Transmission: Translating the Vibrations of Rock Arches to a New Concrete Home

The building that holds Transmission
The building that holds Transmission. Picture | Jeffrey Moore


anish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard has recently created Transmission, an audio installation for the exhibition Resonate Spaces: Sound Art at Dartmouth, which demonstrates the relationship between deep rock and surroundings that live on and around it.

The project is based on materials collected from some Native American Tribal Lands in Utah and Arizona, containing both seismic vibration recordings of the ambient resonance of rock arches and above ground acoustic recordings from these places.

In the introduction of the project, Kirkegaard highlights one of the locations called Rainbow Bridge, meaning “rainbow turned to stone” in Navajo Nonnezoshe, as it is amongst the arches that are sacred to native inhabitants.

Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge. Picture | Jeffrey Moore

The project is inspired by a study conducted by geoscientist Jeff Moore and geophysics graduate student Paul Geimer from the Department of Geology & Geophysics at the University of Utah. Supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) in America, these researchers use recordings of the natural vibration to analyse structural stability of rock arches from the above-stated locations. Though these vibrations are imperceptible to human, when waves resonate throughout the bridge, they cause small movements and look like wobbles on a plate of gelatin when exaggerated.

Moore said: “These rock movements are happening every second of every day, but are too small for us to see or feel. Hearing the natural hum of the arches gives them a ‘voice’ where, in effect, they convey their state of health and their responses to all manner of forces.”

Transmission – a signal that is broadcast or sent out. Or something that is passed on.

Kirkegarrd helped Moore’s team to capture the sound of wind and streams near rocks and layered recordings and confirm that rocks are a vibrant element within the ecosystem.

Later, the installation has been set up in the Fairchild Atrium at the ECOLAB (Department of Geography at Dartmouth College), a tall and slender architecture made of raw concrete.

“These gorgeous rock arches appear to be stationary, but they’re actually in constant motion in response to wind and other environmental forces,” said Justin Lawrence, program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences.

Listen to the audio clip and read more about the project at this link.