Calls From the Dark 2018

Calls from the Dark 2018

The sound series Calls from the Dark is a translation of the intoxicated longings of animals and machines; it’s material is the sounded skyscape.

Exhibited in three locations in the exhibition Illuminated Forest, Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, VT, September 22, 2018.


Orb Song 1

Orb Song 2

Orb Song 3

Scoring the Streets of New Orleans

Scoring the Streets of New Orleans 2010

NEW ORLEANS CITY SOUNDSCAPE, 2010. This image was created from midi data used to create SOUNDING THE STREETS OF NEW ORLEANS

Fragments of song float from street corners and weave throughout
the open-air bars and restaurants that line Bourbon Street. For the
passerby, pieces of numerous songs are threaded into one melody.
Time signature is determined by the walker’s gate, notes by the chance
encounters with the sound events of the place, points on a map. 

On December 31st, 2004 I walked through the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street recording the experience described above. Music, the sounds of busy streets and celebrations all became part of the recording. Using midi conversion, I translated the original eldrecording into digital data. The data now works as a master score, open to diverse interpretations.

In 2010 I’ve worked with this score to create the sound piece SCORING THE STREETS OF NEW ORLEANS and the image NEW ORLEANS CITY SOUNDSCAPE.

DuMois Gallery, New Orleans
November 11 – December 3, 2010
Opening Reception: Friday, November 19
Image: New Orleans City Soundscape, 2010.


1500 Waters

1500 Waters

1500 Waters

1500 Waters appeared in the group show Expanding, Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford University, Fall 2008

1500 Waters is a study of abundance and scarcity. Through sound composition and installation it is a reflection that starts in the summer of 2008 when approximate 1500 wildfires burned in California while flooding occurred in other parts of the U.S. 1500 waters used HSS highly directional speakers, microcontrollers, and sensors. Highly directional sounds beams echoed in the front entrance way of the gallery, while sensors on the ground tracked the motion of visitors, triggering additional rays of sound.


Early SF Foghorn Studies

Early San Francisco Foghorn Studies

Early foghorn studies led to the discovery of the fantastic map of fog signals and their patterns, pictured below and right.

The way to read these codes is as follows. In the example right, the diaphone #1 Golden Gate Bridge, Midspan has the following code: 2 bl ev 40s; 1s bl-2s si-1s 36s si. This translates to 2 blasts every 40 seconds; 1-second blast, 2 seconds silence, 1-second blast, 36 seconds silence. To break this out a little more, the 1st phrase says that there are 2 blasts that occur every 40 seconds. The 2nd phrase breaks it down, revealing that the foghorn “loop” goes like this (1-second blast)(2 seconds silence)(1-second blast)(36 seconds silence).

I’ve used these patterns as rhythmic phrases within sound installations, with phrases triggered by sensors and to create spontaneous compositions.


Foghorn Pattern Mix (2007)

The sound file included here is an early sketch that worked with these patterns and incorporated both appealing and unappealing sounds including gunfire, ocean waves and Wilhelm scream

Foghorn Field Recordings, Out Richmond San Francisco

None of my classmates really understood why I wanted to live in the cold and foggy Outer Richmond while I was living in SF. Why not live somewhere more hip like North Beach or the Mission? Well, I loved being near Ocean Beach and it seemed like one of the best places to listen to the Foghorns.

August 8, 2007
August 29, 2007
September 27, 2007

Salon Pod

Salon Pod

Salon Pod traveled to indoor and outdoor locations in Vermont. Participants first browsed a printed menu and from that menu chose the soundscape they wanted to hear. Once seated in its chair, Salon Pod played for them, and them alone, a soundscape of their choice. Most participants didn’t seem to mind that once seated in  Salon Pod, they became the center of attention.

Jenn Karson + Ken Mills

Salon Pod traveled to cafés and small venues in Central and Northern Vermont in 2006. It was part of the South End Art Hop in 2005 and 2006.

“I forgot to tell y’all that I checked out the Salon Pod over the weekend at The Langdon Street Cafe in Montpelier. Maybe you’ve seen the short items I’ve written about the Pod in Weekend in recent months. Maybe you haven’t. Anyway, the gist is that Burlington musician Jenn Karson (formerly of local riot-grrrl band Zola Turn) converted an old-school hair-salon chair into a listening station for her ambient music. She pumps her music through small speakers installed in the spaceman-styled hair dryer – one of the most brilliant musical-equipment ideas I’ve ever seen – and gives dark goggles to the listener to block out as much sensory interference as possible. I selected a musical number called “Le Coiffeur,” which was appropriate considering the setting (and I needed a haircut, anyway, and a virtual one seemed so much easier and cheaper). It was a pretty freaky experience, lemme tell ya, but very cool. The blend of impressionistic synth-driven music and snippets of cutting scissors and French-speaking barbers was a first for me, frankly. I’ll be writing about it more at length for an upcoming article in the Free Press, so keep your eyes and ears open.
– Brent Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press




Listen to Le Coiffeur:  

Navigating the Bay

Navigating the Bay

San Francisco Art institute Courtyard
December 2008

Score/drawing used in the projection of the installation Navigating the Bay

Navigating the Bay is a sound and projection installation that explores the complex systems of humans, animals and machines that rely and reside on the San Francisco Bay. A response to the  2007 Cosco Busan Oil Spill that was partly the fault of malfunctioning radar, the installation uses sound, projection, sensors, micro controllers and Max/MSP. The piece explores the progression of navigational technologies,  channeling current sounds of the bay through historic San Francisco fog horn patterns.


The piece is made up of four sound rhizomes that play when activated. The Score above describes the sound patterns in more detail.

Navigating the Bay Rhizome Mix 

Humans Rhizome


Animals Rhizome


Machines Rhizome


The Elements Rhizome


Money Rhizome