Speed of Shadow

Materials: five projectors, laser-cut plywood, tortoise shell, horse hair, stardust

Digital Mediums: photography, adobe illustrator, adobe animate

Shadows are extensions of sentimentalism, the combination of nostalgia and emotions derived from objects in their environments which recall to the same environment during a specific time. The interdisciplinary orchestra Speed of Shadow represents a harmonious display of planetary light reactivating historical musical instruments, the development of which, each planet holds as memory in light.

In the narrative central to this installation, the five celestial bodies known in antiquity ̶ understood as energies responsible for different aspects of life ̶ hold memories in their light. Records held in planetary light relate to the influence that the celestial asters once exerted on musicians who first played historical musical instruments: the mandolin, the gaida, the harp, turn tables and the lyre.

Light sends its potential to gain potence in shadow. The planets send their light and in it records of their influence to exist at the state of darkness, to gain potence and embody memories of music through explicit expression found in forms of shadow. Planetary light dances on plywood stage-sets of instruments with shadows and in so doing, reactivates them.

In this installation, digitized shadows dance in silent and ephemeral visualization of sound. Their movements are parts of homages to the memories of the sounds of historical musical instruments. These memories refer to the time and place of development of the instruments and to the first interpretations of music played on them.

The instrumental components of this orchestra are sculptures that function as stage sets for shadow projections. Shadow projections of photographed objects and projected animations of light movement create a visual representation of the shadows that are cast on the instruments when played according to the mechanical workings of each instrument. These pieces, consisting of stage sets each with their own corresponding digital projections are titled Moon Strings, Sun Skirl, Maneros, Venus Sound and Hermes Tuning.

Moon Strings

During the 13th century, the golden age of Naples, the Neapolitan mandolin bifurcated from the Milanese version of the stringed instrument. In the central narrative to the theatrical piece Moon Strings, the mandolin returns to an esthetically symbolist plywood stage set for the viewer, from the late gothic period, through the intervention of the Moon, with its sound represented as shadows of strings and of a musician’s hand on the fretboard of the stage set. The Moon visits the instrument through the window of a tower in Naples each night of a twenty-eight-day lunar cycle, playing the instrument by illuminating note-points on the strings with its waxing light until it is a full moon.

Eight mandolin strings covered in time’s concealing white plaster contain the instrument’s sound − sound that has been frozen for centuries at John Cage’s silent temperature. These muted mandolin strings are puppets used to cast the conceptually lunar shadows that are projected onto the plywood stage set.

Sun Skirl

This stage set is based on the ancient Greek pastoral gaida, which is depicted in medieval art with conical chanter and drones. In the narrative central to Sun Skirl, the Sun rises behind a stage set representing a partial gaida to affirm its solar presence by completing the instrument with its rays and playing it with sunlight.

In the piece Sun Skirl, rays in arc formation appear behind a plywood gaida bag equipped with only a conical blowpipe and then shift, turning the arc until two elongated conical rays fit into place as the chanter and drone at the gaida’s stocks, which are defined with false gold leaf − gold is the metal equivalent in alchemy to the Sun. The chanter and drone vibrate in place for a minute as the flea hole on the chanter appears, as if uncovered by the index finger of the pastoral musician’s left hand.

Mars Sound: Maneros

The poem Maneros, written along a series of wall posters, describes the central narrative to the stage set and animation comprising the intermedial piece Mars Sound. In this piece, Sekhmet is sending a plague of moths to land on the note points of an Old Kingdom harp, to play the hymn Maneros.

In this installation, the harp is a plywood stage set, up to which an animation of moths fly as a plague to strike the notes to the hymn Maneros.

Sekhmet, the ancient Egyptian goddess responsible for immunization and biological weapons and the cat-headed goddess Bastet conceptually bifurcated from one ancient deity. In Mars Sound, the soul or Ba of Astet echoes in Sekhmet’s insect-aim as she plays an Old Kingdom harp to foreshadow common defeat, from mass death in conflict by sending a plague of moths on one of her arrows to play the hymn Maneros on the harp’s strings. Sekhmet is playing an ancient hymn, an activity more typical of her original proximity to Bastet, to announce loss on a mass scale.

The first Egyptian hymn, Maneros was composed and sung at the time of the premature death of Maneros, a prince who would have succeeded Min, legendized as the first Egyptian king. This hymn typifies the early departure of spring. In the narrative context central to the piece Mars Sound, this hymn signals that Sekhmet is announcing mass death in war. In playing Maneros, the insects are harbingers for Sekhmet’s message foreshadowing the loss of young lives on a mass scale, in warfare for which this goddess was responsible.

Venus Mixing

In the narrative for Venus Mixing, the light of Hesperus dances on a copper mixing table to generate memories from night clubs.

In the piece Venus Mixing, green light from the evening star Hesperus lands in wave-like formations on a copper electronic music table, mimicking music mixed by a dj for any onlookers for whom the projected display of Venusian light on the mixing table stage set is reminiscent of an evening of dancing.

Hermes Tuning

In the sculptural piece Hermes Tuning, a projection of the blue light from an i-phone screen illuminates the black, red and purple strings of a pink-toned tortoise shell lyre at their tops, as is tunning the instrument with a bouncing motion. This resemblance of light tunning the instrument recalls memories from the cave on Mount Cyllene: the place of invention of the lyre.

Hermes was the inventor of the lyre, the light of an i-phone that dances at the tops of the strings of a stage set to the likeness of the original instrument is the presence of the messenger of the gods. The light from the i-phone screen brings the viewer messages on the invention of the original instrument from Cyllene.