Fusing lines between multi-media installation and sensory-spatial experience, New York-based artist Liz Phillips mediates the very sights and sounds of New York City’s Governors Island in her latest piece, “Wave Crossings.”
Installed on Governors Island’s St. Cornelius Chapel, “Wave Crossings” indeed weaves a spanning mirage of the senses, digitally facilitated but very much surreal. An audience member is first greeted with the swirling, shimmering stained glass windows of the church, harnessed and projected through an interactive sensor system to fill the space. The naturally created colors and shapes are then blended into transitory images displayed on a central Wavetable – a surface of water tempered with sub audio systems.
The auditory layers are brought then harvested from the void. Using a real-time tone processing and sonic synthesis transposition, as the audience member walks around, live sounds are played to match their pace. The noises come from a mix of live recordings occurring at that moment around the island, everything from ferryboats and fisherman to falling raindrops.
Such a blended scene is as striking as it is ethereal. The effect is that of soundscape, an experiential discovery of collective patterning. The co-dependency of movement with moment, of reflection, light, color, speed, tone, and noise work together to synthesize what Phillip’s dubs “responsive environment sensing.” The piece is as concerned with stillness and silence as it is all this complex digital processing, as the whole scene constantly changes from beat to beat, step by step.