douglas irving repetto

Study for Time Travel

speakers, wire, string,
sound files, sound playback device

Speakers swing in slow arcs, playing long, simple tones. Exactly the same sound is sent to each speaker. As the speakers swing the sounds coming from them shift slightly in frequency. This is the doplar effect, familiar from the rise and fall of an ambulance siren as it whizzes by. The doplar-shifted sounds, which are now at slightly different frequencies, interact with one another, causing a slight flutter of interference when they meet up again at your ears.

I like the idea that some signal (sound, light, thought, a person) is split off from itself, and each copy is sent off on its own. Once split, the copies live parallel, but separate, lives. Some time later they meet, and although they're still essentially the same signal, the different routes they have taken, and the forces that have acted on them, have changed them in subtle but important ways. Upon meeting, those changes become apparent. I think of this as a primitive form of time travel.

Study for Time Travel was first presented at the CalArts CEAIT Festival in 2000, with recordings of Jody Diamond quietly singing long, high notes. It was remade in 2009 for Welcome Sound: Audio Art in Roosevelt Homes in Roosevelt, New Jersey. Unfortunately I could not find the original recordings of Jody singing, so I used simple synthesized tones based on the tunings of different Javanese gamelans. Thanks to Nancy and Ralph Warnick for hosting Study for Time Travel in their lovely backyard!

with Larry Polansky
at the CEAIT festival

images from
Roosevelt show

video from
Roosevelt show
(7 MB .mov)