- Northern Spark - http://2011.northernspark.org -

Sound Spandrel: Science Museum

In the discipline of architecture, the V shape between two arches is called a “spandrel”; negative space, but part of the design nonetheless. A site-specific sonic event somewhere between performance and installation, the Sound Spandrel foregrounds the marginal and the parenthetical to integrate music as part of a location's incidental soundscape. Exploring the intersection of sound, space, and human behavior, the performance responds to the acoustic character of an environment and becomes raw material for the creation of new audio structures within the space. Anything from the tonalities of heating and cooling systems to the buzz of light bulbs to the percussive patterns of footsteps and door slams inspire a score fleshed out by live performers and electronically blended back into the soundscape.

Commissioned performers include Charles Gillett, John Kannenberg, Bethany Lacktorin, Joe Nagel, and Davu Seru. Instrumentation features guitar, saxophone, zither, cymbal, bells, mbira, and digitally manipulated recordings of the actual space. Plans are afoot for mobile “choirs” of bells and harmonicas. The effect often will not be of something “happening”, but of an immersive sonic environment to be engaged at will. The audience's experience will differ based on vantage point, thus encouraging movement through the space to engage actively. Each spectator at a performance is usually relegated to a certain experience based on their location in the auditorium; here, an infinite variety of experiences can be had as the audience chooses its trajectory.

Mike Hallenbeck is a composer and sound designer active in film, theater, dance, installation, and performance. He adopts sounds found both hither and yon, brings them home to play with each other, and helps them decide what to be when they grow up.