Palm House Transect


Session Title:

  • Sensory Body (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Palm House Transect




  • This presentation discusses “Palm House Transect,” a large‑scale, site‑specific sound installation that opened in June, 2014.  It is developed for the greenhouse at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York and is one of the earliest and largest iron‑frame greenhouses in North America. The piece itself consists of a generative sound composition played through a set of three‑dozen loudspeakers spread irregularly throughout the greenhouse structure. The work is based around the idea of a line transect, which is the path along which an observer counts and records occurrences of the phenomena of study (e.g. plants). This very specific, attentive mode of moving through space provides a model for visitor engagement with the piece and the site. The movement of sound in the space is articulated visually by a set of brightly colored cables that run from point to point among the speakers and key structural elements of the greenhouse. These serve as a visual focus of the piece and outline the paths and trajectories of the sonic material. The cables also illustrate the idea of a transect as it functions within the space of the greenhouse and provide multiple ways of viewing and navigating the site. The sound composition is based on linear mapping of both the greenhouse structure and elements of the surrounding estate. The shapes of these lines and the spacing of elements found along them are used as the underlying framework for the piece, and is reflected in the timings, movements, and forms of the sounds heard in the piece.