One of Harry Bertoia's "sonambient" sound sculptures sits on display at Bowling Green State University. However, its resonant tines remain sonically isolated in a courtyard outside the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery lobby. This installation imagines that the sculpture has sonic “roots” extending through the window. As the roots creep further into the lobby, a branching generative system stretches recordings of the sculpture in time and pitch.
Process (each lasting from ~30 seconds to 6 minutes):
An audio file is compiled from three recordings of the sculpture that have variable length, most lasting less than 10 seconds (sometimes this can result in long or short "sources").
A "depth" is chosen, that is, how many times the iterative process branches.
A path down the “roots” is devised: for each level of the root system, there is a branch to either the left or right, recording a new manipulated version of the original sound.
If the path branches left, the recording is stretched in time (without affecting pitch); if it branches right it is stretched in pitch (without affecting its length).
So if a path is chosen that branches all the way to the right, the pitch of the final version will be much lower but it will still be the same speed as the original; conversely, if the process branches all the way to the left, it will be the same pitch as the original but very slow.
Each level manipulates the sound played in the level just before it (a la Alvin Lucier’s “I am sitting in a room”). Two iterations of the process with an equal depth might have an equal number of branches to the right and left, but swapping directions at different levels could produce a very different final iteration.
Though each process follows the same "form," there is infinite variation in the sonic result.
The final drone that fades in is created from dynamically cross-fading 4 manipulated versions of a single recording of the tines’ resonance.
Over the course of each process, the original recording (which only appears in the front two speakers by the window) fades away, and the manipulated playback moves to the back two speakers, to augment the spatial extension analogy...like roots of the sculpture and its tree companion pushing through the ground into the lobby gallery.