Proposal: "Airliner"
Sound Sculpture Installation for the Lab

I propose to build a life-size airplane in the Lab, loosely in the form of an old-style airliner.


The sculpture will be made from bamboo. It will be approximately 26 ft. long with a 30 ft. wingspan. The bamboo struts will be held in place by plywood forms. It will be hung at a dramatic angle, with one wing tip three feet from the floor, the other well out of a visitor's reach. As visitors move around the "Airliner", lights will flash, propellers will spin, and the craft will generate a variety of loud sounds.

The airplane will have seven motion sensors, seven colored lights, seven sound-generating elements using electric motors and seven contact microphones.

Each motion sensor will control one of the sound-generating elements and one of the colored lights. Two motion sensors will be mounted on each wing, two on the tail, and one on the nose. As viewers/listeners move around the aircraft, they will trip the motion sensors and trigger a light and a sound element. If no one is present, or no one is moving, the aircraft will become dark and fall silent within a few seconds. If many people are present, the aircraft will be loud and bright.

The sounds produced by each element will be modulated by a mixing board, then amplified, and broadcast from four speakers; one in each corner of the room. The sounds will be a variety of mechanically produced sounds, for example: spinning propellers striking different materials and different lengths of string. The sound should be fairly loud for the piece to be effective, but the levels can be easily controlled for special events.

The piece will be hung from the ceiling and overhead members by many cables. While quite large, the piece will not be very heavy, and there will be no danger of it falling if it is well secured.

Installation may take as long as two weeks. Most elements will be prefabricated in my studio, but they will need to be assembled and fine-tuned at the Lab.

The previous similar pieces I have shown have been very successful. They have proved to be durable and work well on the technical level. They have been popular with the audience, sparking many comments and conversations, and, for the most part, have been big fun for everyone involved.


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