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The Wave Organ is a wave-activated sound sculpture located at the end
of a jetty in the San Francisco Bay. It was created by artist Peter Richards
and master stonemason George Gonzalez in 1986.
The installation is an unlikely sight: a collection of curbstones and
cemetery stones that appear in the Bay like an ancient ruin or a strange
dream. In this unusual place of discovery and contemplation, the musical
phenomenon is only part of the point.
In this audio slideshow, Peter Richards, now a senior artist at the
Exploratorium, shares his inspiration for creating this piece and explores its
function as a theater in which many different kinds of human experiences
Among the highlights of our Geometry Playground event were gravity-defying performances by four aerial artists from TrapezeWorld. A highlight of this After Dark evening was Thee Oh Sees, one of the Bay Area’s best underground bands, who created a playful aural disorientation while playing in front of “visual music” by the late experimental filmmaker and musicologist Harry Smith.
In this gem from 1990, we get a brief peek into the flourishing mind of German-born composer/sculptor Trimpin, a MacArthur "genius" award winner and the subject of a recent feature documentary. He chronicles his unique adventures through sound and music making, takes audience questions, and stages modified versions of his musical installations in front of the live audience. Exploratorium staff member Earl Stirling demonstrates the amazing "Pyrograph", an artwork refined over four years. Like a fiery version of the museum’s classic Drawing Board, Stirling’s "Pyrograph" swings a pendulum over a sandy cauldron, tracing out oscillating patterns in colorful fire. This mesmerizing piece evokes both the Foucault pendulum and Dante’s Inferno. This After Dark event featured a special installation of the Cubatron by Bay Area artist and engineer Mark Lottor. A visually stunning favorite of music and art festival audiences, the Cubatron is a 3–D light sculpture made from 8–x–8-foot modular cubes, each containing 1,000 individually programmable RGB LEDs. Viewed from any direction—even underneath—the Cubatron’s thousands of programmed pixels paint exquisite arrays of color that cascade in spectacularly dynamic patterns. Have you ever wondered exactly what clouds are made of, or what the difference is between a cumulus and lenticular cloud? Clouds are an ever-present, ever-changing part of our natural landscape. They come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, and capture our imagination with their endless permutations. Join Exploratorium Senior Scientist Paul Doherty for a live Webcast about cloud physics. Paul will discuss the basic makeup of clouds, and explore some of the aspects that make them such a rich part of our daily lives.
Ken Murphy, creator of A History of the Sky— a time-lapse visualization that will span an entire year—talks about his project during the After Dark event, Resolution.
Join A, K. C. Cole, author of Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the World He Made Up, in conversation with Exploratorium Director Dr. Dennis Bartels, eminent San Francisco Chronicle science writer David Perlman, Cinema Arts Director Liz Keim, and Exploratorium physicist Thomas Humphrey. A question-and-answer session followed the panel discussion.
Produced by Thorne Films, this very early 1972 film details some of the history and thought that went into the creation of the Exploratorium as told by its founding director, Frank Oppenheimer.