Pythagoras’ Garden (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Jan-Erik Andersson and Shawn Decker: Pythagoras’ Garden. A sound sculpture in the Currents New Media Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 8–24.6.2018

Pythagoras’ garden is a sounding arbor with a structure assembled in the shape of the original proof of the theorem named after him, with a right-angled triangle in the center of three square structures. The structures are made from re-claimed wood obtained locally. Hanging from the arbor are more than 30 small speakers cast from concrete using fruit and other plant-derived shapes as molds for both the inside and outside of the speakers.

Each speaker produces small sounds based on insect and bird rhythms, as well as other natural patterns. Each speaker has sounds that are completely independent from the others, and all sound is generated in real-time and constantly changing in detail. The piece presents a juxtaposition of the rational thought and planning of human-kind (as represented by the Pythagorean proof) with the rich and ever-changing world of rhythms produced by the non-human biological world.

In mixing natural forms (the cast fruits and other natural objects) with the Cartesian construction and realization of the Pythagorean Proof, we further this juxtaposition to the physical forms themselves, indeed even utilizating the acoustic resonance of these objects in realizing the work.  Sounds would be realized specifically for each room.  According to Pythagoras’ proof, the area of the two smaller rooms (representing the distance of each side squared) will always equal the area of the largest room.  Sounds were chosen with this idea in mind.