The classic Airstream trailer looks fast, even when it’s standing still. Architect Edward Noonan amplified this effect when he installed an Airstream trailer on the roof of the building at 1807 W. Sunnyside Ave., because he “didn’t want to haul an Airstream across the country to go do things.” (It’s officially named the Gentle Annie Stafford Pavilion and Conference Center.)
Only visible to passing trains, this stationary trailer embodies Noonan’s statement: you don’t have to go in order to do. To people sitting idly on the passing trains, they feel like the stationary ones, with the world—and the Airstream— slipping past them.
This piece gives florid flurries and jazzy lines to low instruments to reflect the juxtaposition of smooth lines and heavy materials in the Airstream. The electronic sounds are derived from audiovisual source recordings from the site. All sounds you hear are “carved” from the source recordings of trains passing the building, and melodic and harmonic contours are shaped by video material taken from the trains as they pass the trailer.
The culminating quirky jazzy tune is a transcription of the safety message heard on one of the trains. Its text harkens back to Noonan’s impulse to do something out of the ordinary, his stories of how it confused people and frustrated authorities, and ultimately allowed him to take the trailer where he really wanted to go. The message encourages you to “[be] observant of your surroundings” and “report any suspicious behavior or items,” with the key slogan, “If you see something, say something.” While on the surface it raises suspicion of anything nonconformist, you could also take as encouragement to watch for the quirks of life like the Airstream as you pass by, maybe go inside and follow where you mind wants to go, see what you see in your mind’s eye, and share it with the world.
Kelly Kennedy, “An Airstream on a Roof?” Chicago Tribune, August 27, 2005, updated August 30, 2005, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-08-27/news/0508270054_1_airstream-roof-train
The melody was taken from the recorded safety message played on the passing train: Continue reading
Research Embodied, a site-specific intermedia performance created for the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library with designer Autum Casey was selected as a finalist from 70 international submissions, performed on October 19, 2011, and awarded third prize in the Music in Architecture—Architecture in Music symposium in Austin, Texas.
Co-created with designer Autum Casey, Research Embodied is an intermedia performance designed for the Great Hall of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library with musicians performing with amplified books and QWERTY keyboard, footsteps, and movement (in front of a camera-triggered synthesized carillon), along with two large video projections and five actors.
Acoustically, we highlight how the Great Hall amplifies presence in the space. The reverberation preserves instants in time, mirroring the function of a library. Visually, we merge the view of the archives with a glimpse of their contents. Functionally, we scripted and made music form the activities of participants in the Great Hall and scholars in the stacks. Conceptually, we call attention to the union and separation of the public and scholars and the challenges of moderated access to information.
Research Embodied, a site-specific intermedia performance and installation created for the Great Hall of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum (Austin, Texas) was awarded Third Prize in the Music in Architecture—Architecture in Music International Symposium It was one of five finalists chosen from 74 entries (6.8% acceptance rate), from among international and Ivy League competitors. And it was performed by our students!