Olivia Block

Olivia Block

Olivia Block website

Sonambient Pavilion

Photo by Andrea Bauer

Photo by Andrea Bauer

Site/Sound check at Pritzker Pavilion (Photo by Alex Inglesian)  

Site/Sound check at Pritzker Pavilion (Photo by Alex Inglesian)

 

 Artist Note:

Sonambient Pavilion grew out of my admiration for Harry Bertoia's Sonambient sculptures, and an interest in the sonic aspects of architecture. I wanted to create an environment in which the visual layer of architecture--the curved, metal speaker trellis  over the Great Lawn at Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion, was overlaid with an invisible layer of aural architecture. This additional sonic layer was created from pointillistic, metallic chime sounds, originating from Bertoia's sculptures. The sounds "appeared" then dissolved like the flashes of fireflies in various parts of the location, and floated above the lawn in moving swaths of rich drones. Over the duration of the piece, these sound objects created boundaries on an invisible map, shaping a new sonic territory. 

Additionally, considering the themes described  in the writings of architectural theorist Lebbeus Woods, I wanted to create a metaphorical bridge between two amounts of resistance to architectural structure.  The  dense grids of office buildings in the loop, situated to the West of the installation's location, represented a lack of resistance to structure (total structure). On the other hand,  lake Michigan, directly East of the installation's location, represented an extreme resistance to structure in its fluidity. Sonic Pavilion, including the metallic trellis and overlaid sound piece, created a porous partial-structure--a public location made of sound and a sprawling metallic framework, which was somewhat fixed in place, but affected by the outdoor environment.

Chicago Reader article on Sonambient Pavilion by Peter Margasak

Preview video

Description from the Chicago Architecture Biennial site:

"Experimental Sound Studio (ESS), in collaboration with artist Olivia Block, presents “Sonambient Pavilion”, a sound installation using the 50-channel sound system of the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. The project is an homage and a re-activation of two sonambient sound sculptures by Harry Bertoia, located in Aon Plaza across from Pritzker Pavilion. Bertoia conceived the sonambients as site-specific works integrated into the architecture of the plaza. In “Sonambient Pavilion,” these sculptures are amplified and combined with electronic manipulations composed by Block, then spatialized into the overhead trellis loudspeaker array. The installation will result in a “canopy of sound” derived from the sonambients, and composed as a fluid sonic architecture superimposed onto the Pritzker Pavilion site. Through the use of transmission and computer technology, the delicate experiential nature of sound in architecture as envisioned by Bertoia gains new dimensions, transposed into an enveloping sonic experience – a built environment of sound."