2013 - Navajo TIME: Chaco Canyon

Interactive Sonic Demonstration

Raven Chacon and Robert Henke
Chaco Canyon

New Mexico Arts, a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Navajo Nation Museum, and the International Land-Sensitive Art Foundation (iLSAF) presented the first sound installation at the ancient at Chaco Canyon in modern times—an interactive sonic demonstration with artists Raven Chacon representing Navajo Nation, and Robert Henke from Germany.

Using the natural and Anasazi-made land features of Chaco Canyon, Navajo composer Raven Chacon and German sound artist Robert Henke presented an evening of sounds, demonstrating the phenomena of the ancient Chaco Canyon.

In following the work of archaeo-acoustician Richard Loose, Henke and Chacon presented an outdoor soundtrack in the environment of the Anasazi. The soundtrack included original solo compositions by Henke and Chacon, as well as a collaborative piece performed live that used the canyon environment as a land-instrument in a manner similar to that which might have been employed by Anasazi musicians and orators.

Robert Henke's Canyon Dust, composed out of millions of very small grains of sound, each slightly different, forming a slowly changing sonic landscape, like the sun and the dust in the air painting the sky in ever-changing subtle colors. The piece played and interacted with the canyon, using its shape and dimensions to enhance and subtly alter the sounds depending on the position of the listener, shifting the experience of that vast space, unheard before and yet in concert with it, rather than overpowering its inherent beauty. The sound became part of the canyon, as it has been there forever and as if it would never stop. The creation of the sound happened at the very moment the listener experienced it, and allowed the artist to adapt the pace and movement to that specific and unique event in time, that was focused on the present with no references to the past and the future.

Navajo TIME 2013: Chaco Canyon served as a sneak preview of the newest biennial in the world—TIME: Navajo Nation, officially opening in June 2014. This unique biennial will feature temporary installations created on the mythic land of the American Southwest, exploring a new relational and socially engaged pubic art through collaborations with established artists and members of the Navajo Nation.

Raven Chacon photoAbout Raven Chacon:
Raven Chacon (born Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation, Arizona, USA) is a composer of chamber music, a performer of experimental noise music, and an installation artist. He performs regularly as a solo artist as well as with numerous ensembles in the Southwest. He is also a member of the American Indian art collective Postcommodity. Chacon's work explores sounds of acoustic handmade instruments overdriven through electric systems and the direct and indirect audio feedback responses from their interactions. He was a student of many notable teachers, including James Tenney, Wadada Leo Smith, Morton Subotnick, and Michael Pisaro. Recent and ongoing collaborations are projects with Bob Bellerue (Kilt), William Fowler Collins (Mesa Ritual), John Dieterich (Summer Assassins), Robert Henke, Thollem McDonas, and the ETHEL quartet (Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project).

Chacon has presented his work in different contexts at Vancouver Art Gallery, ABC No Rio, REDCAT, Biennale of Sydney, Canyon DeChelly, Adelaide Festival, Ende Tymes Festival, and The Kennedy Center. He lives and works in Albuquerque, NM.

Robert Henke photoAbout Robert Henke:
Robert Henke, born in Munich, Germany, builds and operates machines to produce art. Henke explores new territories between musical composition, performance and installation. He admires the beauty in engineering, and develops his own instruments and algorithms as an integral part of the artistic process. Henke's focus is the connections between spaces, structures, timbres and shapes. His materials are computer generated sound, field recordings, video, photography and light; transformed, re-arranged and modulated by controlled randomness, mathematical rules or real time interaction. The resulting works include music played in clubs, surround sound concerts, compositions in the tradition of academic computer music, video and laser installations, site-specific sound art, and publicly available software.

Henke is one of the main creators of the music software 'Ableton Live', which since its invention in 1999 became the standard tool for electronic music production and completely redefined the performance practice of electronic music. He writes and lectures about sound and the creative use of computers, and has held teaching positions at the Berlin University of the Arts and the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University.

Henke's installations, performances and concerts have been presented at Tate Modern London, the Centre Pompidou Paris, Le Lieu Unique Nantes, PS-1 New York, MUDAM Luxembourg, MAK Vienna, and at countless festivals.