Where a straight line meets a curve
an installation by Karen Mirza, Brad Butler and David Cunningham
The soundtrack is based around a vocabulary derived from key works by Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros and Steve Reich. Three processes - why are some of these viable as music and others only seem to have survived as a historical one-off?
Lucier developed the multiplication of room resonances in his 'I am sitting in a room' (1970). This work is a self-sufficient statement which defines and initiates this process and leaves it to continue indefinitely. It is so conceptually well defined that subsequent use of this technique (particularly involving spoken voice) would appear to be rendered redundant.
The particular circumstance of 'Where a straight line meets a curve' was that all the film was shot in one room. During the filming Karen and Brad initiated a process of recording and replaying sound through the space as an attempt to further explore the physical, filmed and recorded space. Revisions of the spoken and textual content during the construction of the film/installation led me to appropriate this technique and use it in an attempt to bind the the spoken content to the visible space.
This is aside from issues of how difficult it is to work musically with this process. Long durations are a prerequisite and all harmonic movement is predetermined. Without severe disruption to the process this is not a conventionally malleable musical vocabulary which perhaps explains my perception of the vocabulary as a historical one-off.
The multiplication of room resonances in this work was developed through computer modelling of room acoustics, techniques initially developed for testing my installation work. In sections of 'Where a straight line meets a curve' the basic model of the spatial acoustic is multiplied many times, allowing the resonant frequencies to articulate the source material - rather like exaggerating the sound of the space so much that it becomes a bell.
David Cunningham 2003
Where a straight line meets a curve - technology
where a straight line meets a curve