A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

Project MoMA: West Coast

Posted: May 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording

[Today’s post is a cross-country collaboration of field recordists, myself  (Mr. Noise Jockey) and Michael Raphael of Sepulchra.com. We’re simultaneously posting recordings from our respective museums of modern art. I visited SFMOMA in San Francisco, and Michael visited the MoMA in New York City. Please read both posts to compare and contrast the recordings and our observations.]


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was pretty dead when I got there. The bright, sunny day drove most people outside, and it was a bit early in the day. What I recorded, therefore, was as much the sound of the building as the people within it.

SFMOMA is built around a 6-story-tall cylindrical atrium. topped by a suspended interior footbridge. I recorded on each landing of each floor, all the way up to the bridge. I also recorded in a few galleries with varying amounts of people in them. The reverb was astounding, with long decays and high-frequency absorption that made any sound almost a drone. With light attendance, the building channels sound in such a way as to render it calming and enveloping.

Museums tend to be genuflective, introspective places. They have a reputation as being places to whisper, hold your chin and nod as you look upon the works. With this in mind, I found that SFMOMA’s art galleries and its public spaces have related but different acoustic properties.

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