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John Luther Adams' 'The Wind Garden' Challenges Expectations On What Art Is

August 8, 2017 1:31 p.m.

John Luther Adams' 'The Wind Garden' Challenges Expectations On What Art Is

GUESTS:

John Luther Adams, composer/artist, The Wind Garden

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Related Story: John Luther Adams' 'The Wind Garden' Challenges Expectations On What Art Is

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

WE ARE IN THE WIND GARDEN, A SMALL STAND OF EUCALYPT HISTORIES. WHAT I AM TOLD IS CALLED THE THEATER DISTRICT, AT THE CAMPUS OF UCSD.

WHAT APPEALED TO YOU ABOUT PICKING THE SPACE?

I DON'T REMEMBER HOW MANY YEARS AGO BUT I WANT TO SAY 7-8 YEARS AGO, I HEARD FROM MARY, THE CURATOR AND VISION LATER BEHIND THE STEWART COLLECTION. SHE ASKED IF I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN CREATE -- CREATING A NEW PIECE. I SAID YES AND I CAME DOWN FOR A VISIT FOR MY FIRST OF NOW UNCOUNTABLE VISITS. OVER THE YEARS, MARY AND MATTHEW GREGOIRE AND MYSELF LOOKED AT A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT SITES AROUND THE CAMPUS. INCLUDING SEVERAL SMALLER SITES HERE IN THE THEATER DISTRICT. I SETTLED ON THIS ONE, THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT THESE TREES ON THE SITE, THIS LOVELY VIEW OF THE PACIFIC AND THE WIND WHEN IT COMES UP EVERY AFTERNOON AND PASSES THROUGH, THAT APPEALED TO ME. THE NEIGHBORHOOD WAS ALSO RECEPTIVE, THAT IS TO SAY THE PEOPLE WHO WORK HERE IN THESE 33 YEARS. THEY WERE SUPPORTIVE AND SEEM TO GET IT AND EMBRACE THE IDEA THAT THIS WOULD BECOME PART OF THEIR COMMUNITY. SO HERE WE ARE.

EXPLAINED TO ME WHAT THE CONCEPT -- EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT THE CONCEPT WAS?

THIS IS A COMPLEX PROJECT, WITH A LOT OF TECHNOLOGY BEHIND IT, THERE ARE COMPUTERS, AMPLIFIERS, LOUDSPEAKERS AND SUBWOOFER SPEAKERS, BURIED CABLES, WIND SENSORS, LOCAL AREA NETWORKS, BENCHES, DECOMPOSED GRAVEL PATHS, LANDSCAPING. ALL THIS, AND YET I HOPE WHEN YOU COME AND EXPERIENCE THIS ALL THAT WILL BE INVISIBLE. IT WILL JUST BE YOU LISTENING IN THIS PLACE. IN A WAY, I WANT ALL THE WORK TO DISAPPEAR. THE FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPT OF THE PEACE IS A PLACE, A GARDEN WHERE WE CAN SIT AND SLOW DOWN AND LISTEN TO WHERE WE ARE. AND IN THIS CASE, THIS BEAUTIFUL LITTLE GROVE OF EUCALYPTUS OVERLOOKING THE PACIFIC. YOU MIGHT LOOK AT THIS AS CREATING A BIG WIND HARP THAT YOU CAN WALK THROUGH, BE INSIDE OF, YOU CAN SIT AND SETTLE IN INSIDE THIS BIG INSTRUMENT AND HEAR THE MUSIC OF THESE TREES AS THEY DANCE IN THE WIND.

WE ARE ACTUALLY HEARING A LITTLE BIT OF THE SOUNDSCAPE IT IS CREATING.

THIS IS WHAT WE THINK IT SOUNDS LIKE, AT THIS POINT IN THE PROCESS OF DISCOVERY.

TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT KIND OF SOUND ELEMENTS PEOPLE ARE HEARING, DOES THE WIND ITSELF CREATE SOME OF THE MUSIC, IS THERE MUSIC YOU COMPOSE PART OF THIS?

