The name Harry Bertoia is most often associated with his highly collectible modern furniture (most famously, the metal wire Bertoia Chair), but it’s his sound sculpture design that I find most intriguing. Bertoia’s sculptural work with metal led to a fascination with the unique sounds that metals produced causing Bertoia to investigate sound designs. These sculptures, referred to as Sonambient for the series of privately released LPs he issued bearing that name, were designed to be played by both human hands and nature itself. For example, wind might move a set of metal rods, to strike each other at varying intensity, producing a sound and intensity of increasing density and volume, as determined by nature, the musician. In theory it’s similar to wind chimes that might be on your porch, in reality the sounds produced are haunting, ethereal, otherworldly transmissions, deeply reverberating and resonant.
To call this a “documentary” is misleading as it is predominantly a collection of experimental films featuring Bertoia’s work.
The Kickstarter to help preserve the 350+ reels of UNHEARD tape from the Bertoia Archives, finishes today and surpassed it’s goal! And the people responsible are putting out a box set of all eleven original Sonambient Records! Happy birthday, Harry!