Arvo Pärt and Snøhetta Collaborate for stillspotting nyc: manhattan

Stillspotting

For the second edition of stillspotting nyc, a two-year multidisciplinary project that takes the Guggenheim Museum's programming out into the streets of New York City's boroughs, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and U.S. and Norway–based architecture firm Snøhetta create urban soundscapes around Lower Manhattan that explore the relationship between space and sound. To a Great City, the Manhattan edition of stillspotting nyc, will be open to the public for two extended weekends on September 15–18 and 22–25, 2011.

While the vitality and stimulation of the urban environment can be pleasant, those living in or visiting densely populated areas such as New York are often unaware that their ears continually need time to adjust to strong differences between the sounds that surround them—just as the pupils of the eyes only gradually accommodate to the change from light to dark.

Pärt (b. 1935, Paide, Estonia) has described his music as a frame for silence and uses reduction of sound rather than augmentation to create his compositions. Pärt's concept of tintinnabuli ("little bells" in Latin), which forms the basis of most of his work, was born from his vision for an extremely nuanced aural environment that could not be measured, so to speak, in kilometers or meters but only in millimeters. His pieces often revolve around a central tone that reappears consistently throughout the work.

The Guggenheim Museum organized a collaboration between Pärt and Snøhetta in which the architects have selected—and in some cases subtly altered—urban spaces that embody the concept of a central tone and extend the perception of sound into the realm of space. Visitors will experience this confluence of music and architecture at five separate locations downtown that quietly celebrate the city, ten years after the September 11 attacks. Traveling through sites along the periphery of Ground Zero, participants may encounter a green labyrinth created by The Battery Conservancy, reflect in an underground chamber at Governors Island National Monument, and enter otherwise inaccessible spaces in landmark skyscrapers. The stillness and seclusion of these spaces heightens one's awareness and recalibrates the senses. Over the course of a day, participants may visit each space multiple times at their leisure to understand how their perception changes based on circumstances such as time, stress, appetite, and sleep. Listeners become increasingly sensitized as they are drawn in and ideally will be transformed to a focused and tranquil state.

In conjunction with the projects organized around the city, visitors may also identify and plot out their personal areas of quiet and respite in a personalized map as part of the Create Your Own Stillspot program at stillspotting.guggenheim.org/create-your-own.

Stillspotting nyc is organized by David van der Leer, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies, with Sarah Malaika, Stillspotting Project Associate, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Visiting To a Great City

To a Great City is presented around Lower Manhattan among five locations, starting at Castle Clinton National Monument inside Battery Park (between Battery Place and State Street). Hours are Thursdays through Sundays, September 15–18 and 22–25, 11 am–7 pm with the last ticket pickup at 4 pm. Visitors will receive a map, directions, and one-day access to each of the stillspots for a self-guided tour. A full visit, including each of the sites, takes approximately three hours, and visitors may opt to customize their route. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for members. Discounted rates are available for groups of ten or more. Advance registration is strongly suggested. To register and purchase tickets, find directions, or learn more visit stillspotting.guggenheim.org.

Snøhetta. Concept sketch for To a Great City, 2011. Digital photograph with handwriting. © Snøhetta 2011

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