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A Long Beach Sound Walk

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I recently spent a diverse Saturday night in hometown Long Beach checking out most of that night's fifth annual Soundwalk. I've been in the area, more or less, for all of the other four Soundwalks but never made the time for it until last month.  In fact, up until now my time spent with sound art has been limited to Beuys' sound poetry and the occasional Laurie Anderson record (who would fit perfectly at the walk, maybe next year).  By and large the pieces were cool, but some of the concepts got pretty redundant. For example: the nature vs technology concept was visited, revisited, and re-revisited ad infinitum, with only a few of the finished products turning out original. One of those bright shining examples in the natural field was “Peaks” by Robot Repair Projects, an American art collective. Using photographs of mountain ranges as the basis, Robot Repair Projects mapped the peaks and valleys of each range to form a sound wave. Each range emitted a low rumble that surprisingly appeared to get louder the less dynamic each mountain range was.

By far my personal highlight, though, John P. Hasting's “Sound Spiral”, another high concept sound installation but not nearly as heavily nature-themed. Tucked away in a small backyard on the north side of Broadway was Hasting's meditative spiral: eight speakers aligned in a perfect Fibonacci Spiral. Each speaker played a tone that decreased in pitch (each speaker's pitch was half as low as the previous)

Maybe it was the installation's relative isolation (seemed like nearly everything else there was attracting hordes) or the high-minded concept of it-which I'm always a sucker for-but Spiral won me over. The combined effect of the tones, as loud as it was, ended up being more relaxing and meditative than anything else I had seen (or heard) that entire night.

Photo courtesy Flickr user finishing-school. Used under Creative Commons license.

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