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An installation and performance-based work

proposed by Michael Harrison and Nina Elder


  • Project launch in 2020 at Ucross Foundation, Ucross, WY

  • Exhibit in 2023 at Turchin Center for Visual Arts, Boone, NC

Passage is a multi-disciplinary project that coalesces cosmic rhythms, spatial tonality, and the human experience in the form of a performance-activated art installation. Using sonic and visual tones to emulate the shifting universe, Passage creates space for contemplation, interpretation, and co-creation.


Composer and performer Michael Harrison and artist Nina Elder propose Passage, an interactive performative artwork that responds to the passage of one day of celestial and human time. The immersive room-sized installation interprets Earth’s light and dark, using illumination and shadow to simulate cosmic movements. This space will house and respond to a 24-hour musical composition based on the movements of the earth. The space will be experienced by intermittent visitors and activated by scheduled live performances.

Passage will create a multisensory holographic effect by combining performed and pre-recorded justly tuned constellations of tones with the audience’s movement through sonic and visual space. Acoustically and electronically generated tones will vibrate throughout the installation, while a shifting chromatic array of light and shadow will create subtle visual transitions. Collaborating with light engineers and astrophysicists, the performance and audio components will be synched with light movements that correspond to celestial bodies. The passage of individual audience members through the space will affect the sound waves as such that their bodies become sonic instruments, creating an interactive experience whereby they are also “performers.” Audiences will truly feel their place in the universe, at once experiencing harmony, their ability to cast shadows and to participate in disruption. As humans enter this era of social and climactic acceleration, we aspire to contextualize our species in deep space and time.

Passage will be prototyped during a supported collaborative residency in 2020 at Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. Once constructed, Harrison and other musicians will be scheduled to perform live inside the installation. These events will include musicians who are trained in diverse and responsive forms of performance, spawning new intercultural collaborations. Inspired by international and often archaic forms of music that prioritize tonality and environmental responsivity, these performers might include local Crow and Cheyenne vocalists and drummers, Indian classical musicians performing ragas at the appropriate times of day and night, as well as musicians skilled in the art of improvisation. These performances will be public events that are also filmed and published online.


In 2023, the prototype will expand into a full scale exhibition at Appalachian State University's Turchin Center for Visual Arts. Covering the main floor and two additional galleries, Passage will be the museum's largest single exhibit to date. The exhibition will be an opportunity for scholarly and creative programming that unpacks elements of time, sound, space, music, math, perception, and more.


Ideally, Passage will travel to other institutions, eventually finding a permanent home.

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