The program assigned to me for my final studio project was a music room. Before programs were assigned, I had been exploring the various forms and shapes I could achieve through manipulation of wax-following the theme of balancing control and lack of control, and allowing the material to dictate its own shape. When I was tasked with the creation of a music room, it seemed appropriate to begin the process by exploring the acoustic properties of the wax I was working with. My initial experiment was a sound tunnel made out of wax and chicken wire mesh. By placing a speaker at one end of this tube and a microphone at the other end, I was able to record and measure the distortion/loss of intensity in the sounds played at various distances from the speaker. From this experiment, I determined that the wax tubing I had conceptualized was very efficient in transporting sound, with little distortion. With this is mind, I began to think of my music room as more of a system, potentially spanning many different spaces-carrying music or sound from one isolated area to another.
My conceptual plans at this point in my exploration were of a central area within the architecture building where music was produced, that was then carried through walls and floors through this system of wax tubing to areas of the building that the music would not normally reach. Initially I was focused on the idea of transporting sound out of an isolated space into many others, but as I refined my idea I became more interested in drawing sound into a single space from multiple locations. I imagined an isolated space, devoid of interference from the exterior, in which many sounds were layered over each other. It occurred to me that the architecture building itself acted as something of a musical instrument. At any time of day, a plethora of activities are taking place in various locations throughout the building. By drawing all of the sounds produced in these spaces together, one creates an audio layout of the building, and everything that occurs within it. By designing the tubing systems intended to carry this sound, one controls the potential range of sounds heard in this space; but one cannot predict what activities will be occurring at what time, or how the various sounds will layer over one another. The title I chose for this project was “Cacophony” which describes a discordant contrast of sounds; essentially, an unpredictable, chaotic layering of various sounds or instruments.
The past four months of studio work have been an extremely eye opening experience for me. I feel confident stating that I have overcome many obstacles in my conceptual and realized processes; I have learnt to identify and overcome many of my academic and intellectual weaknesses. One of the most difficult challenges I have faced in this past semester was the act of relinquishing intellectual control over my projects-given that the main theme of my material exploration has been “the balance of control/lack of control” this was a very important part of my exploratory process. It was quite difficult for me to allow my project to develop organically; I felt the need to create a detailed, intellectual concept and plan of my project/program before I began to explore it. This issue presented itself primarily in my earlier material explorations, when I was first using wax as a medium. I was attempting to realize preconceived forms with this material, without any experimentally gained knowledge of it, and the inevitable failure of these attempts was frustrating. It was difficult for me to allow the material i was working with to dictate its own form, and it took me quite some time to achieve the correct synergy between my own intellectual whims and the nature of the medium itself. In my resolved final project, the lack of control was found in the layering of various levels of sound; I attempted to create an audible landscape that was controlled by the whims of the building as opposed to the people that occupied it. While I do not consider my final product perfect by any means, I am happy with the level of resolution I have achieved with this project.