Aquaeolian Whirlpool

1st exhibition: New York Hall of Science, Queens, N.Y, 1990

A sound installation produced at the New York Hall of Science. A 3.20 meter-high vortex of water in a plexiglas tube is created by pumping water through the tube, and sucking it out from the bottom. An array of 35 meter-long piano wires are anchored to the bottom of the tube and as the water vortex flows across them, ‘aquaeolian tones’ are induced in the piano wires. The wires rise vertically to a soundboard near the ceiling of the space. Contact pick-ups are attached to the soundboard and the resulting audio signals are sent to a mixer. The inputs to the mixer are automatically switched on and off in random combinations and amplified into the room below. The sometimes thunderous sub-acqeous tones accompany the ebb and flow of the vortex which has the look of a tornado.

The Aquaeolian Whirlpool demonstrates that the music of aeolian harps can be transposed from the medium of air to the medium of water; that the music produced in both cases is a kindred phenomenon; that the flowing of water and air is fundamental to our production of music; and that in many cases, water and air are interchangeable substances in the generation and transmission of sound.

┬ęGordon Monahan 1990