Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


Sounding Circle by Jason Charney
  • Sounding Circle by Jason Charney
  • 19-Jul-2012 - 30-Sep-2012
  • Gallery 305, INcube Studio, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

Sounding Circle is an interactive audio installation: a wishing well, an icebreaker, and a participatory musical machine.

When participants enter its space, they are presented with a written prompt that is projected on the wall in front of them. Participants are encouraged to respond thoughtfully to the prompt, speaking into a microphone. Their recorded answer echoes around them, becoming increasingly manipulated by dynamic programmed transformations. The sounds expand in concentric circles, like the ripples on the surface of water when a coin is tossed in.

Sounding Circle may record participants’ responses, and later replay them unprocessed while users listen to their own transformed recordings. Someone may hear a stranger explain their life philosophy while they listen to their own description of the ideal pizza.

Anyone can submit new prompts to the installation by tweeting with the hashtag #soundingcircle. Their prompts will be stored and displayed alongside their Twitter username, so future participants can respond to them.

Sounding Circle is meant to foster dialogue and reflection. By hearing their own words repeated and changed, participants consider their responses closely as their voices become less a vehicle for content and more a generator of music. As they stand and listen in the Circle, they connect with others who have also wandered into its space.

This installation takes place in the Spencer Museum’s experimental INcube Studio located on the main floor (third floor) next to the Print Room.

Jason Charney (’12 BM Music Composition/Theory) is a composer for acoustic and electronic media. He will begin a master’s degree in composition and computer music at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University in Fall 2012. He is the inaugural recipient of the 2011 Jack and Lavon Brosseau Creativity Award for his project Sounding Circle.