luke jerram: aeolus wind sound sculpture at canary wharf, london
all images courtesy the artist
luke jerram: aeolus
canada square park, canary wharf, london, UK
open now until the 10th of may 2012
british artist luke jerram, has developed ‘aeolus’, an acoustic and optical wind pavilion installed in canary wharf, london, UK. the stringed musical instrument takes its name from aeolus, ruler of the four winds in greek mythology as the sculpture relies solely on the wind to create its music. the futuristic sounds produced by the massive aeolian harp are generated entirely from the 310 internally polished, stainless steel tubes and clear strings resonating with the wind. the strings are joined to exterior posts, connected to several of the pipes extruding from the arch’s surface. outfitted with a skin to cover the tops of these pieces, the vibrations of the strings and skin projected down through the tubes, communicated to viewers standing beneath the arch. steel cylinders left unconnected to the strings of the instrument also add to the soundscape as they hum at lowered frequencies, responding to the external influences of wind and environmental vibration.
‘sounds created by aeolus on salford quays’ by sounding out aeolus
the recordings of the giant aeolian harp were created by placing two miniature DPA microphones inside of the steel cylinders of ‘aeolus’.
the optical aspect of the sculpture is found, firstly, in the bright, mirrored steel tubes which draw the light in through themselves an into the semi-circle below. the viewer may then be immersed in a enlarged light while looking through the tubes to the outside world, the familiar shapes and landscape both inverted and magnified. the sunlight also filters through these components, moving like an astronomical clock, indicating the time as the disks of light on the floor move as the sun moves throughout the day.
a detailed perspective of the artwork’s harp strings
looking to the exterior from inside the honeycomb-shaped walls of the archway
the idea for ‘aeolus’ came to jerram while on a research trip in iran in 2007. while in yazd, the artist met with a desert qanant well digger, speaking to him of his trade. the well digger explained to the artist that his work process included traveling into the desert with an axe, first drawing a circle in the sand, then digging straight down into the rock. after the well digger hit the water table with his axe, he would dig across, moving the water to the neighboring towns. every 50 meters, he would cut an air vent for anyone working below ground to breathe more easily. the well digger explained to jerram that the wells would sometimes sing and make noises as wind blows over the top. while in iran, the artist also studied traditional mosque architecture, fascinated by the geometric shapes, domes and use of light, and acoustic properties typical to these spiritual structures. from this exploration, jerram hoped to develop a work embodying the sounds of sacred architecture. jerram’s experience speaking with the desert well digger and observation of iranian architecture helped to form the piece as he developed a sculptural investigation of wind, architecture, acoustics and light.
a view through a light pipe
looking through the mirrored tube at different points throughout the day
‘aeolus in canary wharf by luke jerram, london 2012′ by luke jerram
progress images of the sculpture being built
an alternate view of construction
the diagram indicates where the various sizes of tubes should be installed
a detailed perspective of the arch joint
the piece was developed to offer the public a space through which to engage with the concepts of engineering, acoustics, and aerodynamics. the artist worked closely with the institute of sound and vibration research at the university of southampton and the acoustics research centre at the university of salford.
CAD modeling of ‘aeolus’ by arup
an early sketch of ‘aeolus’
‘aeolus fabrication movie in progress- june2011′ by luke jerram