Musician Mickey Hart Scores at Bridging Art and Science with Exploratorium
Original Musical Composition to be Performed on “Sonified” Scale Model at
Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Celebration - On Crissy Field Stage
10 pm, May 27, 2012
[caption id="attachment_5899" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Amy Snyder, © Exploratorium, www.exploratorium.edu"][/caption]
Two-time Grammy Winning Artist and Exploratorium Board member, Mickey Hart, is collaborating with an Exploratorium team to celebrate the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on its 75th anniversary. Festivities will take place at San Francisco's Crissy Field for the finale on May 27th, after the fireworks at 10 p.m. Hart will be scoring his tribute and performing his composition live on a dynamic, 23-foot long, stainless steel scale model of the Golden Gate Bridge, built and instrumented by a team of Exploratorium designers and engineers.
Hart will tell you that the Golden Gate Bridge is not simply a bridge. "It is a giant wind-harp. The most famous bridge in America is a musical instrument, which sings its signature song every day, yet its song has never been heard before. Imagine hearing the bridge as intensely as you hear an intimate whisper, a scary scream, an ever-present low-level hum.”
The model was built by Exploratorium engineer David Fleming, and instrumented by sound engineer David Torgersen. Senior Artist and Project Manager Shawn Lani explained that the engineering team chose to use stainless steel chains for the model’s suspension cables “to allow the model to be lively — to exaggerate the motion so as to emphasize the bridge’s vibrational modes” — the swaying back-and-forth, up-and-down, and side-to-side. “Being able to feel the bridge move beneath your fingers augments and enlivens your understanding of the bridge. Mickey is using our model as a totem to evoke something more than just a structure.”
To compose the piece, Hart used data from touch sensors and accelerometers that Exploratorium engineers placed all over the span, and “sonified” the data with the help of Mark Ballora of Penn State, Ben Yonas and Jonah Sharp. “Sonification is the process of converting data into music,” explains Hart. "The Golden Gate Bridge vibrates from its toes (earth, water) to its thighs (pillars of cement and steel), to its torso and crown (air, sky). We have created a musical soundscape based on the real sounds of the bridge. The Exploratorium bridge model, which I like to call Bridget, will be used in our performance to play the extraordinary sounds we have captured.”
The model, made possible by the National Science Foundation, will be installed at the Exploratorium as an outdoor exhibit when the museum moves to its new home at Pier 15 in 2013.
Joining Hart on stage for the performance will be the Mickey Hart Band, which released its latest album, Mysterium Tremendum, in April, where Hart “sonified” the sounds of the universe going all the way back to the big bang, transferring light waves into sound waves.
To see video footage of Hart and the Exploratorium team working on the sonified bridge model, go here.
The 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge is a project of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in collaboration with the National Park Service, Presidio Trust, and the City & County of San Francisco. Anniversary events include the Golden Gate Festival along the San Francisco waterfront on May 27, 2012; and 75 Tributes to the Golden Gate Bridge, a year-long series of public programs by community organizations presented throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in 2012.
For additional information and all public inquiries, please visit: www.goldengatebridge75.org.