Festival: LUMA Southern Light Project | Queen’s Birthday Weekend 3-5 June 2016
Media: Digital animation 0:05:50:00, 25.00 fps, 1280 x 720 | digital soundscape | fabric screen
Site: Queenstown, New Zealand | Freshwater pond in the Queenstown Gardens
Music for Pulse: 2 cellos, violin, harp and tympanum (composed and performed by Mark K. Johnson)

This installation for the LUMA Southern Light Festival unveils the PULSE of nature, still beating beneath our cities. The living landscape lies permanently hidden beneath the built landscape, but this landscape still has a PULSE. It continues to beat, but we have lost our connection with the pulse of our natural environment.

Visionscape (Daniel K. Brown)

PULSE represents the Pulse of Nature, the Pulse of Life, the Pulse of Time – all transforming continually in response to the environment around us. PULSE originates as a dense cluster of water reflections that appear in the darkness deep beneath the harbour wharf. A sound tone triggers the first Pulse, a concentric ring of light that emanates outward from the darkened space and then returns inward again, ever repeating, while increasing in intensity and complexity. The circles of light act as the horizontal equivalent of a depth sounding. When the circles hit the wooden pilings or choppy water or rocky outcrops, the perfect circles of light distort as well as reflect in other directions. Through the distortion of these circles, we decipher the topography of the mysterious, darkened spaces beneath the wharf, a threshold between the original landscape and the city above. And we are reminded of the interconnection of the Pulse of Nature, the Pulse of Life, the Pulse of Time.

Soundscape (Mark K. Johnson)

The soundscape for Pulse includes a principal melody generated from the number of syllables in an ancient Latin text from the Night Hours – prayers only recited in the hours of darkness. The melody is established by Cello 1. Rhythmically every time a new word begins, the time signature changes to accommodate the number of syllables. The Harp follows the identical rhythmic scheme as Cello 1 but delayed by one beat. Cello 2 cycles through one loud Pulse of six beats, then one medium beat followed by one soft beat, relentlessly throughout. The Violin enters exactly one beat after each rest in the cello melody, using only three pitches and alternating between whichever pitch is not used directly below it by one of the other instrumental voices. The Tympanum strikes every 4 beats until the end. It represents the rhythm of the heartbeat – the Pulse of Nature, the Pulse of Life, the Pulse of Time.

PULSE refers to the Pulse of Nature (environmental dynamics), the Pulse of Life (blood flowing through our veins), and the Pulse of Time (eternity). The Pulse connects all cultures around the world. It connects us to our natural environment. It is universal to us all.

PULSE LUMA © 2016 Daniel K. Brown
PULSE LUMA Soundscape © 2016 Mark K. Johnson
Digital animation: Johann Nortje and Daniel K. Brown
Original Soundtrack: https://soundcloud.com/mark-k-johnson/sets/medieval-and-other-strangeness
PULSE LUMA video: https://vimeo.com/170076714
LUMA video by Simon Ennals: https://vimeo.com/169655964


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