Palm House Transect (2014) is a large-scale, site-specific sound installation developed for the Greenhouse at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York. The piece consists of a generative sound composition built from field recordings and electronic tones, which are played through a set of twenty-eight loudspeakers spread irregularly throughout the Greenhouse structure. The work is based around the concept of a line transect, or the path along which an observer counts and records occurrences of the phenomena of study (e.g. plants). This very specific, attentive mode of moving through space provides a model for engagement with the piece and the site.

 

The title comes from the name of the central area of the Greenhouse, a section were palm trees were cultivated. The sound composition is based on linear mapping of both the Greenhouse structure and elements of the surrounding estate. The shapes of these lines and the spacing of elements found along them are used as the underlying framework for the piece, and is reflected in the timings, movements, and forms of the sounds heard in the piece.

 

The movement of sound in the space is articulated visually by a set of brightly colored line cables that run from point to point among the speakers and between key structural elements of the greenhouse. These outline the paths and trajectories of the sonic material and illustrate the idea of a transect as it functions within the site.

 

Palm House Transect is presented by the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts and the Lyndhurst Estate, a national trust site, as part of "In The Garden of Sonic Delights," an exhibition of outdoor, site-specific art works. Production of the piece was supported by Brown University, the Harvestworks Artist in Residence Program, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.