Los Angeles-based violinist, composer, and sound designer Henry Webster (Music BFA 13, MFA 17) transforms a stroll through natural Southern Californian landscapes into a meditative sonic experience in his augmented reality (AR) soundwalk The Bird.
Created in collaboration with Chicago-based composer and sound artist davy, Webster’s The Bird uses geolocated sound application echoes.xyz to explore new avenues of performance that inspire appreciation of the natural world while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The project exists in two iterations: The Bird (in The Sanctuary) is accessible in Griffith Park by entering from Vermont Avenue and locating the Bird Sanctuary, past The Greek Theatre; and The Bird (in The Rocks) winds through Vasquez Rocks Park, located northeast of Los Angeles.
According to Webster, “Each shape in the walk triggers a new sonic element, meant to flow to the next moment but designed for pauses and meditation.” Webster recommends experiencing the walks on a sunny day. Listen to an excerpt of The Bird below.
“The inspiration for The Bird came largely from a desire to explore performance practices maintainable during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic,” Webster recently told 24700. “This is the first of many experiments working with geolocated to augment natural landscapes and present work that individuals can enjoy safely. I think of The Bird as a sonic statue dedicated to an inner calm that I believe we all have a right to make space for.”
In creating site-specific audio-guided walks for the COVID era, Webster is in company with fellow CalArtian Ellen Reid (Music MFA 11), who has composed SOUNDWALK—a series, according to a recent Hyperallergic article, of “specific musical pieces for more than 20 miles of trails.” Reid’s work similarly takes the listener through Griffith Park, with a particular focus on the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign.