William Lamson: Divining Meteorology

April 8-August 28, 2011

Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion

click to enlarge.

Brooklyn-based artist William Lamson (b. 1977) forges a captivating exploration of forces of nature and the passage of time through his inventive, often poetic interventions into natural and man-made environments.

To create Divining Meteorology, Lamson reanimated a former communications tower by transforming it into an instrument. Originally designed to withstand the trials of nature, this monumental tower was relocated from the Missouri countryside to the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion and re-engineered to fit inside the space, as if it had collapsed into itself. In addition, the artist installed a system of speakers and resonators throughout the structure that receive the weather radio signal from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and allow him to “play” the tower as an instrument. By moving a magnetic pickup device across the metal structure, Lamson activates internal resonances within the tower that are both physical and acoustic. The resulting audio composition mixes recordings of the artist’s movements around and through the structure with the live weather radio broadcast. Like the shifting weather, the sound varies from extreme quiet to a vigorous crescendo.

Lamson’s repurposed tower radically reinterprets the weather conditions that the glass-paneled pavilion both reveals and protects against. Harnessing the imperceptible phenomena of a radio signal, the artist—rather than making its real-time weather report audible—translates the signal into a physical and resonant experience. With Divining Meteorology, Lamson has created an unlikely instrument whose totemic presence suggests an unknown mythology.

Support generously provided through the Efroymson Family Fund, a fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation.

How it Works

The sound emanating from Divining Meteorology is a mix of recordings William Lamson made by creating feedback loops using an electric guitar pickup and live weather radio from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. When the electric guitar pickup is placed near the tower, it detects any vibrations in the structure and then amplifies them through the speakers and resonators, which creates more sound and vibrations and builds until we hear horn-like sounds coming out of the tower. By moving the pickup away from the tower, Lamson can control the volume of the feedback.

Fabrication and Installation

William Lamson: Divining Meteorology Indianapolis Museum of Art 4000 Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN