Palm House Transect
is a large-scale, site-specific sound installation developed for the Greenhouse at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York. Built in 1881, it is one of the earliest iron-frame greenhouses in North America and, at 376 feet long, one of the largest of its time. It ceased operation in the 1940s and today is maintained in a skeleton form without glass panes to enclose the interior spaces.
The piece consists of a generative sound composition built from field recordings and electronic tones, which are played through a set of thirty loudspeakers spread irregularly throughout the Greenhouse structure. The work is based around the concept of a line transect, or the path along which an observer counts and records occurrences of the phenomena of study (e.g. plants). This very specific, attentive mode of moving through space provides a model for visitor engagement with the piece and the site. The title comes from the name of the central area of the Greenhouse, a section were palm trees were cultivated. The sound composition is based on linear mapping of both the Greenhouse structure and elements of the surrounding estate. The shapes of these lines and the spacing of elements found along them are used as the underlying framework for the piece.
The movement of sound in the space is articulated visually by a set of brightly colored line cables that run from point to point among the speakers and between key structural elements of the greenhouse. These outline the paths and trajectories of the sonic material and illustrate the idea of a transect as it functions within the site.
Several live performances are scheduled to take place within the piece, and these will activate the site in specific ways throughout the five-month exhibition. The performances feature a rotating cast of sound artists and musicians, and they will interpret the composition and score in distinctive and idiosyncratic ways.
Ed Osborn works with many forms of electronic media including installation, video, sound, and performance. His pieces feature a tactile sense of space, movement, image, and aurality combined with a precise economy of materials. Osborn has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Creative Work Fund and Arts International, and been awarded residencies from the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Het Apollohuis (Eindhoven, Netherlands), STEIM (Amsterdam), and EMPAC (Troy, NY).
He has presented his work at SFMOMA (San Francisco, CA), the singuhr- hörgalerie (Berlin, Germany), the Berkeley Art Museum (Berkeley, CA), Artspace (Sydney, Australia), the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane, Australia), ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany), Kiasma (Helsinki, Finland), Mass- MOCA (North Adams, MA), the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT), and the Sonic Arts Research Centre (Belfast, Northern Ireland).
He has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the California College of Arts (Oakland, CA), and the University of California at Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA). He is on the faculty of the Visual Arts Department at Brown University (Providence, RI), specializing in teaching sound and electronic media.