While perceptually for us, standing in a fixed position on the turning earth, sunrise is a moment heavy with meaning and optimism. From a point in space, well beyond the surface of the earth, sunrise can be understood more clearly as a continuous event.
The term sunrise is a cherished misnomer from our earliest days explaining the movement of the heavens. A term that separated day from night, and the past from the future. In the modern world, it’s more appropriate to characterize a sunrise as a sonic boom, a cataclysmic event that follows an object racing past the sound barrier.
In this regard tangent attempts to evoke the momentary and continuous crack of dawn.
tangent is an interactive multichannel audio piece designed to play at sunrise every morning. As part of the Burchfield Penney Art Center's Front Yard project, the work interacts with the environment collecting real time weather data that influences various behaviors of the audio piece. In particular temperature, wind direction, and brightness (data from filtered light sensors) are features that shape the sound as it is being played. Sounds are produced in real time as a short series of impulses fed into a large reverb. The reverberation is then filtered through various spectral techniques mapped to the environmental parameters mentioned above. The sound is self-monitored so that a new impulse is triggered only after the reverberation from the previous impulse has subsided.
After the first impulse which plays at sunrise in Buffalo, each successive pulse marks another instance (at a different location) when the sun is rising.
The Front Yard project was recently highlighted on the cycling74 website.
Below is an example of a possible realization of tangent.