[June 30 – Aug 20] Spindrifter by Bob Bielecki and David Behrman

A collaborative installation by Bob Bielecki and David Behrman created for Harvestworks’ summer venue on Governors Island. This site-specific work brings together the composer and pioneer of new music David Behrman and the creative sound technologist and inventor Bob Bielecki.

June 30 – Aug 20, 2023

Open to the Public 11 – 5 pm Fri, Sat and Sun

Artist Day: Saturday July 8, 2023

Location: Harvestworks Art and Technology Program Building 10a, Nolan Park, Governors Island

Bob’a 48-channel microphone array recording the ocean at Montauk

“Spindrifter” combines Bob Bielecki’s original recordings of natural sounds from his ‘Sonic Mural Collection’ with a number of passages from David Behrman’s music pieces spanning the period from the 1960’s to the 2020’s. Chosen because of their symbiotic relationships to Bob’s recordings, David’s passages are enhanced by phasing adjustments within Bob’s unique Sonic Mural playback system.   

“Spindrifter” makes use of a high resolution audio recording and playback system developed by Bob Bielecki. The system consists of a 48-channel microphone array paired with a multichannel playback system with matching characteristics.  The system captures the acoustic properties of sounds in great detail, and directs those sounds outward into the listening space in a manner which is more akin to holography than conventional sound recording.   The sounds are projected onto the walls of the room and the resulting reflections create what Bob refers to as  ‘Sonic Murals’.  The combined reflections envelop the listener with the experience of being outdoors, with natural sound all around.

The “Spindrifter” audio sessions are just under one hour in duration, repeating at the top of each hour. Brief pauses separate each piece from the next one.

00:00 “Montauk Bay” with JJ90
18:45 “Spring Peepers 1” with Runthrough
26:30 “The Ocean at Montauk” with Figure in a Clearing

37:00 “Spring Peepers 2” with Runthrough
44:30 “Tree Frogs” with ViewFinder

Notes from David Behrman

  • On Montauk Bay with JJ90
    was part of an audio / video gift to Jasper Johns on his 90th birthday, made by former members of the Cunningham Dance Company in May 2020. My contribution to that project consisted of 17 phrases, most of them brief, separated by long pauses. That structure turned out to fit Bob’s Montauk Bay recording well. When I listened to Bob’s “Montauk Bay” recording I remembered an experience I had once as a child — a family cruise on a rented schooner on Long Island Sound. I recalled the moment when, after the boat left the harbor using its noisy motor, we would raise the sails and cut the motor. Then we would be immersed in the beautiful natural sound of moving water and wind, as the schooner made its way under sail only. 
  • On Spring Peepers 1 with Runthrough
    Runthrough was first made in 1967 for performances by the Sonic Arts Union. The piece changed during succeeding decades, arriving at its current form in 2016. When Bob and I tried feeding the current digital version into his system, we found that its high frequency sustained, swooping modulated pitches worked well. Using techniques that I barely understand, Bob gives his system an ability to adjust the phasing relationships of its many loudspeakers. The sounds of Runthrough can dart around the room, bouncing off the walls and ceilings, sometimes appearing to be in back of your head, sometimes diving into your left ear and leaping out from the right one. Mixing them together with his Spring Peepers 1 and 2  recordings created a kind of sci-fi amalgam of human and amphibian sound worlds.
  • On The Ocean at Montauk with Figure in a Clearing
  • Figure in a Clearing was made and recorded for Lovely Music Records in 1977. The cello performance was by David Gibson. Figure’s  slowly-moving, intense, non-vibrato cello playing of few pitches, together with its 32 oscillators, immerses the cello in the mighty ocean waves of Bob’s “Ocean at Montauk” recording.
  • On Tree Frogs with ViewFinder
  • ViewFinder originated in 1972. Like Runthrough, it developed as the years went by, arriving at its current form in 2021. A light dusting of ViewFinder’s wispy curlicues mixes well with the voices of the Tree Frogs, those eager little creatures in the woods.

Thanks to Terri Hanlon and Daniel Fishkin

Notes from Bob Bielecki

 “Montauk Bay & “The Ocean at Montauk” were recorded in Montauk, NY with assistance from Connie Kieltyka and Nick Kieltyka
“Peepers” & “Treefrogs” were recorded in Olivebridge, NY with assistance from Connie Kieltyka.

Artist Bios:

Bob Bielecki is a sound designer, specializing in the creative use of technology in the electronic arts; additional expertise as audio engineer, exhibition designer, electrical engineer, software developer, and artist/collaborator. Since the mid-1970’s Bob has worked with many artists including Laurie Anderson, La Monte Young, Annea Lockwood, Steven Vitiello, and others on work that has included the creation of unique instruments and interfaces used in performance installations.. Bob has received grants from Andy Warhol Foundation and New York State Council on the Arts and has taught at Bard College since 1997.

David Behrman has been active as a composer and artist since the 1960s. Over the years he has made sound and multimedia installations for gallery spaces as well as musical compositions for performance in concerts. Many of his works feature flexible structures and a use of technology in personal ways; they rely on interactive real-time relationships with imaginative performers. Working at Columbia Records in the late Sixties, Behrman produced many of the “Music of Our Time” series of new music recordings. Together with Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma, he founded the Sonic Arts Union in 1966. He had a long association with the Cunningham Dance Company. Long Throw, Unforeseen Events, My Dear Siegfried, Leapday Night, On the Other Ocean, Interspecies Smalltalk, Open Space with Brass and ViewFinder are among Behrman’s works for soloists and small ensembles. His works have been recorded on Lovely Music, Alga Marghen, XI, Black Truffle and other labels. Black Truffle recently released a long-neglected 1981 collaboration, She’s More Wild, with Terri Hanlon, Fern Friedman and Paul DeMarinis.

A Harvestworks Sponsored Projects funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts in partnership with the Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

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