A Garden, Faraway (2017) – site-specific sound and light installation, Vapaan Taiteen Tila, Helsinki FI


A Garden, Faraway (for Katri Vala) is a 3-dimensional generative musical composition and installation, shown in the Sounding: Underground exhibition at Vapaan Taiteen Tila (Free Arts Space, located under the Katri Vala’s Park) in Helsinki, November 2017. It is created with the architecture and the sound of the ventilation system of Vapaan Taiteen Tila in mind: the idea has been to use the existing static noise/tone from the large ventilation pipes as the central sonic element and build a slowly evolving musical landscape or “frame” around it. The music is diffused into the space by using some of the pipes as “invisible” speakers through the use of audio transducers, and the slowly undulating character of the composition reflects the architectural design of the two cavernous corridors it’s playing in. The piece is accompanied by the reflection of hidden, slowly changing coloured LED lights in the second corridor, while the first is lit by warm spotlights illuminating the walls. The overall expression of the work is subtle and almost ephemeral: the aim has been to transform the auditory and visual experience of the space into more sensuous and contemplative one, inviting the audience to slow down and allow more attention to the sounds and structures around them.

The piece is a modest homage to Katri Vala, who was a forward-thinking Finnish writer in the early 20th century and who is buried in the park above the exhibition space. Her poem Kukkiva Maa (Flowering Earth), taken from her debut book Kaukainen puutarha (A Distant Garden), inspired me greatly as an adolescent growing up in a small town in Finland, to seek life beyond those offered by then cultural, economic and political realities.

An excerpt of the part II of the 2-part installation music

All photos by Ava Grayson.

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