Project developed as part of the Pen & Bow workshop at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture led by Andrew Ruff. Visual score interpreted by ETHEL.
“It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear.”
—Italo Calvino, The Invisible Cities
Architecture and music are kindred spirits: structures and rhythms bound in the pursuit of visceral experience and poetic harmonies. The ephemeral nature of music lacks the permanence of architecture, yet physical space has always been jealous of music’s agility. Together, space and sound bind into an encompassing sensory narrative, occupying the tactility of our fingers and ears.
Through a collaboration with the acclaimed string quartet ETHEL, we analyzed and diagramed the central atrium of Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture. This analysis did not solely investigate physical aspects of the building, but sought the rhythms, patterns, and narratives that define the essential experiences of the space. After compiling initial mappings of these temporal narratives, a series of visual strategies and techniques were developed to transcribe these specific spatial observations into legible musical notation. The resulting visual score, entitled 24COA, spans 110’ and acts as a record of a single 24 hour period within the building atrium. ETHEL, in turn, interpreted the visual score as they performed 24COA, bringing to life this inherently autobiographical and reflective narrative on the building’s subtle rhythms and atmospheres.
For more information about ETHEL, please visit www.ethelcentral.org
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Andrew Ruff is an adjunct faculty member at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture. Under his direction, the Pen & Bow workshop operates outside the traditional design studio, where design is considered from the scale of the object to the city and from a single moment to a millennia.