Published: May 16, 2016
NEW YORK CITY — Musicians are invited to create recordings with an installation of sounding sculptures currently on display in the Museum of Arts and Design’s (MAD) exhibition “Atmosphere for Enjoyment: Harry Bertoia’s Environment for Sound.”
The environment explores the Sonambient sculptures of Bertoia, an artist and designer whose career spanned just over 35 years.
Known to many as the designer of the “Diamond” chair still in production today by Knoll, Bertoia was also a prolific maker of prints, jewelry and sculpture—both intimate and monumental—that grapple with properties of light, volume and sound. He created much of his work from metal wire and rods, and toward the middle of his career, he discovered that when these strike one another, they make lush, resonant sounds. By the early 1960s, he was creating prototypes for his sounding, or tonal, sculptures—work that would eventually occupy the remaining years of his career.
These sculptures would become collectively known as Sonambient, a combination of the Latin roots of the words “sound” and “environment.” In 1968 Bertoia began to set up the Eighteenth Century stone barn on his property in Pennsylvania to house a selection of his sounding sculptures and gongs. There he recorded 360 (known) reel-to-reel tapes of the sculptures. The barn is still standing today, with 91 original sounding sculptures installed inside, as Bertoia had intended them: an environment for sound.
MAD’s exhibition includes an interactive display of Sonambient sculptures created by Harry Bertoia’s son Val Bertoia. Every final Friday throughout the run of the exhibition, MAD invites musicians to create sound recordings with this installation. These Studio Sessions may be booked in one-hour segments, and artists must provide their own recording equipment.
Dates are May 27, June 24, July 29 and August 26, 6-9 pm. Free with museum admission. To schedule a recording session, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Museum of Arts and Design is in the Jerome and Simona Chazen Building at 2 Columbus Circle. For information, 212-299-7777 or www.madmuseum.org.
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