High Rise

Michele Spanghero

Sound is made up of vibrations, or waves and their propagation, which form a perceptible body that constitutes itself within space.

The most common idea of ​​sound corresponds to the concept of ​​sound waves moving in space and forming certain complex regular events. In order to establish a concrete and correct terminology of sound, a distinction between sound as physical acoustics and sound as music needs be drawn. Because sound is differently defined and faceted in both areas. Physical sound has its equivalent in the musical tone and musical sound describes the phenomenal occurrence of different characteristics of sound events. What connects both definitions is the dependence of the surrounding space and its characteristics. Not even a single sound event could spread without the matter of air as a transmitter. On the one hand, the space around us is filled with a certain amount of air, and on the other hand, insofar as it is a trapped architectural space, it is additionally characterized by its materiality and the dimensional relationships of its boundary elements. Everything together determines and enables our perception of specific tonal events and irreversibly burns in a musical form.

The maximum possible speed of sound transmission within a medium depends on its internal structure and its current thermodynamic equilibrium. The temperature and materiality of the carrier medium modulate the transmitted sound and convert it into a characteristic form. The speed of sound, at room temperature, in dry air is relatively slow at 340 m/s, reaches a passable value of 1,480 m/s in water, but is far exceeded in steel at 5900 m/s. Every speed of sound within a specific medium and at the transition into another medium requires a unique transformation of the previous speed and wave characteristics. Conversely, the audible change of the reflected and transformed output signal makes it possible to draw conclusions about the surrounding space, as both are in direct correlation with each other.

Michele Spanghero addresses this phenomenon in his acoustic installation High Rise, which is designed and implemented as a site-specific sound installation, first presented in a former wool factory in Schio (Italy). The factory, with its characteristic architecture, provided the nucleus and the incubator for the rewarding interplay of artistic exploration and the given space. The six floors of the building are represented by six floating aluminum tubes, whose lengths correspond to the height of each floor.

Held up by thin steel cables, suspended from the ceiling, the construction forms a long central horizontal line, which mentally reorganizes the six floors of the factory and references the initial architecture. The pipes contain six sound transducers which emit sound that is directly tuned to the resonant frequencies of the building. These complement the visual perception of the building of Fabbrica Alta with an acoustic level. Together they create a multidimensional stimulus of perception that occurs to be more substantial than its initial phenomena. All elements reinforce each other and create an energetic image of the exhibition space.

The installation has been realised in technical partnership with OMP Engineering and in cooperation with the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.