Story: 9/28

Open music player

Michael Gordon

Timber

Cantaloupe Music, 2012

6 x 2x4

Timber is a percussion work played on six pieces of wood called ‘simantras’ – pretty much ordinary two-by-fours – each a different length and pitch. The percussionists play complex rhythms that travel around in space and combine in layers with each other, with hypnotic results. Wood was the obvious motif to use for the visuals and Michael Gordon, understandably, wanted to package this work in a limited edition wooden box.

I drew the simantras in wire-frame on the computer and played around with arranging the primitive shapes in space. When I layered them on top of each other in a star formation, the perspective of each piece fluctuated at the opposing ends. The individual objects seemed transformed by being part of a group – a nice echo of what was happening in the music itself.

I could also heat-stamp the shape onto a wooden box and take the graphic into the booklet in a new form by cutting it into pieces of wood with a laser-cutter and hand-printing wood-prints.

I sourced an acceptable-looking wooden box on the internet, but had no way of knowing what it would be like in real life. The manager of Cantaloupe Music at the time, Jillian Barr, was fearless about ordering the boxes from the supplier in China, having them heat-stamped in Taiwan and shipping them to New York and the Netherlands for the launch concert.

The timing was very tight and there was much nail-biting while we waited for the deliveries. The risk paid off and the landing was a success. The box was apparently popular amongst music reviewers in America, who requested extra copies in December – presumably for Christmas presents.

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