To me, the power of art is its ability to shape our perceptions. Great art has a major impact on our perceptions in many dimensions; auditory, visual, intellectual, taste etc. Lesser art has a lesser effect or no effect.
In 1975, I set out in a van to record the sounds of many public objects in San Francisco. The possibility for recording objects came to my attention thanks to a member of the Briarpatch with whom I consulted, Arnie Lazarus who had developed an audio pickup call the FRAP, flat response audio pickup. It was used by every rock and roll muscian of the time.
Arnie was on the trip, along with Bess Bair the great tap dancer known as Rosie Radiator, Doug McKechnie a musician and composer and lastly Don Sach a photographer.
We played and recorded half a dozen statues, sculptures, stairwells and banisters around the city. Our last object was the Golden Gate Bridge. A few nights earlier Arnie, Doug and myself had gone to test the Golden Gate Bridge for its acoustic possibilities. We were chased off the bridge at the time.
The idea of playing the cables on the bridge, like harp strings, came from in magazine cover done by David Wills. We played the bridge strings. Doug used several heavy mallets and hammers.
David's visual imagery had become an audio and photographic image. Doug made a short musical piece which was played widely on am radio up and down the West Coast.
Since then, countless bridges have been played and the New York Philharmonic has performed a piece using local bridge sounds.
I consider that Golden Gate Bridge creation a good work of art because it has had repercussions in the visual and audio world.
he part that I remember most vividly is that we found one cable that had a standing wave. A standing wave is an extraordinary object. It is a wave that is in perfect harmony with the object in which it travels and the distance it travels. It moves back and forth to perpetuity. You can check it out in Wikipedia.
We found a standing wave in one cable, and because of its potential danger to the bridge, I reported it to the bridge engineer a few days later.
You can find Doug's music online in several places.