The exhibition “Cassini’s Dreams” was held at the Venice Biennale. It was an interactive installation that included painting and a virtual reality app. The installation featured an inflatable of Saturn being “read” in real time by a Cassini laser-to-audio system. This produced a rich audio experience, built from raw data and artistic interpretation of the two decades of Cassini’s tour. There she was our virtual eyes and ears on Saturn. As the probe swept past the gas giant it traveled above and below her rings. It swooped down on the moons and flew through the icy plumes to hover above methane oceans. It also zoomed past shepherd moons that guide ring particles in their orbits. Finally, as it it spied on the propeller moons it enables us to see their internal waves.
The Venice Biennale Painting
The paintings are also inspired by the rings of Saturn as they were seen by the Cassini. For this body of work China Blue utilizes the infrared color spectrum. We can not see in this color range but with China Blue’s usage of the palette she makes visible the invisible. She also cites this scientific application which helps researchers see photographic images in high detail.
The Discovery of the Sounds
The discovery of the sounds of Saturn’s rings was created for NASA by China Blue and Dr. Seth Horowitz. This audio became the bases of the sound art album, Cassini’s Dreams created with Lance Massey the creator of the T-Mobile ring tone. Click here to listen to the work.
The Venice Biennale Virtual Reality
The final element, the Virtual Reality app is a wayfinder that can be used in Venice to find the exhibition. It can also be enable those who are not able to attend to see it. Like Cassini’s search for the Saturn, the app enables everyone to personally explore Saturn and her rings with their phone.
This work is supported in part by the NASA/RI Space Consortium and Canada Council of the Arts. It is also supported by The Engine Institute a non-profit organization. The institute is dedicated to promoting artists working at the intersection of art, science and technology.
Lilly Wei, Art Critic says: “Cassini’s Dreams…a remarkable visual arts and sound project that is partly scientific and partly poetic”
Stephanie Jeanjean, Art Historian states: “as China Blue demonstrates…nothing is still nor silent. The void is filled with the sounds of in-commensurable invisible forces that can be heard by those who listen to them.”
Mat Kaplan of The Planetary Society says: The songs are both “beautiful and evocative.”
The album “Cassini’s Dreams” was created from the viewpoint of the NASA‘s spacecraft Cassini. It’s mission was to research Saturn. A track from it was featured in Planetary Radio, Chasing New Horizons! Planetary Radio is a weekly 30-minute radio show that is devoted to space exploration and astronomy. It is hosted and produced by Mat Kaplan and The Planetary Society. In addition, the Planetary Society is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization that promotes the exploration of space.
The Making of “Cassini’s Dreams”
The NASA spaceship Cassini was dedicated to researching Saturn during her flight. We decided to explore her data. It was there that we discovered the sounds that might have been heard from inside the spacecraft. That material became the inspiration for “Cassini’s Dreams.” This album enables us to experience what the spacecraft heard while traveling through Saturn’s rings.
“Negative Ellipse” is a based on the acoustic environment created by a sculpture by Richard Serra. The audio produced is the actual vibrations of the steel of one of his “Ellipse” sculptures combined with ambient acoustics making the resultant sound piece and the entire acoustic space of the room in which it is played the ‘negative space’ of the ellipse.
An interactive light and sound installation
Tokyo Experimental Arts Festival
Tokyo Wondersite, Japan
“8-Bit Cricket” was exhibited in Tokyo Wonder Site’s Experimental Art Festival, October-November 2009. With this work I was interested in mimicing the behavior and sounds of the cricket. Like nature the crickets sing when it is dark and are quiet during the day when it is light. “8-Bit Cricket” functions simularly. It is shown in a darkened room. Each one has its own Led attached to the ‘cricket cage’ to randomly trigger the cricket circuits off, resulting in an intriguing sonic experience that is tuned differently in each room. The video is of an installation in one of two rooms where the work was shown.
This version encourages people to “gig” with the circuits with a flash light.
In 2008 I was the US Representative with “Aqua Alta“ at OPEN XI International Exhibition of Sculpture and Installations held in conjunction with the Architecture Biennale at Isola di San Servolo, Venice, Italy. This work was curated by Edward Rubin a New York based writer and critic.
The sound of Venice is water. Every minute of every day and every night the sound of water is splashing on the stairs, lapping at the doorways and rises in waves as gondolas breeze across it. From the founding of Venice, to the present day, water is the source of transportation, a symbol of romance and the element that made Venice a major maritime power and a significant trading port. Water is also its problem. Global-warming has induced changes to the aquatic environment causing the waters to swell filling the piazzas and buildings and threatening the daily life and culture of Venice.
