Digital Musics Students Win Prize at International Festival
Graduate students in the Digital Musics Program recently traveled to Cologne, Germany to install their new sound installation, Singer. The installation was chosen by a jury to be exhibited in a public space as part of the 2014 ACHT BRÜCKEN | Musik für Köln (Eight Bridges | Music for Cologne) festival. This year’s festival title was “Im Puls” (“In the Pulse”).
Shannon Werle, Carlos Dominguez, Ezra Teboul, and Angela Kim—the artistic designers of Singer—won second prize in the Composition Competition For Young Composers. The competition asked for works that examine the clash between mechanical rhythm and human pulse within the context of the industrial production line invented 100 years ago. Singer is a set of conveyor belts with glass objects attached to its surfaces. As the motors turn the conveyor belts, the attached objects strike tuned metal resonators and roll across the ground, producing melodic, percussive, and rasping sounds.
“The project was initially based on an image that we saw of the [installation] site… and was inspired by the Industrial Revolution,” says Werle. The coarse mechanical structure and rhythmic regularity of acoustic events elicit the automation of the manufacturing assembly line. The installation’s interplay with the gravel terrain forces spectators to be aware of the physical site. Visitors of the installation described the piece as meditative and drew comparisons to Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto’s large-scale sand installation Labyrinth (2010), which through its large footprint and choice of materials also commands an awareness of its location.
The digital musics students began planning their installation during the first week of classes and submitted their proposal in October 2013. “We were just getting to know each other, and we wanted to see how everyone would work together,” says Teboul. The installation was accepted near the beginning of spring term, and the team began building their first prototypes. While the group worked tirelessly together to realize their project in time for the festival, each member brought unique background experience to its fabrication—Kim conducted materials research, Dominguez architected the sonic design, Werle drafted schematic drawings, and Teboul handled electrical and mechanical construction.
Dominguez completes his MA degree this June while Werle, Teboul, and Kim continue in the Digital Musics Program for another year. The graduate students note that the success of Singer was made possible with much support and technical advice from the digital musics faculty, the Woodworking Workshop, the Jewelry Workshop, and the Thayer Machine Shop.
by Andy Sarroff