Monthly Archives: June 2014

QUARTETS, a sound installation by Stephan Moore, OPENSIGNAL Festival 5.16-17 2014


Many musicians, improvisers, composers, and sound artists were asked to record 7 minutes of sound-making using any method familiar and/or exciting to them. Suggestions, meant to be helpful (and to be taken, or not), included: recording in one pass, devising one’s own structure, imagining shared sonic space, and incorporating stillness or silence. The music could be improvised, composed, or created with any combination of methods that suited the artist.

In this installation, four recordings by four different contributing artists play simultaneously, each recording through its own speaker. The four sound files are chosen at random from all contributed files, forming impromptu quartets. Each quartet lasts for 7 minutes, with a 30-second pause before the next one begins.

The speakers are Baritone Hemisphere Speakers, which produce localized sound emanating from each speaker’s position and interact with a room’s natural acoustics. Each speaker is suspended from the ceiling at equal distance to one another, allowing installation-goers to traverse the space of the installation to experience different mixes of the quartets. The display shows which artists are currently being heard in each speaker.

The format of QUARTETS provides an avenue for participation for those engaged with sound-based art practices, some of whom perhaps do not have a performance practice, do not sell music objects, and/or cannot physically be present at the OPENSIGNAL festival (May 2014), for which this piece was created. The installation denies the power structures common to music performance (such as headliners, openers) by giving everyone’s contributions the same weight and equal footing in a unique setting. Additionally, it provides a platform upon which four artists, who might not know one another, may perform together. The result is a series of incredibly compelling surprises from the chance-determined quartets, as their sounds share time together.

There are 86 artists featured in this installation, allowing for a total of 2,123,555 possible quartets. Listening to all possible combinations would require 30 years and nearly 4 months.


list of all participating artists:

QUARTETS is a sound installation by Stephan Moore in collaboration with OPENSIGNAL. First showing at the inaugural OPENSIGNAL Festival on May 16-17th, 2014 at the Granoff Center. Created to celebrate the Spring 2014 OPENSIGNAL project at Brown University, led by Asha Tamirisa and Caroline Park.