When you take science and art together, you can often reach a new level of understanding. For example, the iconic Pink Floyd image separates white noise or light into their components, waves of different lengths. Just click on the black triangle:
Other demonstrations of what these waves can do are given in recent exhibitions. Earlier this year in London we had The Light Show (April 17th blog, below) and now there’s Soundings – A Contemporary Score at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
It’s their first major exhibition of sound art and presents work by 16 of the most innovative contemporary artists working with sound. These are the longer electro-magnetic frequencies, at the right hand end of the spectrum (above and below). In the middle of this spectrum is visual light and to the left, beyond the infra-red, are x-rays and radioactivity.
The works in the New York exhibition (www.moma.org) include architectural interventions, visualisations of otherwise inaudible sound, an exploration of how sound ricochets in a room, and a range of field recordings such as echolocating bats, abandoned buildings in Chernobyl, 59 bells in New York City, and a sugar factory in Taiwan.
T Perich’s installation is Microtonal and comprises 1,500 speakers in an aluminium wall panel. The overall effect is the monotony of white sound, but if you get your ear up close to one of the speakers ……….
C Norment’s Triplight is silent. An old lamp flickers on a broken microphone casting blurred shadows in the space. You recall a smokey room in a dingey jazz club and you imagine the music and laughter.
S Tcheripnin has taken a subway bench that looks ordinary enough and also stays silent. When you sit on it sound is transmitted up through your bottom.
Meanwhile, in Boulder, Colarado, composer Jeffrey Nytch is more explicit about making music with a science theme. His first symphony called Formations was composed with the geology of the Rocky Mountains closely in view.
The Boulder Phil played the premier on September 7th 2013, with the familiar range of wavelengths from its instruments;