the other side

Every summer solstice, Bay Area luminary Sarah Cahill curates the Garden of Memory, a unique event held in Julie Morgan's Chapel of the Chimes columbarium in Oakland.

Dozens of musicians and sound artists perform and build sound installations in a maze of small galleries, gardens, and interlocking stairways. The experience of the space is genuinely magical; skylights and frosted windows and stained glass allow the setting sun to flood small galleries with golden light. The environment is remniscent of (if more wholesome than) the Victorian arcades of the Brothers Quay's Street of Crocodiles.

Everywhere, the silent ashes of thousands of people are honored, for a single night, with music and the laughter of children excitedly exploring the halls. It's my favorite sound event of the year.

In 2005, I participated by creating The Other Side, a four-channel site-specific installation tucked away in a small antechamber. (And I subsquently returned).



the other rooms
gauntánamo express
desert sun

the other side
on top of the world
what the thunder said
san francisco sauvignon

would you, would you?
invisible cities
deep creatures
vincent fecteau
monkey pod

The Other Side at the Garden of Memory

As with Desert Sun, the other installation I worked on during the summer of 2005, I found my clearest response to a profound location to be a very literal one.

The installation itself was quite minimal. Four speakers played two slightly desynchronized copies of a simple stereo soundscape, creating an oddly dislocating if otherwise unmanipulated soundscape. Analog signal generators contributed heterodyning sine waves: pure unchanging tones piercing the heart of the disintegrated world.

The field recording at the center of the piece was chosen to reground the visitor in where they were. Identified by a small note in the space, it documented a human body being ritually cremated on a funeral pyre at Harishchandra Ghat in Varanasi (Benares), an ancient holy city on the Ganges.

the other side 15 MB

Human body being cremated, with close-miked wood fire and six sine waves.