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Sonos Gallery in Los Angeles makes art out of bottle noises with 'Bottle Tones'

by Peter Stenshoel with Kevin Ferguson | Off-Ramp®

Air is pumped from the hand pump through the tube to make sound, as if you were blowing on the top of the bottle yourself. Then the sound is caught by a microphone and and played through Sonos players. Ashley Myers-Turner/KPCC

Remember the first time you blew into a bottle as a kid? KPCC’s Peter Stenshoel does, and that’s what got him to check out Bottle Tones, the new installation at Sonos Studio--owned and operated by the electronics company of the same name.

Sonos Studio is a gallery--acoustically-designed--celebrating the art of listening. It hosts exhibitions, intimate concerts, and parties geared to tickle eardrums. The slanting walls and foam pyramids look cool, and make the room sound great. And from now until the end of August, the Bottle Tones installation by composers Luke Rothschild and Bennett Barbakow provides a playful introduction to the space.

"It’s something universal and simple as blowing into a bottle like I did when I was six years old" said Rothschild. "It seemed kind of magical."

It may be kid stuff, but Rothschild and Barbakow give bottle music a symphonic twist. Visitors use pumps to blow air into a collection of empty bottles to make different tones. Microphones capture sound the sound vibrations and electronic devices process them--sometimes it sounds like a bottle, sometimes like the soundtrack to a science fiction film.

Rothschild said he and Barbakow originally planned to use bike pumps to blow air over the bottles. But it wouldn't work. "Once we realized it was possible to take these marine pumps that are designed to inflate inflatable boats like a Zodiac, or whatever, and they move quite a bit of air."

Visitors use these foot pumps to activate the installation.

In a city with countless art galleries, we now have a sound gallery, Sonos Studio is at 145 N. La Brea and open to the public--Wednesday to Sunday--from noon to six.

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