shadow integration

The song cycle in the player above is the heart of "shadow integration," an installation mounted at Vermont College of Fine Arts as part of the MFA in Music Composition residency in August of 2018. Imagined as a spatial and musical representation of crossing the boundary between waking and dreaming, “shadow integration” invited people to peer into darker spaces (either alone, or with friends), examine our dreams, and integrate our shadows with our waking selves.

Dreams engage all of our senses, so for this installation, I wanted to provide opportunities to play with sound, light and touch -- to create an experiential, experimental, playful space in which visitors could connect with their inner dream selves in a waking state. To bring this to life, I used a combination of spatial and tactile elements, film projection, composition and sound design (including HyperSonic sound).

Visitors to the installation first passed through a dark curtain into a small white space filled with the sounds of breath, magic drums, and distant dripping water (“draw in”). Next, they moved down a darkened, paneled tunnel, through several layers of hanging, transparent fabric, stretched sounds and indecipherable speech -- mimicking the experience of descending through layers of sleep (“come loose”). I used two stereo pairs of Genelec speakers to create an immersive sound corridor here.

Inside the interior of the installation, visitors literally passed through a veil - a hanging scrim - into the world of dreams. To achieve this effect, I shot and edited two films, and projected the image onto a black scrim and a large white screen, creating a double image that people could step into. I intentionally chose archetypal images of sea and sky, hoping to inspire visitors to connect with the universal within. I created a song for each dream, with "avalon (sea dream)" using whale song, river water, acoustic and electronic harp, and church bells, and "vaulted (wind dream)," using violin, electronic pads, reverb manipulation and bottle tones.

Inside the dream-space, a HyperSonic speaker projected music onto the visitors and the scrim itself, and as they moved and interacted with the projected images and touched the scrim, they created and inhabited a unique sound and shadow experience.

Click here if you'd like to see the songs and films on YouTube: avalon (sea dream), and vaulted (wind dream). Or just listen and imagine below.

Special thanks to John Mallia, Justin Tosh, Garrett Steele, Nikki Capra, Nick Creed, Colin McCaffrey, and the facilities crew at VCFA for their invaluable help and support.