards the larger. the painted areas were also also determined by the vowels in conjunction with arthur rimbaud’s color vowel equivalents. the sound compositions were created from scores using the visual forms of various southern hemisphere constellations that included the same 50 stars.

while there is a level of pre-determined rigidity to the scoring process, the building and composing was actually quite intuitive, the pre-determined and the intuited conversing at all times.

the smaller piece was approx. 12 feet tall, and hung from the ceiling; while the larger piece was approx 25 feet long and 12 feel tall, allowing 8-10 people inside together.

the structures were built, in collaboration with the porto allegre based architect rafael silva, and a group of local carpenters working with wood. the carpenters mainly worked with building sets for plays, so the sculpture had a strong feeling of a temporary structure, and was wonderfully compatible with my aesthetic – more bout construction than speed. many of the aesthetic decisions were not only determined by the score, but also by the lack of engineering, thus the final results have an aesthetic wrought through structural necessity, and hence, the sculpture became much more interesting visually.

the sound source for the hanging piece was an old zither, while the sound source for the larger work was a very old hohner “trumpet call” harmonica. the sound pieces existed within the spaces at very low volume levels.