A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Olivia Block Installs a "Sonambient Pavilion" in Millennium Park

On the occasion of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, SAIC alum, sound artist, composer, and former faculty member Olivia Block (SAIC 1996–97) will debut her new site-specific sound installation, Sonambient Pavilion, in Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion on Saturday, November 7. According to the Chicago Reader, the 30-minute sound work is an homage to designer, sculptor, and sound artist Harry Bertoia's "sonambient sculpture"—a neglected, and often overlooked, 1975 public artwork located in Chicago's Aon Center Plaza. The sculpture consists of vertical, flexible copper and brass rods that chime and ring when brushed together. In the Reader article Block says, "I always thought [the sculpture] seemed in disrepair, a little bit ignored. When I taught at the School of the Art Institute I took students there, and they loved the sculptures."

Block sourced the sounds for her Sonambient Pavilion from the Bertoia sculpture, and is expanding the limits of the Pritzker Pavilion's sound system for her installation. SAIC faculty member and Experimental Sound Studio founder Lou Mallozzi helped Block propose the work for the Biennial and realize it for the Millennium Park bandshell. Taling about the sound system, he says, "The upgrade is significant. It moves us from working in a surround-sound lateral format...to spatializing sounds above the listener as well, creating a monumental enveloping effect."

Sonambient Pavilion will loop in the Pritzker Pavilion during scheduled hours on Saturdays and Sundays through November 22.

Image from the Chicago Reader. Photo: Andrea Bauer