a meditation on turrell - for westley banks (2018)

Site-specific work for James Turrell's Twilight Epiphany Skyspace at Rice University.
12.2 audio with integrated lighting.
Premiered 18 April 2018.
Duration: approximately 14 minutes.

My recent projects explore the audience's relationship with their immediate and perceived environments, and the Skyspace proved to be a critical centerpiece for exploring this relationship. The clean and structured design of James Turrell's Skyspace provides a unique foundation for creative work. It is a futuristic performance space that is deeply rooted in the anthropologic experiences of looking at the sky that blends classic and modern aesthetics to create an organic, seemingly flawless experiences with nature. I studied many elements surrounding Turrell's Skyspace to create a work that reflects on and challenges the unique properties present inside and out of the space.

The physical location of the Skyspace in the middle of Houston lends its sound environment to be active and indeterminate. At times, nature seems to take over with buzzing cicadas and heavy rainfall that obscures the proximity of the bustling Medical Center. Other times, human-generated sound dominates the environment with athletic events in the surrounding sports complex, roadways surrounding the campus, helicopters hovering toward the medical center, and general pedestrian traffic around Rice. Interactions between consciously created sound, consequential sound, functional/action based sound, and organic/environmental sound serves as critical foundations for the composition.

Fundamental to the composition is the relationship between the observer and their physical environment within the Skyspace. The experience itself emphasizes movement from actual to imagined reality, the later being a critical concept in Turrell's aesthetic. It is rooted in the observer's awareness of space and the environment surrounding it.

The work is dedicated in memory of Westley Banks, a dear friend and collaborator who had tragically passed away April 19, 2017. This work explores psychoacoustic and color theories that Westley and I often discussed prior to his passing. Incorporated in the fabric of the composition is the song Levitation by Beach House, from their album Depression Cherry. I felt it was necessary to use this song in the work because of its significance to Westley and his passing, as well as the function of the song in my personal grieving process.

This work is unique to the Skyspace's setting and resources through use of its custom integrated lighting and audio systems. The work has been archived through a stereo audio reduction and single-channel video of the lighting sequence. 

THANK YOU to SUB-POP and Beach House for their permission to use and process their original material.