Brick Instruments

  • Brad Nathanson, B.Arch. 2018
  • Class Independent Study
  • Instructor Mona Mahall

Nathanson is interested in collapsing the roles of the architect as a composer of space and the musician as a composer of time. He believes that we are already unable to separate our experience of space and time and that through the simultaneous exploration of these dimensions there is much to uncover, both as composers and users of the built environment.

Brick Instruments explores the natural sonic characteristics of various materials and brings a heightened awareness to the sounds of the built environment. Contact microphones were cast within bricks made of plaster, silicone, dirt, and rockite; geometry and mic placement remained constant throughout this series of four so as to allow for the difference in sounds to be only a result of the natural material properties. Specific ways of performing the individual bricks are, in a way, coded into the materials themselves — while plaster's resonance calls for sustained gestures and results in bell-like tones, rockite's high density requires powerful knocks in order to be heard at all. In the performance, a loop pedal was utilized to build dense rhythms — walls of sound. The utilized 4/4 time signature references the symmetrical orthogonal rhythms and grids which are prevalent in construction processes throughout the built environment. Future performances will employ the brick instruments in a variety of ways such as stacking bricks to allow vibrations to filter through multiple materials, utilizing the contact microphones to employ feedback within a network of bricks and constructing large-scale inhabitable sound installations.

The exhibition/performance was the culmination of work done through an independent study under the instruction of visiting professor Mona Mahall.