--2 Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall—and change the Atmosphere Evo-Lute
Feb. 27, 2017

Hard Rain's A'Gonna Fall—and change the Atmosphere Evo-Lute

November 18, 2009, 12:00 am
By SFR Staff

5-8 pm
Friday, Nov. 20

Through Dec. 11

Mov-In Gallery
1600 St. Michael's Drive

Image at right: Phil Mantione by Alysse Stepanian

Opening this Friday in the Mov-In Gallery at the College of Santa Fe is Atmosphere Evo-Lute, an innovative sound installation by experimentally-inclined local musicians Martin Back and Phil Mantione. The installation is a series of sounds that are connected to various weather sensors around the Mov-In Gallery's building (the same building that houses The Screen), and adapts that data into shifting sounds and flashing lights. Well, SFR caught up with Back as he and Mantione prepared the installation, adn he explains it better than we could.

SFR: So when the wind blows, is there a dog barking? What happens?

MB: Kind of. There's a tendency in installation art to have sensors have a one-to-one relationship, so when it gets cloudy, then one thing happens. But we've got parameters of the sound being changed, so it's a little more subtle. It's not just a gauntlet of sounds, where things are going crazy all the time. But we're going to be reading light, motion, humidity, and possibly heat if we can get that sensor to work. It's affecting all kinds of things.

What types of sounds are included?

We have a harp that we built, an electric harp that's being activated by a motor that's taking in data. The harp is continuous. Some of the sensors are affecting the feed of the harp. There are some voices that are reading numbers, because a lot of this installation is about measurement—we have this obsession with measuring things. They're reading numbers of various data—weather data, and we have comet data coming in. You hear male and female voices, and some very electronic sounds, and some not-so-electronic sounds.  Some of the voices are activating lights that are in the space too.

Is the light the only visual component?

It's really just light. Light, and the harp, which we are treating as sculpture. It's very much a sound installation.

What was the impetus of this?

It was an idea that I had that was very rough, and I'd talked to Phil about it some time ago, and we thought it would be a cool project. It's a very different project than what I imagined, but that's always what happens. You conceive of something and through the process it becomes very different, but we're both very happy with it...People have done [weather-related sound installation projects], but they have always been kind of a novelty. Phil was telling me he heard about this one piece where this guy was taking all this data off the internet, and it was triggering off these dinky sounds, like a piano and a horn—and it's not very interesting. So our challenge was to use the data in an interesting way and to create a very interesting sonic composition at the same time.

Will this be a 24-7 thing?

It's gonna be constant, and probably very different depending on the weather, very different from one hour to the next. Very different from light to dark, from snow to no snow.

Let's say the humidity rises. What happens?

It could be that the tambor of the tone [of the harp] changes dramatically. If we suddenly got snow or suddenly got rain, it could be that something that you're hearing—say that you hear the harp going, and then all of a sudden it's saturated with a lot of strange affectations. It could become more droney, could become more sharp, something like that. We're trying to go for subtlety, because really, when you think about it, weather doesn't change all of a sudden. There are factors at work to where, yes, you may perceive the change as being sudden, but in the larger scope of things it's very gradual. The temperature changes radically when the sun goes down, and that's probably our most radical change.

How are the sensors connected to the sound equipment?

We're gonna wire them up.

That's a lot of wire.

Yeah, we're at Home Depot right now. Buyin' wire. Wireless is great, but for sensors, technology isn't really up to par. You get a lot of interference from the electricity going on in the building.

Can you estimate how much wire you're using?

About 200 feet. It's a lot of wire.

The reception will feature a performance by the Ancestral Groan Liberation Orchestra. What in the world should we expect of that?

It's an ensemble that Phil and I are members of. This group I put together last year, maybe 18 months ago, to do unconventional music scores like John Cage and things of that nature. We come from radically different backgrounds—Phil is a highly trained composer, I'm in training as a composer in an unorthodox manner with David Dunn. Some of our members are highly skilled musicians but have no training—one guy comes out of playing in punk-rock bands in LA. I've been encouraging them to write compositions for the ensemble to perform, so we're going to play some of those, and we're going to maybe to a piece by Christian Wolff, who was a dear friend of John Cage. It will be very, very interesting performance.


5-8 pm
Friday, Nov. 20

Through Dec. 11

Mov-In Gallery
1600 St. Michael's Drive


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