Inhabited: Sounds of the Sonoran Desert (2019)
Inhabited: Sounds of the Sonoran Desert is a sound installation and performance that I presented in the Diane and Bruce Halle Skyspace Garden at Arizona State University in the Spring of 2019. My motivation for this project was to bring awareness to the sounds made by desert animals such as the Gila monster, western diamondback, javelina, and bobcat. These sounds are then combined and manipulated in juxtaposition with the sounds of ASU’s suburban campus (cars, people, airplanes, HVAC systems, and city-dwelling birds), and are triggered by a musical performance. The concurrence of sounds in Inhabited serves as a metaphor for the coexistence of cities and wildlife habitats within the Sonoran Desert region. The technical aspects of the Inhabited were visually unobtrusive to the location and battery-powered: Bela-Board microcomputers, microphones, and small speakers hidden in flower-pot enclosures. The Bela Boards run a Pure Data patch where the live sound input controls the envelope and volume of the pre-recorded wildlife sounds, making their playback responsive to the garden’s sonic environment. The incoming audio is also processed and amplified with filtering and delay. The performance aspect of Inhabited is a prepared-guitar improvisation. Drawing inspiration from Bennet Hogg’s paper The Violin, The River, and Me (2013) and his performances with the Landscape Quartet, my focus was on using the guitar not so much as a musical tool in itself, but as a stimulator and exciter of the sound-installation.