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Musical composition housed within a stone sculpture on view at Fairlop Waters
Mira Calix, Nothing Is Set In Stone. Photo: Courtesy of Overcraft.

LONDON.- Mira Calix’s Nothing is Set in Stone is a new immersive art installation, a musical composition housed within a stone sculpture at Fairlop Waters in Redbridge. Calix, an award-winning composer and artist, has created the musical sculpture from a striped rock known as Angel Stone (or Gneiss). Working with mineralogists from the Natural History Museum, she has pushed sound through the rock which creates a surprisingly physical experience of music.

Nothing is Set in Stone will be embedded in its environment, accentuating and dramatising its beautiful location. For passers-by this surprising intervention into the landscape lends a cinematic quality reminiscent of classic music scores, which often rumour, hint and circle around a main theme that is not realised until the closing bars. As the listener hears Nothing is Set in Stone, the melody and composition never meet, they are held within the rock.

This work can be understood in a rich history of experimental artists, such as Steve Reich, Bruce Nauman and Florian Hecker, who have explored the relationship between sound and form, though this work is also related to a recent interest in process-based sound sculpture, in which sculptural form and sound are intrinsically linked.

Though Calix's composition is conceived as an entire piece of music, fragmentary passages will play from within the sculpture when activated by sensors, so that anyone approaching it will not be able to hear the piece in its entirety. Calix’s aim is that the full composition can only be constructed as the different melodic elements are collected together when someone moves around the piece. Cutting-edge technology is being used to create both the form and functionality of the musical sculpture. Its interactivity is subtle, creating a unique performance, both mysterious and playful, for every visitor.

Calix has taken inspiration from sounds relating to stones, the pastoral and ancient environments in which they are found, as well as the rock itself and its new location. Conceived and created simultaneously, the stone sculpture in its unusually upright position and the piece of music are expressions of one another and are embedded in the landscape. The words of Heraclitus have been important to Calix in the conception of the piece, ‘Everything changes and nothing remains still... you cannot step twice into the same stream’. This work makes tangible the sense of temporal evolution and the passage of time, whilst also making clear that one can never pin down music or art.

Nothing is Set in Stone is commissioned by Oxford Contemporary Music and is part of a programme of free events commissioned by the Mayor of London called Secrets: Hidden London, which aims to make Londoners as well as visitors look at and experience the city in a new way.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who has initiated the Secrets series as part of a programme of cultural events for summer 2012, comments: ‘In one of the most thrilling years in our city's history we are going to create a summer like no other, hosting an unprecedented variety of free cultural attractions all across the capital – in high streets, town squares, parks and hidden gems like Fairlop Waters. With this musical sculpture Mira Calix has managed to wrest not blood, but music from a stone, putting the music into rock and creating an exciting new cultural attraction, which I hope will draw visitors as well as locals to the area.’

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