Site specific sound installation by Carsten Stabenow
commisioned by haiart, Hailuoto, Finland 2012
Reflecting on the location – the history of the place as a weather observatory as well as the local
surrounding and it‘s climate conditions and peculiarities the work approaches the festivals topic
‚wind as context‘ and experiments with the sonification of the environment
The project takes inspiration from two directions; the Aeolian harp (instrument played entirely by
the wind) known in the ancient world already and first described by Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680)
in his book ‚Phonurgia nova‘ (1673) (top) and the fascination for long string instruments and all
the phenomena of natural (fundamental) frequency mode, harmonics, standing waves, resonance,
pitched overtones etc. in vibrating strings. Here especially Alvin Luciers piece ‚Music On A Long
Thin Wire‘ (1977) (bottom).
But instead of using an oscillator driven magnet as in Luciers original piece the constant windenergy-
caused micro vibration of the wooden roof timber construction is rendered to activate the
string(s). The project uses an accelerometer (motion detection sensor) to pic up those frequencies
from the roof construction. These devices are normally used as measurement sensors in industrial
applications and are designed to pick up very low frequent structurally-born microsome activity
below 20Hz - the lowest frequency humans can hear. This signal gets filtered and amplified in a
higher frequency spectrum above the perception border and played back to a transducer unit
activating the strings.
The attic of the building was left as untouched as possible and just installed two sets of long
strings, tuned to the resonant frequencies of the timber construction (around 440 Hz).
Between the strings and the timber roof construction a dynamic feedback loop is generated which
is constantly modulated by the random wind energy. The whole space becomes a resonating structure
like the body of a wooden instrument and one can observe the many phenomena occurring in
vibrating strings - shooting sounds like in upper electricity cables for trains, rhythmic frequency
patterns ranging from a short reverb to longer echo sounds, higher pitched natural overtones, a
rich variety of slides and frequency shifts.