Stewardship to Obsolescence: Listening to Specimen Music through Yerkes Observatory's Refractor and Reflector Telescopes

    Founded in 1892 and known as the birthplace of astrophysics, the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin ceased operations in 2018. That year, its obsolete technologies were captured by Coppice to draw parallels between its acoustic signatures and functions and those of Coppice’s glossary of study since 2009.

    Musing on the lack of delimiting frames and vanishing point in the auditory, Coppice manufactures a frame out of its preservation of Yerkes Observatory’s mechanical rooms. Within that frame of observatory sound, Coppice anecdotes its perspectives on listening and assimilation, and points to coordinates where conjunctions of its music may be found. Spanning music production and phonography, this documentary experiment approaches obsolescence and preservation as creative resources that range in scale from musical instruments and devices to mechanical architecture.

    Highlighting the intermediary influence of recording and reproduction technologies on perception and perspective – both in limiting and enhancing ways – open-ended questions of actuality and fiction are posed for the listener, to stir the imagination of music, places, and time in flux.

    • Format: Script and audio paper
    • Artwork: Coppice
    • Duration: Two versions: 20 and 60 minutes
    • Including: Mark Booth and Jenny Vallier (narrators)
    • Date: February 2021