Laid Plans

Laid Plans was commissioned for Soundwave ((7)): Architecture as a site-specific work for the Yud Gallery at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in SF. The piece was performed twice there in September 2016.

This performance involved Emily and I arranging  “beacons” to outline archetypal building forms, with the acoustics of each form being represented within the texture of the composition.  Each beacon consisted of a 6′ plywood panel with a surface transducer mounted to the back, meaning each panel became a “loudspeaker” in and of itself. As we re-arranged the forms, a novel sonic space was created by the movement of the beacons. We also had an 8-channel circular array of traditional loudspeakers, as well as the Yud’s distributed overhead system. We chose 4 archetypal building forms: a pyramid, a Parthenon-like temple, a stone circle, and the Yud space itself.

Each architectural form created a movement generally following this structure:

  • A movement started with Emily and I together at either the front or rear of the audience. We slowly made our way to the stage, and on our way we outlined the shape of the building by arranging the beacons on the floor, symbolically laying the foundation of each building.  The beacons created sound trajectories as we walked.
  • When we got to the stage, we “raised” each building by transferring our sounds virtually into the acoustics of the space representing that movement. We did this by building a 3D computer model of the space and calculating its acoustic character. The music in each movement also represented something about the architecture — The Parthenon archetype had Pythagorean “harmony of the spheres” type simple musical ratios, the stone circle focused on polyrhythmic percussion, etc  

The last movement featured the architecture of the Yud space itself, showcasing Libeskind’s work as an example of contemporary asymmetrical/non-classical forms.  This movement was electroacoustic, and served as a means of concluding the piece by coming out of the abstract/virtual and into real space.  This movement involved arranging the beacons at the asymmetrical edges of the Yud, and turning the 8-channel loudspeaker array toward the walls to rely of reflected sound to create the piece.  

From the original proposal (for the DeYoung)
From the original proposal (for the DeYoung)
From the original proposal (for the DeYoung)