Shawn Decker – Prairie

 

 

 

 

Prairie functions ostensibly as sound sculpture, which subtly yet distinctly alters the ambiance acoustic experience of the gallery, but also has a substantial presence as a work of physical sculpture. Each of the multitudinous, vertically mounted brass rods contains a vibration motor at the base and a small speaker at its top resulting in the “grass” stems shuddering and swaying as the speakers emit clicking and buzzing sounds, possibly suggesting a relationship between sound and motion. This is all controlled by a microprocessor with patterns generated by simple rules applied to each stem, so that they operate independently, but are also affected by the actions of neighbouring stems. This interplay between structured patterns and chance is modelled after the emergent behaviour of natural systems; thus Prairie‘s ongoing changes mirror that of an eco-system responding to gradual changes in its natural environment. The work epitomises Decker’s ongoing investigations into the complexities of rhythm, small motions, sounds and the dynamic behaviour of natural systems. This piece mimics the rich sound-scape and ecosystems of grasslands with insect sounds, rain, wind and other rhythms of life found within them, while it also incorporates a visual recreation of tall grasses moving in the wind. The interplay between nature and the machine, human intervention and artifice, is complex and multi-layered.

 

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