I’m starting a project that’s much bigger than anything I’ve undertaken so far. It will be a sound piece, for starters and I’ve only done one sound installation so far. It’s going to involve building speakers, amplifiers and other electronic devices, as well as constructing a structure to contain it all. I’ve never soldered or built anything more complicated than a bookshelf. It will also involve immersing myself in the history of electronic music, and learning to create my own.
Essentially, I’m building a personalized version of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s spherical concert hall.
His idea was:
…a spherical space which is fitted all around with loudspeakers. In the middle of this spherical space a sound-permeable, transparent platform would be suspended for the listeners. They could hear music composed for such standardized spaces coming from above, from below and from all points of the compass. (Stockhausen Texte 1:153)
It’s a fascinating idea, but it was only built once (that I know of) at the 1970 Expo in Osaka. I think one could create amazing audio experiences and new ways of engaging and communicating with an audience.
Mine will be much smaller, probably around 15 feet, and made of cardboard, with 20 to 40 speakers instead of the hundreds that Stockhausen used. However, I think it will still capture the essential principles. Also, if I do it right, others will be able to reproduce it affordably. I might even be able to make it available as a kit. I think one of the reasons why haven’t seen more concert spheres is that the one Stockhausen built required the backing of an entire country to pull off. That doesn’t really lend itself to adaptation and exploration.
I’ll be creating a work or two for it myself, and recruiting other artists to compose pieces for it. For my own part, I want to experiment with field recording. Do you ever just sit still and listen to the world around you? I’m always amazed at just the ambient music of the world, that blend of natural and artificial sounds. The wind in the trees, the distant rumble of a jet plane, the cars going by, dogs barking. It comes at you in this sphere of sound that’s as unique as a fingerprint. It’s something I’ve always wished I could capture and share with others. Now maybe I’ll be able to!