Kata Kovács tracking satellite signals on the roof at LACMA, August 2017, © Kovács/O’Doherty

Kata Kovács tracking satellite signals on the roof at LACMA, August 2017, © Kovács/O’Doherty

Signal Tide — Two Passes: A Special Audio Mix by Kovács/O’Doherty

A few years ago LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab hosted a series of special music performances featuring a call and response with a live satellite. Titled Signal Tide, the work was developed to be a poetic reply to the erratic signals of LES-1, a defunct spacecraft that ceased to function in 1967 but unexpectedly started transmitting again in 2013. Signal Tide was essentially a sound and extraterrestrial radio installation, which combined the satellite’s wavering signal overhead with a special generative musical score rising up from a bed of speakers resting on the ground. Visitors could walk around the grounds underneath LACMA’s Pavilion for Japanese Art and let the sound envelop them.

Signal Tide — Two Passes Audio Mix

Signal Tide — Two Passes Audio Artist Interview

Signal Tide was created by Lab grant recipients Kata Kovács and Tom O'Doherty. Working together as Kovács/O’Doherty, the artists spent many hours on LACMA’s rooftops looking for LES-1’s signal. They also traveled to New England to research sacred harp singing, a type of choral music that has its origins in folk music traditions of the region of New England, where MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory is located and where LES-1 was built. The culmination of their research was the generative score inspired by this music. Paired with the satellite’s signal, it serenaded visitors for just under a half-hour, which was the amount of time it took LES-1 to make a full pass across the sky above the museum.

Today we are pleased to present Signal Tide — Two Passes, a special audio mix of the score developed for the installation and an archival recording of LES-1’s signal. The mix is structured to emulate the experience of listening to two separate passes of the spacecraft as it would have flown over LACMA. We are also publishing an audio interview with the artists about the genesis and production of the work.

The Art + Technology Lab is presented by

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The Art + Technology Lab is made possible by Accenture, YouTube Learning, and Snap Inc.

Additional support is provided by SpaceX.

The Lab is part of The Hyundai Project: Art + Technology at LACMA, a joint initiative exploring the convergence of art and technology.

Seed funding for the development of the Art + Technology Lab was provided by the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity Commission through the Productivity Investment Fund and LACMA Trustee David Bohnett.