I AM A COMPOSER AND EVEN WHEN I DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS, IT'S MORE OF A SCULPTURAL PROJECT. I STILL THINK LIKE A COMPOSER. THAT IS JUST HOW AND WHAT I DO, WHAT I'VE DONE ALL MY LIFE AND HOW I UNDERSTAND THE WORLD. THIS IS A MUSICAL COMPOSITION IN THE FORM OF A GARDEN. EVERYTHING IS COMPOSED, BUT IT IS NOT PLAYED BY HUMAN MUSICIANS, IT IS PLAYED BY THE LAND AND IT'S NOT HEARD INSIDE OF THE CONCERT HALL, IT IS OUTSIDE IN THE REAL WORLD. SO, WE CAN TAKE THE SAME SOUNDS, THESE LOUDSPEAKERS AND PUT IT INDOORS IN A CHURCH OR SOMEPLACE OF EQUAL VOLUME AND IT WOULD SOUND VERY DIFFERENT. HERE WE HAVE NOT ONLY THE SOUNDS OF THE TRAFFIC OUT THERE, HUMAN VOICES ON THE PERIPHERY OF THE GARDEN, BUT WE ALSO HAVE THE WIND ITSELF, THE LEAVES MOVING IN THE TREES, AND OUR LOUDSPEAKERS ARE MOUNTED ON BRANCHES OF THESE TREES. SO, THEY ACTUALLY MOVE. IF YOU MIGHT IMAGINE THE SPEAKERS AS SINGERS OR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, AS THEY SANG, AS THEY PLAY THEY ARE MOVING WHICH DOES BEAUTIFUL THINGS TO ANIMATE THE SOUND.

ANY TIME YOU COME THROUGH THIS, IT WILL BE DIFFERENT.

IT IS ALWAYS DIFFERENT, THERE ARE NO -- THIS PIECE WILL NEVER LITERALLY REPEAT ITSELF. THERE ARE CYCLES WITHIN IT, BUT IT IS INEXTRICABLY TIED TO THE REAL WORLD BECAUSE IT EXISTS IN THE REAL WORLD AND BECAUSE IT IS CONTROLLED BY WIND, THE MOVEMENT OF THESE TREES. IN REAL-TIME, IN THE REAL WORLD. ALTHOUGH IT RECYCLES AND FOLLOWS THE MOVEMENTS OF THE SUN, THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, THE SEASONS, THIS TIME ON THE STATE WILL SOUND DIFFERENT -- DATE WILL SOUND DIFFERENT THAN THIS TIME, THIS DATE NEXT YEAR.

SO, YOUR HOPE IS, THE WORK YOU HAVE PUT IN. IS THERE THE CHANCE THAT PEOPLE COMING THROUGH HERE MAY NOT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WHAT THEY ARE WALKING THROUGH IS A PIECE OF ART?

ABSOLUTELY, WE WANT TO BE ON THE THRESHOLD OF PERCEPTION. ESPECIALLY SOMEONE WALKING BY ON THE OUTSIDE, GOING FROM ONE APPOINTMENT TO THE NEXT IN A HURRY, MAY NOT OR MAY REGISTER THEY HEARD SOMETHING BUT KEEP GOING. ANOTHER PERSON MAY JUST BE MORE RECEPTIVE TO THE MOMENT, AND MAKE IT DRAWN AND. THAT WOULD BE A LOVELY THING. THE ACCIDENTAL PASSERBY, THE DISCOVERY OF THIS PLACE. WHAT A WONDERFUL THING. BUT IT'S NOT A STATEMENT, IT'S AN INVITATION TO LISTEN. SO, IT REQUIRES YOUR ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT AND YOUR WILLINGNESS TO PAY ATTENTION. IT'S ABOUT WHERE WE ARE, IT'S ABOUT THE NEVER-ENDING MUSIC OF THE WORLD, AND HEARING MORE BROADLY AND DEEPLY ABOUT WHERE WE ARE AND HOW WE FIT INTO THE WORLD. BUT, I THINK IT'S ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THAT SOMEONE MIGHT WALK BY THIS PIECE AND NOT REGISTER. I THINK WALKING THROUGH, YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE DISTRACTED NOT TO NOTICE. I WANTED TO BE ON THAT THRESHOLD, IT'S A COUNTERPOINT BETWEEN THE COMPOSED PIECE AND THE MUSIC OF THE WORLD.

THE WIND GARDEN IS THE 19th PUBLIC ART WORK OF THE STEWART COLLECTION. YOU JUST HEARD BETH, AMANDO SPEAK WITH JON LUTHER ADAMS ABOUT HIS IMMERSIVE ART EXHIBIT. THE WIND GARDEN IS LOCATED IN A GROWTH WEST OF THE THEATER, AND IS OPEN 24 SEVEN.