site-specific sonic art for the Studios at MASSMoCA
with Katya Popova
During World War II, the site that would become MASSMoCA in North Adams was transformed from Arnold Print Works textile mill into the Sprague Electric Company.
Outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, Sprague was a major research and development center, conducting studies on the nature of electricity and semi-conducting materials. After the war, Sprague’s products were used in the launch systems for Gemini moon missions… From the post-war years to the mid-1980s Sprague produced electrical components for the booming consumer electronics market. - MASSMoCA, “History”
In 1969, an amplifier engineer for the Gemini moon missions, Alan R. Pearlman, founded a synthesizer company in Lexington, Mass. (120 miles east of North Adams). ARP Instruments introduced their 2600 model in 1971: one of the first commercially-available sound synthesizers and made with Sprague “Orange Drop” capacitors.
Orange Drop (2019) is a poetic re-rendering of sounds that have historically inhabited the spaces of this site. Using objects found in North Adams (industrial metal pieces, conveyor belts, and other debris left here in the wake of global capitalism), the two artists construct an array of sonic sculptures in Building 12. The New England textile mill architecture of Building 12 is itself the third agent shaping sound with its vaulted cross wooden beam ceiling and brick.
An ARP 2600 is installed among the sculptures and resonates an ode to archaic technologies and architectures. The artists move through the space and sound the sculptures in harmony.
Live performance and documentation installation 26-28 February 2019. Audio documentation recorded binaurally.
MASSMoCA “History” MASSMoCA.org Accessed 24 February 2019 https://massmoca.org/about/history/
Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco Analog Days Cambridge: Harvard, 2004
Craig R. Waters and Jim Aikin “The Rise and Fall of ARP Instruments” Keyboard Magazine (April 1983)
“Owner’s Manual” The ARP Synthesizer Series 2600 Newton Highlands, MA: Tonus, Inc, 1971
with thanks to Nicholas Whitman, Carl Schmidt, and Carolyn Clayton
Made possible with support from Assets for Artists
installation and performance stills by Derrick Velasquez: