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Lorin Tone lights up the sky

by Maya Tripitaka

Nuna Satellite Exhibition, 2019

Solar winds and magnetospheric plasma. Or sepulchral lights dancing in the sky. One is from a textbook, the other evokes magic, and both are descriptions of the eerie fragile beauty born out of violence that smears the night sky around Earth's poles. So too with a newly opened sound sculpture at Nuna, Aurora by Lorin Tone—a beautiful mesmeric meditation, an elergy, a calm that addresses a storm.

The sound source for this work—a composition by renowned film composer Hans Zimmer, was written to raise funds for the victims of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting massacre. Twelve people were killed in the shooting and 58 more were wounded by gunfire.

Sound media artist Lorin Tone approached Zimmer's management to gain permission to reinterpret the piece into an interactive virtual sound sculpture. Permission was duly granted and Tone set about deconstructing the work, cutting it into pieces and stitching them into randomised layers, adding silences, superimposing fragments and adding interactive elements.

The result is more than interesting. In many ways it transcends its source material, exploiting aspects of the Virtual Reality medium in ways that are not normally possible in a scored composition. Tone has set a number of speakers in motion to create a ‘sound field’—sound that is constantly shifting in relation to the listener's position. A number of these speakers are activated by touch. The avatars of listeners are able to insert new sonic threads by activating a randomised selection of samples of tuned choral singing. Interaction with the work constantly changes its texture and produces new sonic mixings.

In electroacoustic works of this sort, the sound often moves through a bank of surrounding speakers to produce an illusion of movement—referred to as stereo imaging—and in live performance musicians can play while moving around the audience. But Virtual Reality allows the possibility of moving speakers and a level of personal interaction with the music not really possible in concert halls. What this work brings to its audience is an innovation—a harnessing of the unique potential of Virtual Reality to deliver something artistically 'other'.

Tone has utilised this potential to dramatic effect. This is a beautiful, timeless work, one that weaves magic across spinning stars.

WHERE :Nuna Satellite Gallery: Aurora

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