Tone Rooms

composition and film

collaboration, 2017

film by Jonathan Turner

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Tone Rooms is created with electronic “sine tones” and uses non-traditional mathematical/musical relationships and extended “just intonation” tunings to illustrate new harmonic sequences. The rhythmic pulsations heard throughout the work are the result of interference patterns perceived by the brain as acoustical beats. When we hear two sounds of slightly different frequencies, an acoustical beat is perceived as a periodic variation in volume whose rate is the difference of the two frequencies. The complex tuning creates an invisible geometric formation of periodic composite waveforms which can be experienced as a sonic hologram in which the listener can move and hear different tones in every part of the room. Although the work is constructed entirely of sustained tones, the listener hears the “illusion” of layered and pulsating polyrhythms.

The imagery and aesthetics of the video largely derive from memory fragments of real or imagined civic and commercial environments of the late 70's though early 90's. As a witness to the rise and dramatic fall of mall culture, the resurrection of the inner city and the anxiety-fueled cinema documenting these times, I wanted the images to serve as moving meditations on a possible post-human existence. I was researching the late Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, and his curious insistence of creating a meditation room for all of mankind to 'fill the void.' Harrison's electronic work seemed to suggest a meditative architecture, as if each dramatic shift in tone suggested a specific shape and a specific mantra. A process developed whereby I paired these tones with the meditative environments I was developing. I then was forced to make architectural and animated solutions to connect these rooms. The resulting short film 'Tone Rooms' emerged from this process.

-- Jonathan Turner is a Brooklyn-based artist working primarily in video and animation for performance, installation and interactive media:

© 2019 by Michael Harrison