Spontaneously Harmonious in Certain Kinds of Weather

1st exhibition: Sonambiente Festival, Singuhr Hoergalerie, Berlin., 1996.

This aeolian piece functions in an indoor space using wind draughts caused by pressure and temperature differences between outdoor and indoor atmospheres. Selected windows in the upper belltower room of Parochial Kirche (Berlin) are opened, and a room-within-a-room is constructed in the belltower, thus isolating these two different atmospheric pressures. The cold air inside the belltower is pushed down the stairwell by hot air flowing into the tower through the open window(s). The air flows through a 20 to 30 mm aperture between two parallel panels of glass and steel sheet, which form a frame approximately 30 cm. x 8 meters in dimension. This frame-aperture is mounted into the ceiling of the inner room and stretched between two pillars. Between the steel and glass aperture is an array of music wires stretched parallel to the surface of the steel sheet and contacted to the sheet by small metal sound bridges. The air flows over the strings causing them to vibrate in an aeolian mode, and the harmonic tones created are amplified by contact to the steel sheet through the sound bridges. Additional amplification may be also necessary, using electrical means (piezo pick-ups and small PA). The frequency and intensity of tones vary according to the pressure differences on the two sides of the aperture. Texts pertaining to historical observations of aeolian phenomena, dating to the rennaisance, are printed on acetate sheets and laid over the glass.

Because the production of sound in this case is wholly dependent on natural systems, the public may or may not be present when the most interesting sound is produced. Some visitors may not hear any sound at all. This raises aesthetic questions of performance/non-performance, withholding of such performance, and ‘being there’ or ‘missing’ the music or the message.

┬ęGordon Monahan 1996