Listen to the sound piece here.
Aqua Alta is an immersive 5.1 sound experience created using specialized audio equipment to capture the unique sounds of the waters of Venice via the gondolas that glide through them. This work was inspired by the effects global warming have on the environment, both underwater and above.
Types of Recordings used: binaural recordings of the gondolier singing and the ambient sounds, vibrations from the floor of the gondola, sounds in the water recorded with hydrophones, snapping shrimp, dolphin’s whistle, ship noise.
The sound piece was placed in this colonnade that surrounds the 8th century Benedictine monastery on San Servolo.
The sound installation Aqua Alta is a study of Venice’s dependence on and the threat of water. Aqua Alta submerges the listener in the sounds and the effect of the water on Venice. What is heard are the sounds from the water’s edge and underwater recordings, the structural creaks of the gondolas and sounds of water flowing around and under them as they float through the lagoon. Splashes and deep wave sounds of water lapping on the buildings and stairways at the water’s edge, and the sounds of the sea life are also heard. The sound tracks of both above and below the water line were post-processed to create the sense of rising and falling of the sound field, thus mimicking both the natural effects of the tides and, overall, the slow envelopment of the sounds in air by the aquatic acoustics as the waters rise to represent the dangers to Venice of global-warming induced changes to the aquatic environment.
Simultaneously Aqua Alta was exhibited in Chelsea, New York at AC Direct
In 2009 it was again shown in the Mobile Art Project, a touring exhibition that traveled through out Rhode Island.
The Calls, 2006
This is a sound piece is an ode to the 9/11 event and the World Trade Center.
Created in collaboration with Dr. Seth Horowitz
“China Blue…turns the notion of technological advancement into a paradox. “The Calls,” (2006) is a sound piece that centers around the World Trace Center attacks that took place on Septtember 11, 2001. Voices of the control tower dispatchers with the pilots are mixed with dial tones echo range of musical scale that sounds pleasant but eerie. The dial tones were derived from available statistics about the World Trade Center: how tall it was how many people died etc. Voices from the airplanes and control tower can be heard faintly in the background, preserving the fatal last minutes in a shroud of mystery.”
by Jill Conner, Digiscape: Unexplored Terrain, Exhibition Catalog,
Exhibited in Digiscape: Unexplored Terrain at Pace University, NY, 2007
Played in a special 9/11 episode at Unusual Music (Italy) and Radio Broadband by David Riccio, 2015
The Secret Arch, 2007
The Secret Arch is an interactive installation based on the secret arch, an architectural feature located at Grand Central Station, New York. There, when you whisper into one corner of the arch you can be heard clearly on the opposite side.
Users of the Secret Arch were invited to interact with it by recording their passions, fears, phobias or secrets at the arch on site.
This work was exhibited at DamStultrager in Brooklyn, NY and the Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN
“As new media gradually shifts sculpture away from the object and more toward sensory experience, such displacement not only counters the conspicuous consumption oversaturating the contemporary art market, but it also raises the question of whether the very concept of art will gradually move away from the tangible sphere. Despite some slight weaknesses, these exhibitions succeeded in placing new emphasis on architectonics and realigning the boundaries of space with immaterial means.”
Brooklyn Rail, Jill Conner, July 2007
7.1 Sound Installation at the Acoustical Society of America’s conference
Created in collaboration with Dr. Seth Horowitz
Skratch is a 7.1 surround sound installation which was created from a recording of an actual pool game played with friends. The piece utilizes the 7.1 format which has 6 primary speakers that are used to represent the 6 pockets of the pool table. The ball sounds are heard from the appropriate speaker when the ball drops into a pocket. When sitting in the center, the audience can hear the acoustic dynamics of the ball as it wizzes past them combined with the dialogue of the players. An equal emphasis is placed on the conversations and dynamics of the players, which are matched with the sounds of the balls as they hit each other, drop into the pockets and pass under the table. In this work the artist presents the invisibility of human relationships through the immaterial means of sound.
2004 Mikey vs. Fabio
Stereo installation at Interface, Dijon, France
Exhibited during a city wide show of my work in Dijon
This piece is based on a recording of a ping pong game between Mikey & Fabio. The installation of the piece is designed so that speakers are on opposite ends of a room mimicked the location of the players. The sounds of the ball were paned so that the walls became the location of the paddle. When standing in the middle of the room the audience heard the ball whizzing dramatically over head.