Living Systems

Opening on Saturday, January 19th at 3 pm
  • Preston Beebe
From January 19th to March 9th, 2019

Living Systems

Preston Beebe

In the physical world, both living and non-living phenomena are receivers, storehouses and transformers of energy. Living Systems is such an occurrence; an atmosphere of light and sound that is controlled and transformed by the environment energy creates, and the viewer’s gravity holds it in place at its centre.

Composer and sound artist Preston Beebe has been researching and developing new ways to interact with sound using technology. Through collaborative and solo projects, he has pushed the traditional boundaries of instruments, yet it is his fascination with Nature’s energy flow that defines his artistic approach to Living Systems. This is an evolving installation that has been constructed over time, through composition, as well as by way of interactions with the environment. Living Systems builds unexpected connections between sound and the principles with which ecosystems are organized.

For the opening of the exhibit, Beebe performs sound in the space and manipulates multiple feedback loops to create harmony and dissonance. For the duration of the installation, the multichannel feedback network will follow the patterns that this founding performance establishes. At the same time, various sensors and microphones will capture sounds from the environment and generate identical and unique iterations, as well as resonant light. For Living Systems, Beebe debuts the TriWave, a new device for musical expression designed specifically for this large-scale immersive installation created in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Ian Hattwick. These highly sensitive devices respond to the sounds present in the gallery, causing changes in the equilibrium of the installation.

In a room of near-total darkness, a naturalistic sculpture transmutes in real time, like a cumulus cloud. Sounds resonating throughout the space are amplified on the surfaces of the sculpture, transforming it into a large multichannel mouthpiece. A harmonium creates a drone of major and minor cluster chords that resonate within the sound field in the gallery, interacting with the sculpture and causing a rupture in the feedback loop. These chords construct a rich palette of frequencies from which a diverse set of harmonic beats, chords and rhythms form. As viewers walk around the sculpture, their perception is altered as the sonic and visual landscape shifts around them.

Energy is the unifying force of Living Systems. Whether visitors remain still and listen, or move throughout the space, questions will arise about their relationship with this responsive and evolving system. As each visitor observes the effects of his/her actions, as well as the effects of those who came before them, the gallery becomes an ecosystem that thrives on energy to grow and develop, but could just as easily be deconstructed, ruptured or silenced.

Text by Meaghan Thurston

Biography of the artist :

Preston Beebe is a composer, percussionist and sound artist who uses technology at the forefront of his work. Researching and creating new ways to interact with sound using electronics and extended techniques, and through collaborative and solo projects, he pushes the traditional boundaries of sound creation. His artistic approach embraces audio feature extraction, organic processes, and the exploration of the interactions of microscopic and invisible elements in space and time. His fascination with sound’s energy combined with feedback drives his artistic approach to site-specific installations and performances. He holds a Master of Music Composition from McGill University and a Bachelor of Music Composition, Electronic Music, and Percussion Performance from the University of South Florida. He is the co-founder of Whim Ensemble together with Ofer Pelz and has released albums on Ambiances Magnétiques and Kohlenstoff Records. His work has been performed in France—at the Centre Pompidou—, as well as in Spain, England, Greece, Canada, and the USA.

Biography of the author :

Meaghan Thurston is a communications specialist with a passion for the arts and natural curiosity for science and research. Her educational background in anthropology, world religions and cultural studies has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. For a variety of clients, she renders abstract ideas and technical jargon into language that everyone can appreciate.