Metamorphic Dis-chords

2019 Art Installation with 50% of the metal recycled from the 2017 Sonoma Fire


The transformation culminating in one experience is often the result of many. The modern life we enjoy arrived at great cost. Industrialization required disrupting earth that rested in wait for thousands of millennia.

We broke and drilled the surface, crushed and sifted, burned sludge, smelted and reformed. We cut living trees and ground them into shapes to serve our needs. Long before all that, stars exploded and meteors collided to create earth itself.

Humans settled into their exploitative, rote civilizations, periodically arrested in shock and awe when natural disasters repossessed nature’s materials. We’re not in control, never have been, never will be. We adapt to transitions through transitions of our own. This project reminds through the haze of two events, past and present.

In 2017, a devastating fire changed the lives of thousands of people in Sonoma, CA. With this fire event, nature took back everything, reducing human constructs to the elemental components of charred ash and metal. Order to disorder.

Shocked by landfill-consigned losses, humans find solace in re-purposing the remnants. Disorder to Order.

Material transformation abounds, structural elements reformatted; inspiring contemplation, yet speaking of devastation, abandonment and artistic possibilities in the wake of crippling losses.

A mass of many artistic projects, with distorted metal materials salvaged from fire-ravaged properties, this is not one single artistic element, but many. HALF of the metal materials used in this project were salvaged from fire-ravaged properties.

From their valueless wasteland, donors smirked reprise in learning of the plan: an alternate reality where groaning scraps of morphed instrumentation could express their narratives. Kinetic and interactive fabrications combine to play nature’s random songs. We don’t assume harmony here; we anticipate discordance. The question is: can harmony emerge via human interaction on the playa?


8 ft wide x 6 ft deep x 14 ft tall

Aeolian harps were invented in Greek times and this largest artwork is a reboot. A rectangular trampoline frame raised perpendicular to the ground with metal rods connecting the strings steel drums. The wind confronts a pressure imbalance as it blows across the strings, causing them to vibrate. This motion is transferred to each drum. Within each drum is a pickup similar to what would be used to amplify the sound from a violin. An electrical amplifier brings the sound level up to 90db.

Interactive Instruments

Random placement TBD. Open call for anyone to add to this project by building and bringing a wind-powered noise maker for the exhibit.

Whirly Noisers

Whirlygigs that make noise along fence line. Open call for anyone to add to this project by building and bringing a wind-powered noise maker for the exhibit.

Chime Turbine

10 ft. square x 12 ft. tall

An artfully crafted wooden frame constructed from mostly reclaimed lumber hosts a horizontal-cupped scoop turbine that runs a vertical shaft. The shaft is connected to a striking mechanism that rings chimes created from salvaged high-pressure air tanks.

Boom Cymbal

6 x 6 x 3 enclosure around a stock bird scare canon

Large-scale fruit farmers use propane canons set to randomly make loud sounds to scare away birds. This one is configured to spin after each event to land in a random direction. Each time a spin is triggered, a striker pings a gong to go with the boom, like a base not followed by a cymbal. This sound is tamed significantly by an array of pallets arranged around it to screen it from the public and to keep everyone a safe distance.


A few weeks before the event, the only person who knew how to assemble and complete the Chime Turbine fractured three vertebrae and was forced to back out of all projects. Since this was the anchor component we shifted from brag-worthy to doing the best with remaining assets and partners. 

The Trampoharp fabrication was complete but it was impossible to test its function in the construction area where wind seldom blew. So we hauled that whole thing out there and set it up hoping it would function as designed. It didn’t. It still looked impressive enough to receive some positive feedback, but there was one main problem: in spite of bringing five different types of strings for the resonance system, all but one type broke when tensioned enough to reach a high enough frequency to project into the echo chambers holding the pickup coils. The stainless strings that didn’t break held together only when tension was low, which resulted in them not projecting. The heavy string, similar to the thickness of barbed wire, was too heavy to oscillate. 

Luckily, JustJim’s whimsical kinetic plastic trash art saved the project. They turned out to be quite noisy and quirky and many people fell in love with his six pieces scattered around the perimeter. 

We were prepared to redo and upgrade the art installation in 2020 before the pandemic cancelled the event. the Chime Turbine was going to be fully functional and we were adding a bike xylophone project after so many people stopping by while we were setting up asking about our interactivity. Bike Xylophone was planned to be a route with four to eight notes bikes could ride over that would trigger actuator levers to hit gongs in sequence, sort of like how a bass drum operates. We’ll do this in 2021!