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Acoustic Deconstruction of 2626 Bancroft Way

About this project

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is relocating to a new building, and the fate of their current home, Woo Hon Fai Hall (Mario Ciampi, 1970) is uncertain. If the building is repurposed, the open gallery space will be reinforced and divided up. Whatever the building’s fate, the beloved acoustic of this brutalist gem will soon change forever.

On January 28, 2015, when the last exhibition is gone and the galleries are empty, we will measure, study, listen to, and document the acoustic nature of the space. We will then commission sound artists to engage creatively with the palette of data and perform for the public in acousmatic style at The Lab in San Francisco. For the performance, a state-of-the-art Meyer Sound Constellation audio system will be installed at The Lab, and a live recording will be released in digital and vinyl LP formats. Listeners will experience the acoustic soul of the Ciampi building, disembodied from the physical space and modified through the lens of the artists.

Traditional (dodecahedral loudspeaker) and cutting edge (laser scan) measurement techniques will be used to better understand how sound energy develops within the space. Impulse responses, point clouds, and simulations will be generated for artistic, scientific, and archival use.

Awareness of the sonic importance of brutalist architecture will be raised at a time where buildings of this style are being demolished at an alarming pace. The Ciampi building’s cascading planes of concrete, cavernous interior, and spare finishes amount to a unique acoustic praised by performers and audiences for decades, and this is a rare window of opportunity understand and preserve, in-part, how its acoustics influenced the performances that took place inside it.

This Kickstarter is the sole source of funding for this project. BAM/PFA are providing access to the space but only if we can fund the project ourselves. The funding goal is the minimum required for the success of this important project.

This concept was devised during an overlap of residencies at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer in Troy, NY. Playback system, measurement equipment, and measurement support generously provided by Meyer Sound.