The earth generates its own radio signals.  These signals are audible in the VLF (very low frequency) bands, 5 to 400 Hz.  Using the appropriate receiver, sounds of electromagnetic activity such as lightning strikes, solar winds and other magnetic phenomena generated within and outside the earth are audible.  These sounds are described as “whistlers,” “tweeks,” “chorus” and “wavering-tones.” 
These are the kinds of sounds that the earth has made before there was anyone on earth to hear them.  Many of these sounds are familiar.  They are similar to those of the ocean, birds, frogs, whales, seals and insects.  1999 marks the beginning of a new solar cycle with increasing number of sunspots and magnetic storms that will fill the VLF frequency bands with the highest frequency of energetic disturbances since VLF radio has started to be monitored by enthusiasts.

LOWDOWN expresses the substance of the sculpture park as energy and flux through sound. VLF sounds are recorded in the winery over the course of many weeks, edited and placed on a playback disk.  The disk is broadcast on the FM band from a low-power transmitter located in the winery.  One will be able to tune to an FM broadcast of VLF sounds in a car as one enters the park or on portable radios worn in the sculpture areas. “Lowdown” refers to the frequency range of the radio signals, to the fact that these sounds are broadcast through the earth and that these sounds are a kind of truth unavailable to our ears until recently. 


Lowdown  1999

Paradise Ridge Sculpture Park, Santa Rosa, California

Public Art