I am kind of all over the place with my three ideas…
1) repurposed Victrola
This idea is driven by two parts from a Victrola I currently possess, and would like to repurpose; the needle arm and the cast iron horn elbow with attached floating wood horn. I imagine the needle arm making circles in the snow, and having a recording/playback device embedded in the machine to capture the sound and then amplify it through the horn. I am envisioning the horn being placed apart – but within viewing distance – from the needle arm. Since the cast iron horn piece is quite heavy, this would be stationary. Perhaps the horn could be the center point on an imaginary compass. I could use string and some type of substance – millet? – to trace five circumferences extending out from the horn. The needle arm could then follow the millet circles creating smaller circles along the circumferences. Once all of the circle have been traced/recorded in the snow, the final visual from a bird’s eye view may appear to be a type of mandala design.
2) lichen symphony
I am mildly obsessed by lichens and am interested to create some type of machine that would physically emulate the horn shapes of Cladonia cholorphaea (photo below), or similar Cladonias. I will imagine the sounds a lichen symphony might make. My first instinct is the sound of blowing over the top of a glass, although I would like to explore several options. I am unsure if the sounds should be played electronically, based on sensor activation of a visitor… or if the piece should be analog interactive. I feel this should take lichen-scale, and therefore appear miniature to humans.
From Richard Droker’s website: http://www.waysofenlichenment.net
3) the groundhog whisperer
This may sound a bit strange… A few months ago I realized I have the superpower to communicate with groundhogs. I frequently take walks in the Homewood Cemetery, as it is one of the most beautiful places in Pittsburgh, filled with all kinds of animals… Deer (often), squirrels (always), hawks (frequently), raccoons (often at dusk), foxes (occasionally), toad symphonies (at night during full moons), cicada symphonies (which sound completely different between day and night) and of course, groundhogs. In my experience, these shy creatures bolt for their burrows at the first sign of human approach. Once, I stopped close to a burrow in which a groundhog had just disappeared. I began to make a clicking sound with my tongue and the roof of my mouth. Soon after, the groundhog peeked his/her (I do not know how to tell the difference) head out of the burrow hole. I continued to make the clicking sound, and the groundhog then came completely out of the burrow and raised itself to a vertical position. He/she was clearly interested in the sound I was creating. I stayed still, continuing the clicking for several minutes, and the groundhog seemed both curious and entranced. As soon as I stopped – even though I remained completely still – the groundhog turned tail and disappeared back into the burrow. So…
How would I create a groundhog whispering noise machine? Perhaps I record the sound of my clicking, looped, and then embed this within a box that could be battery/solar(?) operated. In terms of what the machine should look like, I am not sure. Since I do not look like a groundhog (at least, nobody has ever commented that this is the case), it does not seem necessary for the machine to take on a groundhog or human appearance. If I keep the design simple enough, I envision several of these placed at different burrows in the cemetery. I am also on the fence about interactivity in terms of what could trigger interaction for the groundhog. Is there a chance a groundhog could ‘play’ the machine? Should I worry about weather-proofing the box(es), or determine to only utilize the machine(s) on nice days?