Residency with Copper Leg, Estonia, June-July 2018

Environmental art research project at Copper Leg Residency, Vaskjala, Estonia

The focus of this season of residencies at Copper Leg is nature and environmental art. My initial proposal was to make a new version of my work 'Return' on a much larger scale, hanging big pieces of household furniture from trees and having them play sounds by stretching wires across them and making them into instruments, to be played by the wind.

I was accepted as Artist-in-Residence and Janno Bergmann, co-ordinator of the residency, and I began to discuss what was possible. He mentioned that they had an old disused piano that I could use, so on arrival we looked at what was possible with this.

We began by opening up the piano to see what is possible by attaching wires to the strings. Also the string damping pedal has been fixed in the open position to allow the strings to resonate for the longest time possible.

Various tests were made with the objects and materials you see in the first photograph. In the second you see the most effective way we have found for the wind to 'play' the piano. Scraps of metal are suspended from a constructed tower to hang as low as possible to allow greater movement when hit by the wind, which is almost constant here.

In the third image you see we have constructed three towers from which objects will be suspended. The triangular form and the triangular shapes of scrap metal combine well in a visual way.

I have also recorded the effect of the piano being played in this way, although the location is somewhat sheltered from the prevailing winds, so the sound is not as strong as it will be once the piano is moved to the position we have selected for it. The sound can be heard below.

Once we moved the piano to the selected position in the grounds of Copper Leg, we reinstalled the wires and the towers holding the triangular metal strikers.

I then began to work with solar panels and small motors, mostly vibrating motors found in telephones. The tests went well once we had these. Thanks to Janno and the support of the Cultural Foundation behind Copper Leg, the project was a success. We managed to achieve our aim of the piano being played by natural forces of wind and light.

There are 2 video links below and further down you will find a selection of photographs documenting the latter stages of the development of 'Force Mineure'.