Resonant Geometry

Resonant Geometry is a performative exploration in redefining geometric space through the phenomenon of resonant feedback. The framework of the project is based on a tempered or adjustable system intended for real-time performance using tensioned lengths of instrument wires that act as both real and metaphorical lines that define space. The dimensions of this space will be measured by the sonic responsiveness of the signals in the system. In this way, not only does the installation itself function as an instrument but becomes an extension of the space itself. The wires resonate when induced with direct signals to generate electronic tones resulting from the physical movement of the wires. What we hear, in a sense, is a auditory translation of a spatial dimension. Such an experiment, is based on a speculative reasoning, to “measure” the degree to which a space has an inherent “tuning” based on its geometric proportions. The point to point 2 dimensional lengths of wires can be extended, woven and cross-crossed in a 3 dimensional space adding complex layers of tonality, dissonance and harmonics to the auditory translation process. With multiple dimensions explored, emphasis will be given to the physicality that is most likely to define the acoustic properties of the space such as reflections and reverberations. The resulting sounds can be seen as an audible “translation” of architectonic space.

Technically, each wire span will be fitted with a piezo pickup on one end and a transducer on the other. The piezo signals will be fed into a mixer where they can be routed to different outputs. To control the feedback, the signal will be “chained” to introduce more complex resonances. It would be optimum to install a minimum of 4 wires, but preferably six or even more may be tested. The system can be easily amplified by taking the output signal from the mixer or left to play with acoustic enhancement from resonators such as boxes or buckets. The system is also designed for maximum flexibility and portability. Ideally, the installation would be run as a performative process over a period of several hours or even a day, as if I was an auditory researcher seeking out hidden meanings within the space.

Resonant Geometry at Tuned City 2018, Messene Greece
Resonant Geometry performance at Tuned City 2018, Messene Greece

Tuned City 2018

Resonant Geometry was installed on location in the active archaeological site of Ancient Messene in Peloponnese Greece for the Tuned City event in June 2018. Although it proved difficult to settle on a location (due to strict regulations of the area), I eventually was able to set up the installation in an open area between 4 olive trees. An open ground area had to be focused on instead of an architectural space because of the limitations of using the historical stone objects for projects. So the geometric space was modeled after an archaeological excavation site with the instrument wires functioning as string lines and corner boards serving at the fretting points. I had the luxury of spending several days ‘tuning’ the wires to best accommodate the feedback signals and the amplified output sound (2 monitors hidden in the trees). The audio in the video below was taken from two of the live performance sessions that were held during the final program. It should be noted that no external signals were added. All the sounds heard were generated by the resonance of the wires themselves, which were modulated by my adjustment of the levels and equalization on the mixer. I would like to thank Carsten Stabenow and the Onasis Foundation in Greece for their support of the project.

Architecture of the Senses, Plasy Czechia

In October of 2018 I was offered the possibility to present Resonant Geometry at the Architecture of the Senses seminar in Plasy, organized by the Agosto Foundation. Once again the installation was relegated to an open area instead of an architectural space as I had proposed and again it was because of the difficulties in accessing a historical monument, in this case the baroque Cistercian Monastery of Plasy. So I opted to set up the wires in a linear manner in order to manage it more like an instrument (an due to limited tuning time). The result was similar to Messene with the emphasis on blending the output levels in with the surrounding soundscape to contextualize the installation.

Resonant Geometry in the yard between the horse stables and technical museum at the monastery complex of Plasy, CZ.

Copper Leg sound performance, June 14, 2020

Excerpt from the live performance at Copper Leg in Vaskajala, Estonia
photo by Villem Jahu

Further developments

Naturally it would be ideal to setup a Resonant Geometry installation in an architectural space. Because of the limitations placed on certain buildings this would have to be done in a ‘normal’ space without any particular restrictions. With the wire structures spanning the dimensions of the space, the resonance with have the dual function of being embedded physically and sonically through the amplifies sound. The question remains as to what degree the these differing physical and acoustic frequencies converge as consonant or dissonant signals.

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