Doug Aitken – Sonic Pavillion

Sonic Pavilion, 2009
pavilion of glass and steel, coated plastic film; tube well 202 m deep, microphones and sound amplification equipment
http://www.inhotim.org.br/en/inhotim/arte-contemporanea/obras/sonic-pavilion/

Sonic Pavilion (2009), a site-specific work developed from a preexisting idea, is the result of a five-year process of research, design and construction. The piece, although it was complex to produce, is based on a simple, albeit ambitious principle. Its construction involved the boring of a 200-meter-deep well in the ground in order to install a set of microphones to capture the sound of the earth. By way of a sophisticated system of equalization and amplification, this sound is played in real time inside the empty circular pavilion, which was designed to create equivalence between the audio experience and one’s relation to the surrounding space. Doug Aitken found at Inhotim not only the technical conditions for the development of this work, but also a context in which it would be meaningful. With its intrinsic link to nature, it follows in the same tradition as the Earthworks of the 1960s and ’70s, updated here through the introduction of technology and audio elements.
It is hard to define precisely what we hear inside Sonic Pavilion: micro-noises are generated within the earth, but the huge cavity also creates a space for continuous reverberation, whose sound is transformed by the process of equalization. We hear a never-repeating pattern rich in frequencies and textures, recalling the minimalist music of Terry Riley and Steve Reich. The latter’s description of one of his own works – Pendulum music (1968), in which the sound is generated by the movement of microphones in relation to the speakers – could equally define the continuous, live and open process of Sonic Pavilion: “Once the process is set up and loaded it runs by itself.”

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