NPR featured the “Natural Frequencies” installation and performance in Shake, Rattle and Toll: Berkeley’s Bells Play Sounds of Earth. Author Laura Sydell discusses Bay Area fault lines, data visualization, the process of generating the score for the carillons, and the re-imagination of bell-tower history and purpose.
“Most residents of the San Francisco Bay area prefer to forget what scientists know to be true: One of the major faults that runs below their feet will cause a major earthquake in the next 30 years.
But a recent performance on the campus of University of California, Berkeley, combined the work of engineers and artists to create a melodic reminder that the earth below us is in constant motion. In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the bells of Berkeley’s Sather Tower, the world’s third-tallest bell and clock tower, were programmed to play a score composed in real time by the data from seismic shifts taking place around the Hayward Fault. The fault cuts right through the Berkeley campus.
The project is called ‘Natural Frequencies,’ and it was conceived of by composer Edmund Campion, artist and roboticist Ken Goldberg and artist Greg Niemeyer; all of whom are professors at UC Berkeley. Accompanying the bells was also a light show, which was programmed to respond to the earth’s movements.”