with an ear to the earth…

bronze sculpture
sound composition
permanent installation
hayvenhurst park
west hollywood california

with an ear to the earth was commissioned by the city of west hollywood as a permanent public art project for hayvenhurst park.

i began to think about the idea related to an “old wives tale” that i was told as a child, which was if you dig a hole deep enough you will end up in china. i looked at a globe to see if this was true, and in fact, if you make a direct straight line from los angeles, you will not end up in china, but in the ocean.

so i started to think about ocean sounds, but it was too easy, too literal, and would’ve simply turned the victrola horn into a sea shell… so i started thinking about how this area of ocean is not static, and how people maybe move through it at times, which led me to some early recordings of ship horns. these were quite beautiful but also too big and disturbing for a small park; so instead of manipulating the ship recordings, i notated their pitches and chords, and replicated them using a banjo played with a violin bow. this transformed the thunderous sounds into a presence more like a kind of sound shadow or sound apparition – particularly as the sound occurs only once an hour, for several minutes.

these distant horns drifting, are now a series of “half melodies”, not exactly hummable, yet still suggestive of a traditional music. the idea is that these sounds will appear and disappear gently throughout the day unexpectedly,  like the wind awakening for a few minutes to “sound” the leaves. my intention is that the installation has the presence of a small pool of water, to create a mental space for daydreaming and mental wandering.

the sculptural object is made of bronze, and was cast actual size from a speaker horn from a wireless radio set up, circa 1910.

the piece was a collaboration with artist john o’brien.