In a small, quiet and acoustically reflective space, hangs a large Pendulum, swaying back and forth keeping regular time. At either end of a lateral beam at the bottom of the swinging pendulum are two downward facing mirrors mounted half an arm’s length apart. These mirrors are connected to the beam with servo-motors that automate movement of the mirrors with two degrees of freedom to form a pan/tilt mechanism. The mirrors are programmed to move so that they sweep and rotate, dancing a digital choreography that keeps them in dialectic opposition to one another. Sitting on the floor directly beneath the pendulum is a wooden box. Within this box is an array of piezo transducers producing sound that is projected as a beam straight up into the swaying pendulum.1 As the mirrors pass the sound beam, they reflect it around the space to create a perceptually-unfamiliar, three dimensional, moving reflection-space that extends and retreats from the physical piece while incorporating both the rhythm of the pendulum and the trajectories of the oppositional mirrors into its sonic form. The signal heard floating on this beam – the sonic content, imbued with eco/political meaning - is the sound of glacial ice melting in Greenland intermixed with narrated speeches drawn from materials published by both climate scientists and climate change deniers.
1 This utilizes open source ultrasonic heterodyning hardware produced by Richard Haberkern.
The Coral organ is a hanging inflatable pipe organ. The main body - in the shape of a colourful tree coral is inflated from within by fans rendered quiet by a purpose-built acoustic damping system.
Air pressure within the inflatable body is used to generate the sound by resonating wooden pipes located on the branch tips. To do this, electronically activated valves are triggered by a computer to open up allowing air to “leak out” through the pipes energizing them into sound.
The Goldberg variations by J.S. Bach exist as data within the computer, and a motion sensor is employed to determine how the computer processes the original music data to create an ever changing “Variations on the Goldberg Variations.”
This video was made two weeks before the end of a successful crowd funding campaign with the aim of building many new Terpstra keyboards. Previously there had been only two prototypes, one in New York and one here in my studio. There had been a slowly building indication of demand from those who wanted a Terpstra for themselves. I was very involved in the development of these prototypes, acting as artistic director, fundraiser and musician/consultant on the project. Now in 2020, the Terpstra - based upon experience gained through these prototypes - has been completely redesigned and rebranded as the Lumatone.
Triquetraflux II Garnet Willis 2000
The Triquetraflux is a trio of acoustic sound sculptures consisting of interconnected "harps," cone - shaped structures each with ten strings touching the sides of balloon resonators. Each harp "listens" to the others, reacting to the constantly shifting sets of frequencies creating a chaotic feedback system that produces sound. This sound is then circulated among the harps, which react and send their responses back to the first harp. The trio exists in the moment, reacting to itself in real time. All sound heard from this system is acoustic; there are no speakers. Left undisturbed, the piece will constantly vary itself while reacting to ambient sound and shifting air currents. A computer allows for dynamic control of the feedback pathways within each harp, changing the probabilities. The limits can be adjusted in real time or they can be pre-set allowing for changes in the long form of the composition.
The Kinetoflux is an ensemble of four hanging electromagnetic 'harps', each one similar in structure to the sound board of a grand piano, the central spruce sound board sprung into a maple frame to maximize its sound amplification. The two highest harps are independent structures, while the two lowest harps share a common sound board and sound box. The ensemble contains 82 harpsichord strings spanning four octaves and tuned to pitches chosen to optimize their potential for sympathetic resonance. An alternating current fuels each octave, creating a magnetic field around each string, The magnets on the spruce board then attract and release the strings, causing them to vibrate, while the sound board acts as a natural amplifier. Significantly there are no loud speakers - although electrically powered, the Kinetoflux is an ensemble of acoustic instruments - you hear what you see - the natural sound of wood and strings.
Copyright © 2020 Garnet Willis - All Rights Reserved.