Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tonal Centers

A new piece of public art has gone up temporarily in the Civic Center Plaza, part of five works commissioned by San Francisco State University to commemorate the opening of the new deYoung Museum. Click here to check them all out. This piece, consisting of a bell tuned to an exact frequency, is by a Berkeley installation sculptor named Wang Po Shu who does very interesting stuff. Click here to get to his website.

There was signage next to the bell, with some bizarre English (the artist is originally from Hong Kong), and here are a few excerpts:
"In quakeland Californa, all public building to be built or retrofitted, will have their dynamic behavior studied by structural engineers to avoid destructive resonant harmonics with natural forces such as earthquake, strong wind, etc. Harmonic resonance is a reality that we are all born into, live and die with..."

"San Francisco City Hall is a floating structure since 1998, when its seismic retrofit of Base isolation method was completed. Set free from the earth, the building is allowed to move up to 27 inches in all directions when the earth quakes ... The City Hall Building's fundamental resonant frequency is centered around 2.7 hertz (Coutesy of Forell/Elsesser Engineers Inc.). This is musically the building's tonal center in other words. City Hall rings in this pitch when earthquake strikes. Or when enough of us sing together in this pitch, we can induce harmonic resonance from the building."

"The bell used for this artwork is tuned to City Hall's tonal center pitch, at 172.8 hertz on its sixth octave. It is tuned from a recycled bronze cupola bell cast by Fulton Iron Work Foundry of Michigan, from an unknown date, with an unknown history, except that it carries the marks of much abuses along its way.

Please feel free to sample the Tonal Center of the City Hall by pulling on the handle. And happy ring-a-sing-a-long!"

Meanwhile, a very jolly looking group of Mexican laborers was sitting on the red carpet that they were assembling in front of City Hall for a wedding party that evening.

Across the Civic Center Plaza, Bill Graham auditorium was hosting a "Public School Enrollment Fair."

It seemed an odd time of year to be holding such a thing, but I suppose there was a good reason.

To learn more about the annual affair, click here for the San Francisco Unified School District webpage explaning the event.

Teachers and admininistrators had volunteered to come help sell the virtues of their particular schools.

They were a pleasant looking bunch.

In front of the auditorium, a woman at an ironing board was giving out great signage to remind everybody to resist the Schwarzenegger Right-Wing Agenda Above All!

I spent the afternoon in the backyard of the Lone Star Saloon, contemplating the colorful agenda represented by Miss Avis, the Tarot Reader.

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