Last October, David Wicks and I attended a Dry Immersion Symposium near Joshua Tree. Participants were asked to submit proposals for work based on the experience. In March, we returned to 29 Palms to install Trace: Resonance Field as part of Dry Immersion III thanks to a generous grant from the UCIRA.
David and I were both impressed by the remnants of activity we saw in the desert. Most of what happens there occurs unseen. What we experience are the trace elements of the past—snake tracks, cracked clay, burrowed holes, lizard poop, cracked rocks. Even a lush oasis exists though the activity of fault lines that bring water and minerals to the surface.
Trace uses Python to convert seismic waveforms from the mountains near Wonder Valley into data loaded onto an Arduino board. The board sends signals to small solenoid motors that strike a series of ceramic plates created by ceramic artist Elaine Hu. Participants walking though the installation experience a sonification of the seismic activity from the past.
The experience was fantastic and it drew a lot of local press. The Palms Bar & Grill alone is worth the trip, and hanging out in the desert with other artists—especially when they bring a dog—is time well-spent.